First encounters

10th November 2000 at 00:00
Mike Simpson is in a positive frame of mind

It's only weeks into the first term of my first post and I am off school already, nursing a broken arm after a sports accident. I can't do anything much except slump in front of the telly. I could be glum, but I am not. I could be nervous about the prospect of having to start again, more or less, when I go back to school, but I'm not. Far from being cast down, I am feeling good and looking forward to making the most of my enforced lay-off. This is not because I am by nature perky and optimistic, but because I am learning the value of that vital resource - the power of positive thinking.

Positive thinking means looking at a situation and making the most of the opportunities it presents - trying to persuade yourself that an awful situation is actually rather good. You see it happening all the time. Teachers spend a lot of effort trying to make work things that have been hastily forced upon them: Sats for young children, performance-related pay, league tables. I was at school during the early and mid-Eighties, when the first great educational upheaval of the late 0th century was taking place. In those days, teachers went on strike. It never really worked. Now we have a new wind, a fresh zeitgeist, a third way; that way is positive thinking.

At first I was angst-ridden. On my appointment I found that a change of classroom for my subject, resisted by my predecessor, was to take place before the new term. But then I thought: "At least the new room is on the main corridor, near the staffroom, which means a higher profile for my subject. Never mind the lack of carpets and cupboards, and the windows that may as well not be there when it rains."

Now I am learning slowly. NQT target... a chance to prove myself. Pupils hate my subject (RE)... I can make it come alive for them. That kid who lays siege to my self-esteem in period six every Friday... now is the chance to make a real difference in the poor bairn's life. You get the idea.

So bring it on. Do your worst, Blunkett, DfEE, kids, managers, parents. I'm ready. I'm invincible. You watch - I'll have square pegs in round holes yet.

Mike Simpson is an NQT at Ferry Hill comprehensive in County Durham

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