First encounters

12th January 2001 at 00:00
Kristina Humphries takes a seat at last.

I sat down in the staffroom today. Perhaps "sat" is not the right word. It was more of a perch if I'm honest, but the point is that it was actually on a chair.

Like a lot of things you do for the first time, it was over quite quickly and a bit disappointing. But the important thing was that it had happened at last. I'd nearly done it before on several occasions, but had always drawn back at the last moment - even though I had frequently done it on the edge of a table. It's not that the staff aren't friendly. They are. It's me.

I consider myself a friendly sort of person, at least with other members of staff if not with all of the pupils all of the time. But that's the problem: other members of staff. I still don't feel that I qualify to be included in that category. Everyone else seems to know what they're doing. They also seem to do Other Things sometimes, from what I've heard - like have a life. I am in awe of them all. Okay, they might seem a bit stressed from time to time, but sometimes they laugh, and it's not hysterical. Well, not alwas.

The worst bit is on my way into the staffroom. Every day, I anticipate a shout of "Hey, where do you think you're going?" or, worse still, pupils stop me and ask if so-and-so is in there, and I don't know. Why do they have to ask me? I'm sure they know I don't know. Perhaps they lurk outside, deciding who they're going to ask me for today. "Let's ask her for someone with a really difficult name. She'll never get that right."

And, not that I'm paranoid or anything, but my pigeonhole is a wasteland compared to some. It sits there, gapingly empty. I suppose I should be grateful, as at least it has that brown envelope in there once a month.

Still, I feel that a big hurdle has been cleared. I'm already planning to do it again, and I hope it will last longer next time. Perhaps then it will genuinely qualify as a "sit". And who knows, eventually I might get into advanced techniques such as sitting and holding a conversation while drinking a cup of coffee. But it's been a day to remember.

Dr Kristina Humphries is a chemistry NQT at Kind Edward VI high school in Stafford

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