Frank Bannon probationer teacher, technology, St John Paul Academy, Glasgow

23rd June 2006 at 01:00
I tried going in really stern the first week, you know: "Don't crack a smile until October", but I couldn't do it. It wasn't me.

I decided it wasn't just about what I wanted and that I would negotiate with the pupils. It would be our classroom, not my classroom.

That paid off, particularly well with a group of third year who were unsettled and demotivated.

I got them to sit down and negotiate what was acceptable behaviour in the classroom, and to take responsibility for their learning. I used techniques I learned before I became a teacher, while working at a Jordanhill summer school for disaffected kids.

I remember a science teacher on that course asking me what I was training to teach. I wasn't, but that planted the seed. It was the first time I had thought about becoming a teacher. I had been a mechanical engineer then a nursery nurse, before going to university as a mature student.

It's quite tough at the start to establish yourself in the classroom. But I feel I've done well over the year, and I have now been offered the permanent job.

The most enjoyable part of the year has been building relationships with the pupils. You can see the kids mature, see the work they're producing and how eager they are to learn and to take responsibility for their own learning.

It's about small things too. At first they wouldn't even look at me in the corridor, but now they stop and ask how I am getting on.

The best advice to somebody starting out as a probationer is: be yourself.

Take advice but don't pay too much attention to old-fashioned ideas I and be honest with the kids.

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