Fresh-faced newcomers leave students confused

1st October 2004 at 01:00
Newcomers to teaching are experiencing something of an identity crisis in their first jobs as confusion reigns on account of their youthful looks and high energy.

In the first few weeks of term, some contributors to the TES online staffroom forum have been reporting that pupils are mistaking NQTs for their classmates and being left flabbergasted by the news that these particular youngsters are actually members of the teaching staff.

One contributor said: "A sixth-former approached me to ask what A-levels I was doing and whether I'd like to have lunch with her. I'm 24."

Others found some pupils' questions harder to answer. For example, one contributor wrote: "One of my primary pupils told me she wanted to be a lawyer when she grew up.

"Then she asked me, 'What do you want to do when you grow up?'"

But, identity crises apart, at least the underlying premise is complimentary.

Other NQTs have found that a few weeks in the classroom is enough to undermine their youth and vigour.

"We're doing Florence Nightingale at the moment," one teacher wrote.

"We talked about the historical clothes she was wearing. One boy then asked me whether I was from Florence Nightingale's time. I'm 22."

Indeed, a position at the chalkface is fraught with all kinds of unexpected observations, it seems.

One teacher was informed by a pupil: "Miss, I can tell you're a hippy by your eyes." And yet another novice was asked: "What did you do in the war?"

The true professionals have even turned the unexpected lines of enquiry into new learning opportunities.

"One of my Year 6 pupils asked me what side I was on during the War of the Roses," wrote one teacher. "I just said, 'The winning side, of course.'

I've never seen so much motivated research."

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