Distraction techniques, subtleties of children's language and the unshakeable laws of nature. These are just a few of the lessons new teachers have learned during their first year in school.
For many, classroom experience is proving to be as valuable as any career-development session. What they have learned is revealed in TES online staffroom discussions where new teachers have been sharing the ups and downs of their first 12 months.
"It is impossible to teach when any sort of insect is found in the classroom," said one contributor. "All pupils will cry, 'don't kill it!'
Nature-loving souls? Nah, they just want to drag the distraction on."
Another teacher reduced her conclusions into a neat mathematical formula:
"Playtime equals dispute-settlement for the first 10 minutes of the lesson."
For others, though, the classroom has proven a demonstration ground for unshakeable laws of nature. One teacher offered the irrefutable statement:
"At least one child will always go home with paint on them, whether the paints were out that day or not."
Another countered this with a handy set of classroom aphorisms: "The only certainties in life are death, taxes and nits. The less they write, the more they need to sharpen their pencils."
The classroom is also a training ground for the obstacle course of life.
Practical problems come with practical solutions, as one contributor demonstrated. She said: "Boys in reception should immediately be taught how to tie their own shoelaces, since targeted urination is a skill many do not acquire until adulthood. If then."
Even the subtleties of child language eventually become clear. One teacher said: "If a child comes to you holding their stomach, and says 'Miss, I feel ... ', put a sick bucket under their nose quick."
But the most important lesson for the new teacher is summed up by a newly cynical contributor: you are not mad, they are. She said: "Students can look you in the eye with an innocent expression, like a seal about to be clubbed, and swear that black is white. Initially it made me doubt my sanity, but now I'm becoming immune."