It's a special one for me

1st February 2008 at 00:00
I've done it. I have my first teaching job. "So what?" I hear you ask. Well, if ever there was a time when I thought something wouldn't happen, it was this.

I qualified in Christmas 2006 and after many applications, began to despair of landing my dream job - in fact, any teaching job.

When I was offered a place at a local special school I was delighted. For me it is a dream come true, somewhere I can use my skills, creativity, empathy and compassion.

Working in a special school where the pupils are aged from two to 19 and have many physical and learning difficulties to cope with, as well as negotiating school and the national curriculum, is challenging and rewarding.

"Argh ...," I hear many people say, "I couldn't do that. How do you teach those sorts of kids?" Well let me tell you, it's the most rewarding job in the world.

The pupils in my class are admittedly a diverse group, ranging in age from eight to 15, some with severe physical problems and others with learning difficulties, all requiring lots of activities to achieve each task. Yet this makes planning for lessons exciting and challenging, so when it all comes together it's great.

This term, we've been looking at the changing Earth, beginning with volcanoes. During one geography lesson, we made volcanoes from papier-mache, developing the pupils' ideas and adding trees and bushes to each group's display. The following lesson we talked about volcanic eruptions. For our pupils, visual input is imperative, so we progressed to erupting our volcanoes. It was a fantastic success, with the pupils focusing on the red paint and vinegar mixture that was flowing down the side of their volcanoes, activated by bicarbonate of soda.

Who can dispute the pure joy and excitement that teaching can bring? I wouldn't swap it for anything.

So let me say to those of you out there who are still looking and struggling to be positive - never give up. Because when you achieve your ambition, it is worth all the effort, the hope and the tears. Even when you've had a bad day, there is always one child who will make you smile and it all becomes worthwhile.

Janet Turner is a new teacher at Queen's Park Special School in Lincoln.

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