It's Your First Year Teaching But You Don't Dare to Act Like it

20th February 2004 at 00:00
It's Your First Year Teaching But You Don't Dare to Act Like it. By Bob Kitchen. Scarecrow Education pound;14.95

Bob Kitchen's surname is appropriate. At times the voice of this US educationist resembles that of Delia Smith presenting How to Cook on television. For, like Delia, the author leaves nothing to chance. Having landed your first teaching post (advice: "you must be aggressive and sell yourself"), there is no room for doubt about how to proceed.

He tells us to buy three notebooks, one for questions and concerns, one for points of emphasis (write down everything anyone says that begins "This is really important") and one for a "to do" list. He knows how many pens to buy, and which colour Post-it notes. He tells the teacher fresh from training college to seek out the school treasurer and helpfully provides the script: "Simply say, 'my name is (your name) and I just wanted to stop by and say hello'. Then before you leave, be sure to end with: 'It was really nice meeting you'."

Like Delia, he issues a list of essential classroom equipment: "Liquid soap: always wash your hands before lunch and immediately after grading papers." He also recommends carrying a pencil sharpener, paper clips, a clock that works and - rather less predictably - cheese and peanut-butter crackers. Then (wait for it) he specifies "some type of anti-diarrhoea medicine".

At this point I began to feel the book was addressing a reader remote from me in age, attitude, culture and humour. Mr Kitchen is strong on reassuring hints such as what to do if you leave your trouser zip down (answer: laugh hysterically to show that you're human), but unnervingly short on pedagogy.

There are, however, more laughs in this Kitchen than in Delia's.

Geoff Barton is headteacher at King Edward VI school, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

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