Joanna Gardner

20th June 2008 at 01:00
What's the best bit of your job?
Works for the Traveller Education Support Service in Suffolk

What's the best bit of your job?

Traveller families are wonderful people. It's been fascinating to have an insight into their lives.

And the worst?

If a child doesn't turn up at school, it's my job to investigate where they are. I always seem to have a dozen messages on my phone.

Who's been the biggest influence on your career?

Bill McGrory, my first headteacher. Your first job is make or break, and I was lucky to have a head who always encouraged and never criticised.

How's your work-life balance?

I work in lots of different schools, so all the driving around can make life seem hectic. On the plus side, I don't have to go to parents' evenings or write reports.

Best professional training?

At my last school I got stuck with the job of RE co-ordinator, because no one wanted it. I was dreading it, until I went on a brilliant course by Helen Matter, a then local authority advisory teacher for RE. It taught me how to make RE exciting and creative by using drama and photographs. After that I put more effort into planning my RE lessons. From then on, I loved teaching it.

What's your ambition?

I'd like to move back into the mainstream and become a deputy head. Or maybe a head. Why not?

How have you changed as a teacher?

I now pay far more attention to the pastoral side of the job. I think that it's partly to do with becoming a parent myself.

Highlight of your career?

My first job was at the same school I went to as a child. Going into the staffroom for the first time was a really big moment.

What advice would you give an NQT?

Make friends with the caretaker and the secretary. They're the most important people in the school.

Most embarrassing moment?

When I took my class on a walk through the local village, I made a song and dance of the risk assessment and how ridiculous the form was, and put "stepping in dog poo" as the biggest hazard. On the walk I gathered the class round and while I had their attention stepped back into a cow pat.

Joanna Gardner, 33, was talking to Steven Hastings


1996-1998: Teacher at Minterne Junior School, Sittingbourne, Kent

1998-2002: Teacher at Ambleside Junior School, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey

2003-2004: Part-time teacher at Easton Primary School, Woodbridge, and Grange Primary School, Felixstowe, both in Suffolk

2004-now: Advice liaison teacher for the Traveller Education Support Service, Suffolk.

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