Lisa McKenzie student teacher of English Edinburgh University

23rd June 2006 at 01:00
This has been the most difficult year of my life so far. You just finished one thing and something else came up. It never seemed to end.

You came back from placement and they had something else for you, and you were already beat by that point.

Trying to make time for yourself and friends was hard. You couldn't get into a routine, and regular exercise went out the window.

I wasn't prepared for writing 5,000-word reports or 50 pages of classroom materials for each placement. Creative juices only go so far.

On placement you never got a chance to take a break and think. Preparing for a morning lesson at 10.30 at night - banging my head against a brick wall trying to come up with ideas - that worried me. I know people with families who were up past midnight.

The breakthrough came when I realised you don't have to be creative in every lesson. I thought you couldn't teach if you weren't being creative, because you have to make lessons exciting. When I realised I didn't have to come up with everything all by myself - that you could share resources, lessons plans and the packs they have in school - that made the difference.

If something works well you should use it. It's how you teach that counts.

Although it was tough, I never thought of jacking it in. In fact, it's been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done: like when pupils say how great it was having you as a teacher, or a teacher says "That pupil never writes anything", when you've just got a four-page story out of him.

It's just an amazing feeling to have 30 kids produce all that stuff and to know that you have reached them.

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