When I told people where I would be doing my new teacher year, I was met with horrified expressions and often a little squeak. "You be careful," someone told me, "you'll be mugged on the way out!"
This latest fear followed the nightmare of my PGCE year: would my pupils know more than me? I agonised over how I, with a degree in creative writing, was going to teach GCSE media. The mere mention of a compound sentence made me quake - and as for connectives? Sorry, what? A year of browsing mediaknowall.com and teachit.co.uk (couldn't live without it) and I was still none the wiser.
Great. Now not only did I have to teach adverbs and compound and complex sentences but I had to teach them to kids who, I was told, could barely spell their own name. I was less than enthused.
These thoughts made for a nightmarish summer, in which I dreamed of being chased out of my own classroom.
However, although the pupils "forget" more often than not to bring their ties - oh and pencils, pens and books - they make me laugh and if you give them the respect they deserve they do work hard.
Trying to create an exciting, stimulating, positive learning environment may not be going as well as planned (recently a Year 11 girl exclaimed, "Miss, it's too hot in here," and proceeded to remove her blouse) but being in a tough school has taught me just how far a smile in the morning, and a "please" and "thank you" can go.
My fears of being inadequate have also been quelled. One day, while trying to explain the concepts of socialism overpowering capitalism in An Inspector Calls, I realised the pupils were staring at me, mouths agape. "Oh no," I thought, as I prepared to make a run for it. But one of my Year 10 boys piped up, in his usual cheeky manner, "Wow Miss, you're quite clever for a blonde aren't you?"
Yes, actually, I am. I don't think I have ever smiled so much. Not only did it make my day, but my whole half-term. I think it's the best compliment I've ever had.
Laura Briggs is a new teacher in Lancashire.