Nothing can prepare you for some lessons

6th May 2005 at 01:00
ost new teachers expect to learn on the job. But the majority assume that planning lessons, observing colleagues and dealing with incoherent teenagers will reinforce the lessons learnt during teacher training.

In fact, as their first year at the chalkface nears its end, new teachers on The TES online staffroom have acquired life lessons rarely mentioned in a lecture theatre.

For some, the classroom has proven a demonstration ground for unshakable laws of nature. One teacher offered the irrefutable statement: "At least one child will always go home with paint on them, whether the paints were out or not."

Another countered with a handy set of classroom aphorisms: "The only certainties in life are death, taxes and nits. The less they write, the more they need to sharpen their pencils."

But if these lessons were not on the PGCE curriculum, they are as valuable as any career development session. "It's impossible to teach when any sort of insect is found in the classroom," said one contributor. "The pupils will cry, 'Don't kill it!' Nature-loving souls? Nah, they just want to drag the distraction on."

Another teacher was able to reduce her conclusions into a mathematical formula: "Playtime equals dispute settlement for the first 10 minutes of the lesson."

The classroom is also a training ground for the obstacle course of life.

Practical problems come with practical solutions, as one contributor demonstrated. "Boys in reception should be taught how to tie their own shoelaces, since targeted urination is a skill many do not acquire until adulthood. If then... " she said.

But the most important lesson for the NQT is summed up by a newly cynical contributor: you're not mad, they are. She said: "Students can look you innocently in the eye , like a seal about to be clubbed, and swear that black is white. Initially, it made me doubt my sanity, but now I'm becoming immune."

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