Preparation is my motto

4th February 2005 at 00:00
Two terms into my first year and I've learned to take on unexpected challenges and remember that I have a life outside school.

I was a nursery nurse for eight years then, five years ago, I made a life-changing decision and started a full distance learning degree with the London Metropolitan University. I was 43 when I did my PGCE last year, and I specialised in early years and key stage 1.

I thought I was prepared for a teacher's life. I was delighted when I was asked to interview for a Year 1 job; terrified when offered a Year 4 class.

I ummed and ahhed, but I took it. I spent the summer worrying about teaching Year 4. But I needn't have. As well as all the support from the school, I've not had a backache for the entire year - an occupational hazard of working in early years.

I wasn't prepared for the long hours and the first term was overwhelmingly hard work, with no life outside school. But I managed to build a great relationship with my class and discipline is good. As long as I prepare properly, I'm fine. Thorough planning and resourcing of lessons has made me more confident in class.

The Christmas break did not come too soon. My relationship was stretched to the limit with my partner. I've learned how important it is to get away from school and make time for your family. This spring term has started well. I'm more au fait with the curriculum and I'm much more comfortable with my job - I love it. So "hang in there".

Alison Griffin is a Year 4 teacher at St Stephen's school in the London borough of Lambeth

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