On probation

20th February 2009 at 00:00

Already I am at the mid-term break; it only seems like yesterday that the Christmas holidays finished. January proved to be a mixture of ups and downs during my time in the classroom. Generally, the pupils returned a little more settled and were adjusting to me as their teacher. But it has been a rather flat period, with a seemingly endless succession of cold, wet and grey days that could be depressing.

Coughing and sneezing are constantly echoing around the school. Thankfully my immune system has withstood these circulating germs, with the exception of one day. The poor weather, too, has often meant keeping children in during lunch breaks. I have learnt fast how much children's behaviour can change when they are prevented from getting out to the playground. Afternoon lessons can become fairly demanding, and at times I feel as if I am dealing with caged-up animals. I need to think on my feet about how I can alter lessons to keep them under control. Luckily my colleagues in school have been on hand to offer suggestions; just keeping the children active has been the main advice.

I have referred in the past to how the PGDE just does not prepare you for the reality of teaching. Well, this is a prime example. I have found that eating well, topping-up with vitamin C, getting plenty of sleep and exercise, and generally looking after yourself is key to getting through this period. Winning our first Gaelic Football tournament at a recent sports event was a further boost for me and the class.

This term has been much better for doing some solid teaching with the children. There have been fewer school events to disrupt my weekly timetable. At a recent meeting with my mentor, she informed me that now was the time to hone my skills and knuckle down to the "nitty-gritty" of teaching.

As my probationary year flies past, I will soon turn my attention to next year and consider what possibilities might arise for me. The thought of this is scary, so I am trying to enjoy my time in school now, while I am fortunate to have it.

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