On probation

20th March 2009 at 00:00

Time is moving on very fast at school and I'm only a few weeks away from the end of term three. The children's final reports are due for completion and my second parents' evening is on the horizon. This time around, though, I feel less apprehensive and am ready to handle whatever is thrown at me.

My daily responsibilities as a beginning teacher remain crazy and every day continues to offer me a new learning experience. Whether it's handling a situation when a child runs out of the class or advice from my principal teacher on managing girls' behaviour, it is a steep learning curve.

As I write this, I can sense myself developing those "teacher" attributes; as I look back on my day, I consider what went well and what did not. Am I becoming a reflective practitioner? I find talking about my day with other people, including my colleagues at school, is a crucial part of developing my confidence and refining my skills as a teacher. Sharing my practice with the other probationer has been an immense help. Knowing we are both encountering the same challenges shows I am not alone; it is very reassuring.

The variety of the job is amazing. When I arrived at the school grounds last week, I couldn't believe my eyes. In the playground, a crowd of children stood waving banners, chanting "Save our janny, save our janny!!" National television camera crews and the local press were in attendance, interviewing parents and children about saving the school janitor, who would be leaving as a result of cut-backs. The children were determined to keep their "janny", someone they saw as central to the school and a key figure in their lives. So, with the permission of their parents, they had gone on strike and were unwilling to enter the school until a decision was reached to keep him.

It was strange standing in my empty classroom with the children on strike outside. Eventually, they made their way back in for afternoon classes, though with little success from their protest.

I remember being told that the probationary year would throw up a lot of different experiences. This is not the kind of thing I expected.

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