Ready, steady, teach - Take note, just not on paper

12th September 2008 at 01:00

I am personally responsible for the dwindling Brazilian rainforest. Over three years of teacher training I have single-handedly amassed folder upon folder of paperwork: plans, assessments, worksheets and things that might come in handy.

During my final teaching practice I had an epiphany. Picture the scene: it's the final Monday morning of a 10-week placement. It's 6.30am, it's raining and I'm at a bus stop. There are plenty of other professional people waiting, but I can tell you with some certainty that they aren't teachers. First, I am the only person wearing sensible shoes and a floral skirt. Secondly, I am the only one juggling four folders of paper, a tambourine and a model skeleton.

Was this going to be how I spent the next 35 years of my career? Three options presented themselves to me:

A) Give up a profession I hadn't even begun, but fallen in love with. Trade in my tambourine and skeleton for a nice briefcase and spend each day going slowly mad behind a water cooler.

B) Purchase a donkey. It would make an unusual classroom pet when not carrying my literacy plans.

C) Cut back on paperwork.

Option C is easier said than done. As a trainee teacher, you have a small queue of people demanding paperwork every day. Headteachers, class teachers, lecturers, parents, Ofsted . the list goes on. In a world dominated by assessment and statistics, how could I, a lowly trainee, justify a purge?

But then I considered one of those all-important statistics. After three years of training, 40,000 words of assignments and 960 hours of teaching practice, my university colleagues and I are one perm and an Mamp;S cardigan away from being real teachers.

Though mildly terrified, we are now out in the real world doing a job we are passionate about. Yet two out of five new teachers will leave by the end of the first year, driven away by repetitive hours of form filling.

I will not be in that number. I know where I want my energy to be focused - on exciting, fun, informative teaching. So, because some paperwork is unavoidable, I'm off to buy carrots for my donkey.

Jennifer Day is a new teacher at Bure Park Primary in Bicester, Oxfordshire.

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