Staying put for the right reasons

7th September 2007 at 01:00
So, what made me decide to be a teacher? An unquenchable desire to lead, inspire and motivate teenagers? A passion for my subject? Well, not entirely, no. My final year of university was tough, with barely enough time to eat never mind apply for "proper" jobs (my university peers' words not my own). I needed something lined up, and tempted by the promise of a wage to train, and the knowledge I would be snapped up for a shortage subject, I applied and was accepted to do my PGCE.

The PGCE was challenging, but I enjoyed it and was looking forward to my NQT year, saying farewell to my nomad days and teaching my own kids in my own room. I applied for my first job and was accepted. My interview had gone swimmingly; the children had been a pleasure to teach and wore blazers and ties (always a good sign, I thought). My new school looked wonderful the old town grammar with its beautiful red brick and sash windows, and a recently redecorated, fully-equipped classroom. I was ready. Or so I thought.

September, October and November were spent almost entirely in tears (and I hadn't cried once during my PGCE). I lost more than half a stone (I was eight stone to begin with), I had worse acne than the kids I taught, mouth ulcers, and a worryingly large amount of hair in my plughole after washing it. My body was quite literally rejecting my career choice.

By some miracle, however, I have survived. Although there were low points (a pupil rolling a Rizla during one of my lessons, my Year 11 mock exam results and generally being regularly verbally assaulted), they are now genuinely outweighed by the high points.

Pupils think my love for my subject is funny, but they sometimes get caught up in it too. Towards the end of term, they asked constantly if I was staying and if I would be teaching them this year and seemed moderately pleased when I confirmed I would (high praise indeed from teenagers). And of course the mouth ulcers are gone, the hips are back and my pony tail is getting thicker by the day.

I went into teaching for all of the wrong reasons, but I'm staying for all the right on **

Lydia Blain teaches maths in Worcestershire. She has just finished her new teacher year

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