After nearly three months on my PGDE Primary course, I started on my infant school placement. On the first day I remember walking into my P1 class and seeing 25 loud and boisterous children in a room filled with every colour of the rainbow. This was very different from how I remembered it as a pupil. My initial thought was fear; how would I manage to control so many children with this amount of energy?
The placement gave me the opportunity to teach individual children, small groups and then the whole class. This gradual progression was good for me and allowed me time to develop skills with my teaching and, most of all, my classroom management.
I have learnt not to let more than four boys into the toilet together after lunch. In my first week, I let six children in and ended up with a water-fight on my hands.
I know that shouting at children to obtain silence serves nothing and that simply counting to three will gain the required response.
I've now had my first school "crit", where my university tutor came to observe me teaching. My concern was that the children behave and that I maintain their interest and focus for the lesson.
I spent hours preparing a maths activity which incorporated the interactive whiteboard in the hope of impressing my tutor. Of course, on the day, the school's computer network decided to shut down. My initial feeling was panic, but I had a back-up plan.
The crit went well and I managed to keep the children's focus after a five-minute questioning of who the strange man was. They came in after going to the tuck shop and all ran towards him, saying things like: "My name's John. What's your name? I like crisps."
I was pulled up for running out of Blu Tack and for asking questions in a way that might have had them all shouting out at the same time. But I was praised for getting control of the class by asking them to come away from my tutor and for doing a brain gym that got them up on their feet and moving.
These past four months have included days of ups and downs and questioning myself - is teaching the career for me? Late nights and hours of preparation are hard work, but seeing all those children smiling, ready for another day at school, has made it all worthwhile.