In my mind, and in those of plenty of other teachers, the weekly post-work catch-up in the pub is, to all intents and purposes, a form of therapy.
As a new teacher, I have certainly found that when everything has gone horribly wrong, a glass of wine is often the first step in the right direction.
After a spectacularly bad day last term that left me wondering if I should quit and take an easier job - lion tamer, perhaps - I sat being comforted by my fellow trainees and washed away my salty tears with a couple of glasses of red. It worked a treat.
But right now, because of ever-increasing timetable pressures, I don't feel I've got time for the weekly drink. After succumbing to peer pressure and turning off my computer last Friday, the guilt that racked my sorry soul meant I could barely enjoy my gin and tonic. I spent the rest of the evening resenting the pub for stealing planning time, and teaching for stealing my ability to relax.
Was I going to sacrifice my perfectly prepared lessons or my Rioja? Or, worse still, my sanity?
A fellow trainee said it wasn't good to work all hours and that winding down was equally important. He pointed to another of our cohort who would normally always rather work than have a drink, and who was looking a little worn down. To be honest, he had my sympathy. There's a lot to be getting on with.
My mentor, in a moment of Yoda-like sagacity, pointed out that a burned-out shell of a woman would be useless as a classroom professional. Although he was sympathetic to my plight, he reminded me that a strong support network was as important an aspect of the job as anything else. The pub sessions are a part of that network, and no one knows how tough being a trainee teacher is apart from others in the same position.
Another trainee who doesn't drink alcohol said something similar. The lime and soda she sips certainly doesn't possess any magical calming properties but the conversation that accompanies it definitely does.
I don't want to lose out on the important sessions where we swap horror stories. It's crucial to know that I'm not the only one dealing with fugitive children leaping from windows or starting compass fights (no one was seriously hurt).
So I've made a pact with myself. Once a week, the computer goes off and I pause to take a breath - and a sip of red.
The writer is a trainee teacher in London
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