Under starter's orders

29th February 2008 at 00:00
It is a far cry from your PGCE, but you are finally doing what you have been chomping at the bit to do for the past year: you are a teacher (well, almost). My greatest fear was parents' evenings. I was worried that they would not be impressed by a young-looking, inexperienced biology teacher. I was wrong. They were lovely and I think they appreciated the fact that their daughters were being taught by a new teacher with fresh ideas, energy and enthusiasm.

Another thing that worried me was getting "found out" by my pupils. I thought I would lose their respect if they knew they were my first set of "proper" classes. I avoided this conversation by using two placement schools from my PGCE as examples of previous jobs.

My Year 13s took about a minute to see through this thinly veiled lie and have proceeded to be my main source of information on school procedures throughout my first year. They seem to take pride in helping me and feel special as they are my first A2 class. I know I will remember them fondly for the rest of my teaching career.

My initial worries soon evaporated, to be replaced by new and varied issues.

I had never written a report. I had never done playground duty. I had never had a girl tell me she was worried about her friend's eating habits. I had never dealt with a panic attack and I had never advised pupils on university applications.

All of these things came my way within my first term as a new teacher. And I dealt with each one.

All the training in the world on a PGCE course cannot prepare you for what you will be faced with once you are teaching, so there is no point trying to predict what is going to happen. That is one of my favourite things about this job.

I come to school every day and I don't know what is going to happen. I know that someone or something will frustrate me and someone or something will make me laugh out loud, sometimes until my stomach hurts. You cannot ask for a better job than that.

Elyse Waites is a new teacher in Wimbledon, south-west London.

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