What I've learned

15th August 2003 at 01:00
Kathryn Knapp says proper preparation is vital when you are starting out

When I started to look for a job, I found myself back at my old primary school. The head had recognised my name from the NQT pool. He rang me and asked: "Are you the Kathryn Knapp I used to teach aged 11?"

I liked the school the moment I walked back in, though it had changed a lot. Being an old pupil was an advantage, and I was brought up in this village so the pupils' parents know me.

My PGCE set me up well. I felt prepared to teach all aspects of the curriculum, and was up on classroom management. Because I have friends and family in teaching, I was aware of the nature of the job. The initial challenge came from suddenly being responsible for 25 people. On teaching practice, you don't have that sole responsibility.

In any school, there's a lot of staff, and it can be embarrassing on your first day because you don't know names. For learning names and getting to know the layout of the school, I'd recommend going in during the summer term. I also did a lot of work over the summer to set up my classroom systems.

I took a while to get to know my class, so I had planned some activities that were not suited to their ability, their behaviour or their concentration. I spent the first term getting used to it all, adjusting, working out what worked for me, and what didn't.

I ask a lot of questions - I have an inquisitive nature, which helps.

That's why I went into school so much. I thought: "If I know the answer now, I won't look like a fool on the first day when everyone else is in assembly and I'm still in my classroom."

Kathryn Knapp, 24, is a new teacher at Mayhill junior school in Hook, Hampshire. She was talking to Martin Whittaker

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