'Workload made my head spin'

7th May 2004 at 01:00
Helena Thomas, 27 (left) Graduate Teacher Programme student, Goldsmiths College

I've had ups and downs but I can't complain about my training. My parents are teachers so I ought to have known about the realities of the job, but I had no concept of the amount of work teachers are expected to do. I don't know how full-time teachers do it. I'm in awe of them. But I still want to see what its like - to see if I can handle it.

I still have a mentor observing every lesson. But, effectively, I am the teacher. I'm happy to have done the GTP. I've been with my Year 7s since September and I have developed a real relationship with them. I'm really looking forward to next year I did find it hard after coming from an office. Nothing is made easy for you in a school. I worked for the National Theatre and that was a very social and relaxed atmosphere. Then you come into teaching and it seems there's no time to make friends.

I found it very hard to adapt to the working conditions in school: one computer between the entire English department, only three photocopiers for a staff of more than 100. And those are in another building so, despite photocopying being so vital to teachers' preparation, they have to walk an extra five minutes, going outside in the cold, to use the damn things.

The workload made my head spin and made me long for my previous career; it took about two months to master. Now, I am more a part of the team and have adjusted to the fact that, as teachers, not one part of your job is made easy for you.

I have also begun to get my head around the complexities of the curriculum, the strategies, the assessment criteria, the school rules, the behavioural policies and so on. I am embracing the challenge more and feel more part of a teacher community, which is great.

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