Before you relax, review

The light that you see at the end of the term three tunnel is not an illusion, it is the summer holidays!

OK, so sometimes summer feels like an illusion in Scotland but the good news is that, regardless of the weather, the countdown to all those lovely long lie-ins, lollies and lazy days has begun.

You have made it through your first year and to coincide with those flushes of success, your theme song has changed from "I Will Survive" to something a lot mellower; I'm thinking "Ocean Drive" where "the sky is so blue, the sun's gonna shine on everything you do".

With a trusty marks book, dusty chalk or leaky board marker and smile as your best lines of defence, you have boldly traversed the galaxy to that rugged region known only to those who have been in NASA (not at school again, for another six weeks).

Do you feel the heady mix of fatigue and euphoria? You have been so busy getting here, you probably haven't even had time to realise you're coming up for your first anniversary.

Before looking forward to what's in store next, let's go through your end-of-year report and review some highlights.

You have moved from being an anonymous nobody to a well kent somebody among colleagues and pupils alike. Cast your mind back to the way it was when you first started. Remember feeling invisible as you walked along crowded corridors? Now sometimes I'm sure you wish you were, but really it is so much nicer knowing you have established a place for yourself and belong.

How about discipline? Don't panic, even experienced teachers never get that one totally cracked but at least you are more street-smart than when you arrived as a gormless, green quivering wreck. You have won over lots of children and have a better sense of perspective for dealing with those who are still a challenge.

You are not the rookie any more. Remember how many drafts you did of your first reports? Or how terrified you were of meeting parents for the first time? How about that first forward plan you had to hand in? You have made progress in all these areas and so your stress and fear levels concerning them have been reduced considerably.

Now let's look at that bank of work you have generated. You can go into your second year with a comforting resources blanket instead of having to create everything from scratch. In addition, you have a better idea of how best to sequence lessons and how long it will take to cover key aspects of the curriculum.

Finally, you can look back and say that, while it has often felt more like a whirlwind than a walk through a meadow, you have negotiated a path through year one and can go into the summer holidays knowing that you did it!

What next? My advice is simple. If you need to do school work, do it all in a chunk as close to the beginning of the holidays as you have the energy for, before you relax too much.

Once that's done, limit reflections on work to a maximum of three minutes a day. In the other 23 hours and 57 minutes, make sure you are having too much fun to even think about the "s" word!

Diane Allison teaches in Midlothian and is author of The Year of Living Dangerously: A Survivial Guide for Probationer Teachers (City of Edinburgh Council, pound;4.99)

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