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Changes and challenges

Sarah Brough looks back at a year of changes as she searched for a permanent teaching post.

Primary Teacher, Hecklegirth Primary, Dumfries and Galloway

Last June, I said a tearful goodbye to Hecklegirth Primary, my first ever class and my wonderful supporter Mrs McQueen. As I left the school where I had spent my probation year I had no idea that within a few months I'd be back.

New challenges

In August I began my first year of full registration as 0.6 trainee support combined with 0.3 management support teacher at Noblehill Primary in Dumfries. It's a larger school than Hecklegirth, with 10 classes, a learning centre and a nursery.

Initially, I was apprehensive at working in three different classrooms across the week, P1 to P7/6, but this settled as I established a routine. Working with several colleagues allowed me to see different teaching styles and I felt less pressure as responsibility is limited.

I found that working in different classrooms helped me to enhance my teaching skills and become more flexible. The job taught me many lessons in working with others and also in professionalism, a vital aspect of teaching in the 21st century.

My job "evolved" to cope with changing staffing situations, finding me teaching in more classrooms than the original three allocated. There were lessons to be learnt everywhere.

Although I often had apprehensions, I always challenged myself to meet the new expectations, secure in the knowledge that an incredibly supportive headteacher and staff team would be behind me.

Leaving the stability of probation

I soon began to crave the constant feedback and reassurance of the induction year. At Noblehill this was satisfied through less formal means with colleagues always interested in how I was managing and available to help when I needed them.

There were several new members of staff in the infant department there, which led to a real feeling of togetherness and respect. I had also found myself playing a supporting role to two probationers, giving me more confidence in my own ability and knowledge.

A permanent position

In December I found out that a permanent position was being advertised back at Hecklegirth. Due to continuing staffing changes, my temporary contract at Noblehill and other sensible considerations such as my new mortgage, I decided to apply for the position.

Everyone was very supportive as they realised how complicated my choice was.

The interview at Hecklegirth was in January and I was very lucky to be appointed. I had very mixed feelings about leaving Noblehill as I had truly enjoyed working with such a supportive and caring team of professionals in a very forward-thinking school.

This February, I returned to the same class I had left only 8 months earlier. As I stood in front of the children, now in P5, I reflected on how different I was as a teacher: much more adaptable, firmer and ultimately having more self belief.

Settling in again

Looking to the future, in August I will be moving to an infant class as part of a major staff re-shuffle and P1 is to be my new challenge for the next few years.

After spending several months of moving between several classes in a week, the thought of being in one classroom for years is quite strange!

My one piece of advice to everyone finishing their probation year is to be brave and just go for it because you will never discover what you are capable of unless you constantly challenge yourself.