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Life to the max

Mary Newton, a mother of two, fears that one day she'll put the jotters in the washing machine and mark the laundry.

Primary Teacher, Netherlee Primary School, East Renfrewshire

Halfway through my year as a probation teacher, I sometimes find it hard to remember when I had evenings free of marking and preparation.

I went to Jordanhill as a forty-something mature student, wife and mother of two boys. I now find myself teaching a P3 class in Netherlee Primary School, south of Glasgow. It has close to 700 children and about 80 teaching and non-teaching staff. There are four of us probationers, in P2 to P5 classes.

My day starts with the alarm clock at 6.45. My husband leaves for work an hour earlier so there are three of us to get out to school. David (14) asks if I think he needs a shave, while Andrew (10) munches his way through the first of four Weetabix.

Once the boys set off, I am soon at my desk. I have a quick chat with Janis - one of my stage partners who is largely responsible for keeping me afloat this year - about our Viking topic. Before I know it, it's 9 o'clock.

Morning

"Did you pass your tap-dancing exam?" Sophie asks. I had told the children about the exam I was taking on Sunday. I have promised to show them a step or two at our end-of-session class talent show. Hopefully they'll have forgotten by then.

I take the register and collect permission slips and money for Vikingar. I show the children the picture that Rebecca has brought of Up Helly Aa celebrations. "Does anyone know where the Shetland Islands are?" I ask. "Is it in New York?" "Is it in Holland?" "Is it near Blackpool?" Oh well, we've only looked at the continents so far in our atlases.

The morning's language programme assumes that there will be three adults in the class. Bad news. Sheila, a classroom assistant, is sick. Never mind; Paula, the SEB assistant and I will manage. Paula pops her head round the door to say that she won't be able to help either. I quickly reorganise the work during the interval.

After the morning interval we have a short language session and then ICT. We begin research for a piece of writing that the children will do on the Vikings, using books and articles in the classroom as well as the internet.

Afternoon

Maths. The children are placed in sets for maths in P3 and I have the middle set. They had some difficulties initially, but we have battered on and they are running away with the subtraction element.

Preparing for the next day

At 3.30pm I tidy the classroom and begin to set up the room for tomorrow. My first lesson is to be an Observed Teaching Session and I will be teaching creative writing.

I also have my weekly mentoring session first thing in the morning. Linda, my mentor has a seemingly endless supply of useful resources to lend us probationers. If I don't have big issues to discuss, I go along for a chat. Sometimes the most valuable sessions start out that way.

Hometime

I'm as ready as I'll ever be so I go to my own children before they forget what I look like.

I am instantly in "Mum" mode. David had details of his ski trip in a few weeks, while Andrew is full of plans for Red Nose Day. After dinner, I put a load of washing in the machine and settle down to some marking. It is only a matter of time before the Jolly Phonics jotters go into the machine and I stamp happy faces all over the dirty laundry.