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My first class

Kathryn Munro guides you through five days in the working week of a probationer teacher.

Primary Teacher, St Joseph's Primary School, Edinburgh

I sat in an empty dark staffroom on 14 August, ready to begin my first ever in-service day. Everyone else must be in the classrooms.

I debated with myself whether I should walk around the school and pretend I knew where I was going or wait in the staffroom and act like I was completely relaxed until someone came in.

As I was about to get up and wander, Mrs Robertson, the Learning Support teacher, appeared to greet me.

She addressed me by name, which I was surprised at, as I had met most of the staff briefly in June but names and faces were already forgotten.

Mrs Robertson showed me to my new classroom where I met and chatted with my mentor and job share, Mrs Goodwin.

At least that was the awkward stage over. The next two days seemed like a breeze, preparing the classroom, planning new timetables, becoming familiar with names on the register.

Meeting the children

The real challenge was "Doomsday", meeting the children! The plan was that Mrs Goodwin would introduce me to the new primary six class and leave me to it. In my head I was screaming, "don't go!"

But she left and I was on my own. I had 18 expectant faces staring at me. Time to put one intensive year of training into practice!

Everything I had learned temporarily vanished from my memory. I had to transform into a professional actor, putting on a convincing show of knowing what I was doing.

Thankfully, over the next few days and weeks techniques and approaches resurfaced from memory.

Everyone tells you the first five months are then hardest. For me, this was true. I had to get used to the class, timetables procedures, staff and the school. Everything I was faced with was completely new:

  • forward plans
  • assessment
  • class mass
  • class assembly
  • parents' night

But I had so much support from my mentor, Head Teacher and from all of the staff that their encouragement helped me through.

Learning the routine

After Christmas I felt I had really found my feet. I had my own routine, the children trusted me and I was beginning to fully enjoy the whole experience of teaching.

At the beginning of the year I was quite smug about having only 18 pupils in my class, but this wasn't to last. By the end of the year my number was up to 24, as the numbers were constantly growing in my school!

The second parents' night seemed to go by much faster than the previous one and I was much more at ease with the parents.

Forward plans became a necessity, rather than a prison sentence. I sped through evaluations, because I came to know the children so well and knew their strengths and weaknesses offhand.

I became so wrapped up in routines, trips out, Easter preparations, and of course the all time consuming school performance, that I didn't see the end of year creeping up on me.

Our school will be performing the Pied Piper on the last day of term, starring most of my P6s. I know I'll be an emotional wreck that day, saying goodbye to my 24 "little treasures".

Highs and lows

I've had lots of ups and downs over the last year, luckily more highs than lows. They say you will never forget your first class. I know this is the truth.

I will have the whole experience of my probationary year locked into memory, but it will always be remembered with fondness.