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Nerves are natural: my first day

Elaine Todd didn't let first day nerves get the better of her.

Primary Teacher, St Nicholas Primary School, West Lothian

I have to admit, at the start of term, I was in blind panic when thinking about how I would cope in class.

I'd been told after visiting the school I was placed in that I would be teaching Primary 7. This news was not what I'd expected! At first, there was fear . . . then panic. I'd only ever worked with a Primary 6 class on placement, and that was only for five weeks.

But, to be honest, after a day to process the news, I was really looking forward to it. This would be something different and I was ready for a wee change after continually working with infant classes on placement.

Preparation

I had been into school for four days over the summer holidays, for 3-5 hours each day just getting the classroom set up. In hindsight, I'm glad I did this as I felt more prepared for the first day of term.

The in-service day came . . . and went. I got to meet all the staff and my mentor sat me down to discuss any questions I had about the first week. I'd recommend chatting about any worries you're having - no matter how ridiculous you think the question may be (or how daft you may feel asking it!) there is always someone there to help.

I felt much better after talking with my stage partner about what to expect over the coming weeks. Working collaboratively with you're stage partner is also really important, I think I'd be lost without mine and I'm so grateful for all the little tips and bits of advice she has given me.

The first day

Before I knew it, it was the first day of term.

I'd arrived relatively early that morning just to double check everything in the classroom was still in place. It's strange the things that go through your mind: "What if all the desks have been removed?"

As the bell rang, my legs were like jelly. I couldn't understand why I was so nervous! I was not brave enough to bring in the line, a task which is now second nature to me, so my stage partner brought both classes in.

My new Primary 7 class piled into the classroom, and sat down in their chairs and then . . . there was silence. I think they were sussing me out, so I gathered them together and carried out the activities I'd arranged for the day (a few icebreakers, team-building exercises, deciding on class rules and such like).

Still standing

By break time, I was feeling much better and by lunch time, I was enjoying myself. At the end of the day, I couldn't wait for the next day to begin. It just goes to show nerves are natural and keep you on your toes!

So I made it through the dreaded first day, and the first week, and I'm still standing. Although it can seem daunting, you've got to take things one step at a time, and I think it's definitely fair to say that about every aspect in the probationary year.