Reflecting on probation

Valerie Stoddart on lessons learnt so far during her probation year.

Valerie Stoddart, Probationer Teacher

As Christmas approached I could hardly believe that I was almost half-way through my probationary year and, so far, I had managed to come through it relatively unscathed.

I had survived my first open afternoon meeting the parents; my first whole school assembly with the class performing in front of staff, pupils and parents; my first venture into class enterprise and my first bout of class coughs and sneezes (I am working on the principle that I am too busy this year to be ill!).

However, I could honestly say that I was looking forward to my two weeks Christmas holidays with real excitement this year.

Not because of all the festivities and the impending visit from Santa (my 10 year old still believes in the magic) but because of the odd chance of the luxury of a long lie (what are those?) and the thought of no planning for two whole weeks.

Looking back

As 2007 drew to a close I took a few minutes to sit and reflect on my experiences. Both my headteacher and my mentor have been extremely supportive, encouraging and praising when appropriate.

The rest of the staff team are always happy to help me out and are never too busy to give advice or support when needed. Other memorable experiences include:

  • Feeling from the start that I was welcomed into the school with open arms and made to feel part of the team right from the start, so much so that I can hardly believe that I have only been part of the team for a matter of weeks.
  • Wishing the ground would open up and swallow me when I said to the parents I would show them my big chest but then felt very reassured when one parent shared with me later that she had thought I was really funny and knew her daughter was going to have a good year! So far, so good.
  • Beaming from ear to ear when another member of staff said she keeps forgetting that I am not a "seasoned teacher" as I always seem so organised in comparison to her.
  • Crying when the headteacher praised my class in front of the whole school and parents after our fireworks assembly and said well done; we had met all four areas of the Curriculum for Excellence through our performance.
  • Looking forward to the regular CPD meetings with fellow probationers and the opportunity to share how we are all coping, and pool ideas and resources. Why reinvent the wheel when someone else has already done the work?

But my proudest achievement is getting one pupil who did not have a previous good track record to interact more with their peers and be much less disruptive in the class. Things are looking up.

So, if the last few months are anything to go by, I can only look forward to next year with pleasure and not in trepidation and keep my fingers crossed that I will get a job at the school after my probation period is over!