Sharing the load

Asking questions and sharing anxieties is an important part of probation, writes Jill Preacher.

Primary Teacher, Woodburn Primary School, Midlothian

Well, I've survived 6 months of being a probationer teacher. That might seem a long time, but it's surprisingly only 101 school days, one nativity, one school fair, one school trip, two parent's consultations and one much-appreciated fortnight holiday at Christmas.

I've been lucky enough to be placed in Midlothian Council, reaping the benefits of a small council. With only 40-something probationers, I've been able to share experiences with nearly all my peers at some point during the year and, as we all know, peer learning is the way forward!

Looking back at my own learning, this year has brought me so much more than a university placement or lecture ever could. I'm constantly referring back to tutorial notes, books or websites recommended by tutors or teachers I have met, using all the resources I can get my hands on.


I have a very supportive mentor, management team, 0.3 cover and stage partners who really help me and I am also lucky that there is another probationer within the school to worry and celebrate successes with.


The most important thing I've learnt is the ability to be flexible. Trying to be organised and plan my week, only to find out in the morning that the gym hall isn't available or somebody else is using all the red crayons is just part of the job. Now I know to check the calendar, get my resources in advance and be ready to change my whole timetable if I have to.


Observing other teachers in the school has been really useful; definitely something I will try to continue. It never fails to amaze me that whenever I go for one of these visits I always get given a job to do so the class teacher must welcome an extra pair of hands too!

Contact time

I'm looking forward to increasing my contact time with my own class over the next few months and, with help, I plan to start an after school club to increase my awareness of other aspects of school life. I am also organising time to observe teachers in other schools to continue to gather new ideas that I can use in my classroom.

Sharing the load

Finally, I would like to share a piece of advice given to me by a probationer last year. Try to befriend as many people as you can in your department or school so that you can share out all the anxieties that you will undoubtedly have.

You can ask questions and share worries all day long and, even though they say they don't mind (and I'm sure most teachers don't), you won't have to be concerned about always going to the same member of staff!