Welcome Miss Shark!

Caroline Sharp has developed some shark-like qualities to get her through the first few weeks of term.

Primary Teacher, Kingsland Primary School, Scottish Borders

The first four weeks with my new class have passed in the blink of an eye and the first day is now a distant memory.

My class and I have begun to get to know each other. During our first chat on the carpet it transpired that one child thought her new teacher was called Miss Shark and had discussed this the night before with her grandpa who thought this was an interesting name! This got me thinking, maybe a probationer teacher is a little like a shark!

Survival instinct

Sharks are good survivors and that survival instinct has definitely kicked in as I try to find my way through the forward plan process. With support from my school I have learnt some valuable lessons that will help me to survive the next phase!


Unlike sharks, which have had little need to evolve in the last 150 million years, I am evolving everyday as I try to make sense of my new situation. Charles Darwin would be proud at the speed at which I am evolving: I now have eyes in the back of my head and it spins round 360 degrees!

Thick skin

Shark skin is made of denticles instead of ordinary fish scales. The denticles are like hard, sharp teeth and help to protect the shark from injury. Developing a bit of a thick skin is essential for probationers too; there's no time to dwell on things that didn't go according to plan. Take it on board, learn and move on!

Being prepared

Sharks never run out of teeth. If one is lost, another spins forward from the rows and rows of backup teeth. That sounds familiar! How many times have I gone into school armed with plans and resources and other ideas just for back up?

Sixth sense

Sharks are successful predators because of their super senses. They have a sensory organ called the "ampullae of Lorenzini", which they use to feel electrical fields. I definitely need to develop that 'sixth' sense to be able to read my class and respond.

Food for thought

Some sharks eat plankton by swimming forward with their mouths wide open. "Gill rakers" at the back of their throat strain the tiny food from the water. I am scooping up masses of new information and still raking through it!

So, maybe there are a few similarities between sharks and probationers. We congregate in schools and don't really sleep. We just have active and inactive periods.

Every day is a challenge

All being said, the start of my probationary year has been positive but stressful. Every day is a challenge, but I have great support and I know I can ask for help to navigate through the murky waters ahead. There have been ups and downs, but the children in my class are great and certainly keep me on my toes!

If you can identify with a little of this, then, when the going gets tough, remember: s/he who laughs, lasts!