The present study focuses on the way novice teachers, who are part of a one-year postgraduate diploma in post-primary teaching, have opted to negotiate their status as school teachers. In particular, it asks why novice teachers prefer to hide as they scramble to learn how to teach. On the basis of three separate interviews spaced out though the teaching year 2009 (January, March, May), a team of university-based tutors probed for student reactions to competence-based issues. Adopting a sociocultural perspective, this study drew upon roughly 10% of the pre-service student cohort (n = 17), each in a different placement location. The study looked, in particular, at their negotiating power, particularly the effect of school supports for their reality as learners. Findings suggest that without quality mentoring support, our pre-service teachers prefer to become 'invisible' as learners. Three pre-professional stances are identified: fragile, robust and competitive. The key finding is that none of these pre-professional stances mitigate pre-service students' lack of negotiating power. On the other hand, informal school-based supports can help students considerably.