What I’ve learnt from my first half-term as an #NQT ✨

Long story short, training to be a teacher and being a teacher is tough during a pandemic (no matter how much experience you have) and these are just a few observations that might not even be useful.

#NQTSupport @MrTs_NQTs
1. It doesn’t matter how hard I try, there will be some weeks where organisation doesn’t exist. Teams work not marked, resources not printed, online lesson not posted in the first 10 minutes of the day. That’s okay. I just give myself a goal each week or try and prioritise.
2. Just because SLT/trainer/mentor don’t come to visit or praise you each day, it doesn’t mean you aren’t doing well. I’ve been at my school for two years now. While my ego would love praise, sometimes accepting no news is good news is good news enough. Especially in a pandemic.
3. As an NQT it’s still okay to experiment with lessons. Take some off the system. Try a new approach. Make your own every lesson. We still have a hall pass on this one!
4. Work/life balance still isn’t quite there. Work is still a priority and nothing ever feels done. Time to throw away the perfectionist. For the last 3 weeks of term I just came home, watched TV and snuggled in bed. I felt bad at first but I don’t now!
5. There’s always something to learn. It’s okay to make mistakes, just learn more and correct yourself. It’s okay to not have answers for the students. They don’t think any less if you Google it.
6. P5 on a Friday will always be touch and go. It’s okay if you inject humour to make it bearable. The kids and I all gave each other cute nicknames last week. For some reason the Yr7 decided I should be Miss Sarah. Yr8 went with Darren and shouted about being claustrophobic.
7. Marking on Teams is the worst and you will spend hours trying to find new ways to make students engage. Its okay to go through that trial and error. It’s new to everyone.
8. The dinner ladies are angels sent to give extra zinger nuggies and chocolate milk on duty days.
9. In fact, the TA/LSAs are angels too. Mine have kept me sane this half-term in my first mixed ability classes. It’s lovely to have someone to share a KitKat with during the fifth rewatching of Newsround that day.
10. Sometimes it’s okay to pick your battles with students, but whatever you start you have to finish.
11. Compassion is currently the most needed but hardest to cultivate skill at a time when we’re all nervous about our students, their futures, our health, our family’s health. Off days are acceptable.
12. Remember to bring in Tunnocks or other confectionary. Yes refined sugar is bad. Yes it is needed when everyone is on the edge after two hours of Year 9 and a lunch in between.
13. Taking over a Year 11 class was the scariest thing ever. I think I care about their futures more than some of them do. I need to take a step back for all our sakes.
14. On a side note, rambling, insomnia and a lack of proofreading are all now common for me. I’ve not proof read any of this because my brain is too tired to read properly.
15. Perfectionism cannot exist this year if you are to avoid burn out. Pick your priorities and excel in those.
16. Planning can feel like it takes a decade and is so easy to forget to do when you’ve got a full day, but it’s so important. My best lessons are those that I have spent a full half an hour working through.
17. Twitter is your friend most of the time. Remember though it’s still a place where people put up their highlights.
18. Try not to concern oneself with the progress of other NQTs. Knowing that teaching can still be a competition - awards and grades - is unhealthy for competitive sorts like myself. Stay in one’s lane!!
19. Make sure you are still getting your designated mentor and training time. It’s okay to fight for it! It’s yours!
20. Find a quiet place at school outside of an office or staff room if you’ve got some serious graft to do.
21. Join a union. Go to the meetings. It’s a helpful place to vent because lots of people tend to feel the same.
22. If you’re going to aim to be an expert in anything, then it needs to be your SEN. Make sure you have all the colour paper you need for students who can’t read off white. Keep it with you. Trust me on this. The pink paper hunt before P3 is not fun!
23. Don’t feel guilted by the hours others seem to do. So many factors play into this.
24. Remember to have some form of scaffolding up your sleeve and some aspect of stretch and challenge. It will be noticed.
You can follow @MissBEnglishNQT.
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