#2 On why I’m leaving teaching after less than a year as an NQT – I want my life back

It is almost nice to read that I’m not the only one who has had these thoughts! The overworked teacher is common place at my school too, though I must say, despite probably putting in more work than some pupils, the pride I feel when they succeed either in achieving or exceeding their ‘target’, or tell me I’m their favourite teacher and they thank me for their lessons, that is enough for me to put up with the hours lost to planning, marking and general admin.

CyclistLiam

When I first started this blog my aim was in no way to only have two blog posts about why I’m thinking about leaving before I’d made up my mind. I was hoping to do a whole series, maybe actually have some people read it, get involved in the “twittersphere”, get into some lively debates. The reason I haven’t done this is: teaching.

On announcing my notice being handed in over twitter with the hashtag “#NQT” one person responded and asked me why. I thought that it would be impossible to respond in 140 characters and suddenly remembered that I have a blog as a platform for this exact sort of situation.

I mentioned in my first post on this matter that I was sexually assaulted in the classroom – a moment which will never leave me now I very much doubt. That is by no means the major contributing…

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Finally Half-Term

Hooray a week off! I have decided I am doing absolutely no work tonight, cooking a lovely dinner and watching a movie snuggled in the sofa with my man. 

I have a lovely week planner that lives on my desk at work, but I’ve brought it home for the week because there is so much I want to get done that I don’t know how I’ll remember it all. 

31 books to mark, a scheme of work to develop for Y7, scour the TES for some new fun activities to spice up some of my lessons, plan some fun C1 revision sessions, update my data, write reports, then clean the bedroom, Hoover EVERYWHERE, go to the dentist, catch up with family and a catch up with my School Direct buddies… I think I’ll need a holiday after this half term haha. 

For the love of teaching

This week my pupils have reminded me why I love teaching and that I am actually good at what I do. I asked some pupils in my bottom set if they could summarise why they like me as their teacher; I took what they had written to the head when I had to interview for a permanent position. 

It was so uplifting to read how I had helped them by building their confidence and just giving them my time meant so much to them!

Today was the last lesson with my year 11’s before they go on study leave, they all asked me to write in their leavers books and in return I let them write on my lab coat as they are my first year 11’s. I couldn’t believe the lovely messages that they wrote; about how much they have enjoyed their lessons, that I am their favourite teacher, and how much they will miss our lessons.  It really made my heart soar to know that I have made such a difference to them. 

I have the best job in the world! 

The week I found time to get a permanent job

What a mad week it was; got told on Friday after school that I’d have an interview the following Monday, but had an after school club on Friday followed by Y11’s manically trying to finish heir coursework and some just doing revision. Didn’t leave school till 6pm. 

Spent most of the weekend preparing for the interview, which was after school so then had to manage to actually teach all day and meet a parent before I was face to face with 3 of the senior leadership team. 

I GOT THE JOB! 

The rest of the week played out as usual, at school till 6:30 every night, marking coursework when I got home, not enough time don’t with the boyfriend. 

Where has the weekend gone?

So it is Sunday again, how does it come around so quickly? I’m sure my pupils will be asking themselves the same thing.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but I miss my life. I know from reading other NQT blogs that I am not alone in this.
I’ve tried staying late in the week to do planning, but always decide it is better to do my marking at school so I don’t have to cart a class set of books home.
I’ve tried doing all my planning on Friday night and Saturday morning, so I will at least get one day off at the weekend, but in reality I have just enough energy to cook dinner and fall asleep on Friday, so planning takes up all of Saturday, and as the terms comes to a close I have a multitude of end of unit tests to mark as well as books.

In comparison to last year though, I have at lest been able to go to a wedding, visit my mam on the other side of the country and even a date night or two. So it is definitely getting better, but I can’t wait to be in the position where I can leave my work at school on Friday and not think about it again till Monday.

If anyone has any suggestions that would help with the work life balance I would love to hear them.

Miss Zosha x

Ten more get-ups!

It is hard to believe that this time last year I was only starting on this roller-coaster ride to becoming a qualified teacher; I am now almost a full term into my NQT year and it has been more eventful than I could have imagined.

Monday, the first inset day of the new school year; timetable and class lists printed out, a whole day of inspirational talks and discussions about active learning and measuring progress. I went home that day feeling motivated and excited.

Tuesday, the second inset day of the new school year; we found out that the head of subject was going to be signed off for almost 3 months starting the following week, this would mean that my whole timetable had to change.

The rest of the week went by in a blur of meeting my tutor group for the first time, learning names, and working out a long-term plan for the units I would be teaching my classes. Over the next two weeks my timetable changed 4 times! It was the most stressful and nerve wracking time of my life, I was constantly questioning myself; was I teaching the right unit, who was my line manager, who was my mentor, was I experienced enough to be teaching a very bright year 12 class who I was convinced were far smarter than I was.

I spent the next month constantly playing catch-up with my planning and marking; I had this wonderful idea that every day I would stay late after school to mark the books for the classes I had taught that day… needless to say I was never able to get through all my class books in the 2.5 hours between the end of school and closing time. I was lucky if I got through one class set.

To add to the pressure I had to meet with the Head of School once a week as he wanted to ensure I was receiving enough support and was able to deliver quality teaching, especially with regards to my year 12 class. While this sounds great to have such a supportive head, I was terrified every time I went to him with my lesson plans and ideas. I was sure I wouldn’t be able to impress him with my teaching abilities and when the time came to review my temporary contract there would be no way he would want someone as inexperienced as me on his staff.

Life as an NQT is definitely vastly different to my year as a trainee teacher, I used to be up till 2 or even 3am trying to plan amazing lessons that were active and planned for progress with plenty of assessment for learning and activites that were differentiated to suit all the needs of all learners. The highlight of this school year was spending 5 hours on a Sunday about 6 weeks into the term and planning all my lessons for the rest of the week; I felt like a champion!

I still include some active learning tasks, throw in a progress indicator and try to simplify tasks for the lower ability learners, but the differentiation is not as extensive as it once was. I remember my mentor telling me last year “It’s sad but you just won’t have the time to do that next year”, and she was right. Now my time is taken up with; providing meaningful feedback in exercise books, marking tests and setting targets for improvement, inputting data and identifying which pupils need intervention, attending a multitude of after school meetings, CPD sessions, parents evenings, options evening… the list goes on.

I have started arriving at school an hour and 45 minutes before lessons start to print off worksheets and do some marking, so if like this week we have an event or information evening that goes on till 20:30, I spend over 14 hours at school!

I have had my first parental complaint about my teaching methods; their child wasn’t learning anything in my lessons and there were too many practicals! That was soon resolved when the pupil achieved higher than their target grade in the end of unit test and I hate to say it but I felt very smug knowing I hadn’t failed.

In a PSHE lesson the teacher asked pupils if there was ever a teacher in their school life who changed how they see coming to school, who made time for them and listened to them and really made a difference, two pupils raised their hands and said “Miss Zosha”, and that is what I do it for, for those two pupils.

There is still a lot more I have to learn and I learn new things everyday about teaching from my colleagues and from the pupils, but let me finish by telling you this – I wouldn’t change it for the world.

For the love of teaching

I am almost finished my teacher training and the last two weeks have been the toughest I have had to face; infidelity in the family, finding out our landlord has past away and we have to buy the house or move out in the next couple if months as well as the usual lesson planning, marking books, marking tests choosing next years coursework.
I struggled to keep focused, and I found it hard to give my all to the lessons I was planning. As a result the quality of my lessons suffered, and it was picked up by my mentor and other faculty staff.
I felt like I had let them down, but most if all I was disappointed in myself.
My mentor, who is also a close friend sat me down and said “what’s happened? That lesson was one I would expect from a new trainee, but your lessons were brilliant from the start. I never thought I’d see a lesson like that from you”
At this point I burst into tears; I’m not a cryer, I rarely cry! Don’t get me wrong I’m not cold hearted or lacking in emotion I just don’t think crying helps the situation. I usually find the source of whatever had upset me and set out to fix it. But in this day, the flood gates opened. I confided in her all that had been happening at home and how I felt my enthusiasm waning; the teaching lifestyle was putting a strain on all my relationships and although deep down I knew I loved teaching at this point I wasn’t sure if it was worth the cost.
My mentor hugged me and said “ok, so let’s see what we can do to fix this.” She have me the strength to stand up to my future mother and brother -in law and say “look, I know we all live here together and I really like your friends, but having them round every night of the week is exhausting!” I have also been able to claim the spare room as a part time study so I no longer have to work in my room or at the dining table ( it’s all open plan downstairs so there is no where quiet to go when visitors call).
My mentor also helped me find my motivation and enthusiasm, she reminded me of all the things I love about teaching.
All it took was to have that one person really believe in me and help me see the little pieces I needed to make the bug picture.
So this weekend I have spent hours making my lessons sparkle and show once again my passion for my subject.
It’s still hard, but you have to find a way of creating that space where you can shut out the rest of the world and focus on what you love.