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.