Susan looks back on her memories of being an NQT and offers her advice.
I’ve been teaching for over a decade, but I still remember that first year in the big wide teaching world. It is very much sink or swim. You are no longer supervised by a mentor, no one can glare at pupils misbehaving that you haven’t noticed in your lesson. It is all down to you!
A few events stick in my mind from all those years ago. The first was that on my first day meeting the Year 11 pupils. And I must add these were girls who had to do GCSE PE as compulsory in their core lessons. The top set were nice and a few came over saying ‘what can we call you miss? We need a nickname?’ Obviously by my name but at least that’s friendly.
Then I met the class I had be assigned. Bottom set. These are girls who do not like PE, have no interest in learning skills let alone the theory behind it. And it was last lesson on a Friday, so how on earth do you get them motivated?!? I tried all the tricks you get taught at university, different teaching methods, use of the OHP (no interactive whiteboards back then), books, discussions and even letting the most disruptive girl write on the board so she was involved and quiet. However, this then annoyed others who said she wasn’t doing the work so they wouldn’t do it. Aaaahhhh.
Then as all keen young teachers do I came back to work too soon after being sick, and had this class on my first day back. They kicked off again about their poor grades in a mock, blaming me for being a crap teacher. I was just too weak to cope and ended up walking out the room to the nearest office and crying, meaning another teacher had to finish my lesson for me. One of these girls never forgot that, and when I was teaching her sister a few years later she came in to visit and told her to play up as they would make me cry! Nice hey!
The positives from that first year were the characters I met. I was on duty with some Year 11 pupils each week who were so lovely and chatty and I am actually still in contact with them now they are adults. I loved teaching, I wanted to get better, and I put all my efforts into extra-curricular and had the most hard working netball team in Year 7.
It’s such a tough year, and now NQTs have more paperwork than we did when I started so that’s even harder. But if you still get a thrill for planning and teaching the day after a crap lesson it is the job for you. If you start to resent it, maybe it’s not. You can’t teach unless you love it. It’s just too much hard work and stress.
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