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From One NQT to Another...

Instagram handle : @Graceful_in_defeat

Twitter : @missccurwen

NQT in Derbyshire (Alfreton)

Subject : French at KS3 and KS4

Welcome to the world of teaching; where you have become a parent to thirty odd children, a confidante, a counsellor, a career adviser, a role model and most importantly, guardian of the green pens! Firstly, I just want to say a massive thank you to anyone who has begun or continued their contribution to the education sector in the current situation. In a profession that is hard enough in normal times, we have all been pushed to the limits with high expectations, sometimes with little thanks. So here is my own personal thank you to every single one of you, you are absolute rock stars!

Despite these challenging times, I am extremely thankful to be completing my NQT year at the moment, how much harder can it get? I am lucky enough that in my school we are given our own form in our NQT year and I must admit, those pupils have been the highlight of my year. I have a year 7 form and will have them until the end of year 11 and as noisy and cheeky as they can be, seeing them in the morning and afternoon, of each day, always brings a smile to my face, which is sometimes welcomed after a hard day (especially after the horrible year 9 class, you know what I mean, we all have one!). I know so much about those children, their pet’s names, what games they’re currently playing, how many siblings they have, what they want to achieve in life, their career aspirations… And it’s my goal to help them achieve whatever they dream to accomplish and become the best possible versions of themselves. If you are offered a chance to have a form in your NQT year, I strongly recommended taking up the opportunity as I truly believe it will help form you as a teacher and give you an insight into the pastoral side of education.

Unfortunately, as a trainee you aren’t given much guidance on what to expect from being a form tutor so here are some insights that I have learnt in the past eight months.

To start, there will always be something you need to do in form time; an assembly, an intervention, a competition to take part in, the list is endless. Trust your gut instinct, if you think they need some time to get homework completed, let them do that. If you have noticed sloppy uniforms recently, take the time to remind the children of the expectations in the school. No one will question you and what’s the worst that can happen? Receiving a polite email reminder to watch that assembly.

Secondly, take the time to celebrate the groups achievements, someone got lots of rewards points? Make the announcement in form get everyone to applaud! This sort of celebration helps motivate the students and can make it into a competition. The same goes for sanctions, don’t scold them in front of their peers but ask them what happened and to share the experience with the class so they can learn from each other and have a group discussion about how they should approach the situation in future to avoid getting in trouble. It’s all about communication and discussion, something that sometimes a lot of students don’t get the opportunity to participate in during normal classes.

Finally, you will need to be really organised to keep on track of each child’s different schedule. Jack and Jonny have drumming lessons period six on Mondays, they need reminding. “Hubert, remember, you have a reading intervention on Wednesday period 3.” “Everyone cooking spag bol tomorrow in DT, remember to bring in your ingredients!”. I strongly advise having a little calendar for your form where you can jot down any of these extra-curricular schedules and that the students can access, teaching them to take responsibility of their own schedule.

If you’re in your training year, go and observe different form groups to see how different people use the time, there is no right or wrong way, but you will be able to see a variety of ideas that you can use in your own practice when you come to having your own form. If you are already in your NQT year and don’t have a form, ask if you can be paired up with someone to observe and even help out! The extra pair of hands is always welcome!

My final piece of advice in general as a teacher is that your “to-do” list is never finished. There is always something that needs doing, and unfortunately there aren’t enough hours in the day to do them. Learn to prioritise your tasks to what are necessary immediately and what can hold off for a couple of days, there is no shame in not getting everything done straight away. I learnt this the hard way and would be still sending out emails or marking work at eight p.m, which isn’t effective. If you’re feeling overwhelmed speak to someone, in your training and NQT year you’re lucky enough to have a mentor, take full advantage of that! They are here to help and support you! A problem shared is a problem halved!

Please enjoy your training/NQT year as much as possible, ask as many questions as you want, try new ideas and techniques, watch as many teachers (and teaching assistants!) as you possibly can. You are entering truly the best profession and you will never forget the first time a pupil says “thanks miss, that’s helped” because you know you have made a difference to them, and that’s what this career is all about

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