Thursday, 12 February 2015

Surviving the First Term of Being a Primary NQT

This picture basically sums me up 99% of the time since September.

Back in September 2014 I walked into my new classroom with a fully stocked pencil case, a packed lunch and a grin on my face looking like an absolute fool.  After 20 minutes I realised I wasn't even close to ready for this - a degree in Primary Education hadn't prepared me in the slightest, and I was out of my depth.  There were children climbing out of windows (thankfully not in my class), staff yelling orders at me and stacks of marking to battle through before morning break.

September sucked.

Thankfully, I found my feet pretty quickly and it soon started getting better.  Although I still do a lot of work at home, there are still days I feel like I'm banging my head against a wall and I eat way too many Minstrels, I am feeling more confident and secure than I was three months ago, and I definitely still love teaching.  I have picked up a few hints and tips along the way that I want to share with you.  If you're looking to start your NQT year, it's worth giving these a whirl from the beginning which might make September easier to survive.

  • KNOW your children - Build relationships with every single one of them because in the long run, it'll be life saving when it comes to assessment, target setting, behaviour management and report writing.
  • Mark during the lesson - it saves endless amounts of time, and it's more beneficial for the children to have real-time feedback
  • Don't waste time - most of the time it feels like we don't have enough hours in the day so whenever you get a spare few minutes, make the most of them! You'll thank yourself for it later.
  • Ask questions, take everything in and take every opportunity - you will be learning for the rest of your career, you can never expect to know everything so start utilising everything around you: experienced teachers, other staff in the school, training opportunities and any programs or documents the school has access to.
  • Take charge - from the beginning these children need to understand the behaviour expectations.  Thankfully I managed to use this one from the start, and I now have a class of children who aren't afraid to express themselves but understand my expectations
  • Know when to stop - you will never get to the end of your to-do list, there is always something else to do so make sure you're organised (I use lists) and you make sure you still have time to do things you enjoy.
  • Expect the unexpected - seven year olds NEVER do what you think they will.
  • Find a positive in every single day, no matter how bad - it will get better.
It is hard, but teaching is rewarding, enjoyable and worth all of the work when you see the light bulb switch on in a child's eyes , their confidence grows and they learn.

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