Tuesday, 3 September 2013

My advice to NQTs...

I became a teacher because I wanted to be one. Since the age of 16. I didn't really know what it would entail, but tutoring family and a bit of a push from my GCSE English exam set me going. I went on to college (ICT & Maths), university (Maths) and my PGCE. I got my first job without any competition because of a friend who called me and told me to submit something (anything) to a school the day or two before the interview due to lack of candidates. I got my second job because I the aforementioned school merged with another and I got my third without competition after an assistant head became a deputy at my third post.

I don't remember too much about my first post. I remember the staff more than anything. Friday football and banter before registration. I planned lessons and did no revision sessions and kept my breaks to myself.
I remember a lot about my second post. I became frustrated at the school and began to turn my attentions towards the kids is a much more focused way. I gave up frees to take the Year 13s, I spent my lunch times with kids and I started to do a bit more after school. I remember the first kid I got a C for... from set 7. At this point, my focus really was changing, but I don't think I realised it.

I'm currently at the beginning of the fourth year of my third post - my sixth in teaching overall. I'm not saying that this advice is for everyone, but it's how I feel that I'm getting the best out of myself and continue to...

Do everything for the kids. Plan your lessons - not because you have to, but because it makes a difference. Structure your lessons - because it gets kids into a settled routine and they know what to expect from you. Do revision sessions - not because some people won't, but because you can easily affect 5 kids in a massive way by giving them an hour of your time per week. Speak to kids about everything - ask them about what they did at the weekend, recent films, songs, bands, their pets, their hobbies, holidays, where they live. Let kids know who you are - tell them your age, your girlfriend's name, your fears, your likes, about your most recent round of golf, about your experiences as a child - the good and the bad. Take a sports team - celebrate a win, but pick them up when they lose and have their back when there's a teacher bad mouthing them.

Do everything for yourself. Plan your lessons - not because it makes a difference to the kids, but because it makes your lessons better. Structure your lessons - not for the kids' routine, but to keep a routine for you and give yourself that practise in delivery. Do revision sessions - to improve the way that you deliver subject matter and expand your toolkit. Speak to kids about everything - because they hang on your every word and find even the most mundane rubbish mindblowing. Let the kids know who you are - it's nice to be asked how your golf's going. Take a sports team - kids have bundles of energy and putting your boots on and mixing it up is a great workout!

Have high expectations. Of the kids - the kids will respond to high expectations, whether it takes one day or five years. If you keep on at them saying 'You're better than that!' they'll start believing it.
Of yourself - being at school at 7am is not just for OfSTED. It's a choice I make to get myself ready for the day. It's a choice I make so that my lessons are planned. I did little different when OfSTED came to see us, because I go by the same routine and plan my lessons to the same standard. I believe that it's good enough and if OfSTED don't agree, then I don't care.

Go out of your way to do more. Not because you want a promotion, but because the kids would benefit from it. The Young Leaders Initiative wasn't considered because I wanted a pay rise, but because I believe the skills that they'll learn and the outcomes for the department are a fantastic use of my time and expertise. Help out at shows - I know you're not part of the PA department, but the kids involved will remember everything that you do for them.

Don't get involved in the staff room cliques. They'll wear you down and those life-sucking, negative Nicks will have you cursing your Friday P5 class every Friday lunch. I find that eating with kids stops this and I go in to lessons relaxed and ready to get going thinking '1 MORE HOUR!', not disheartened and thinking '1 more hour.........'.

I'm sure that when I started writing this there was a purpose. I'm sure that I've lost this and I'm now waffling. I'll end with a comment I gave in an internal interview last year: "I came from a school where I was unhappy and going through the motions and came to a school where I didn't know what to expect. What I got when I arrived was a bunch of kids crying out for that bit extra and what I could do was give them it. I give my all for these kids and they know it. Not only do they know it, but they respect it, and the way they respond to me shows it."

I'm sure you'll find your own way. But remember, it's YOUR way and not your colleague's way and not your SLT's way. What works for you, works for you, and if it works for you and it works for your students, you're onto a winner.

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