1. NQT year is nothing like your training year
After finishing my training year, I was ready and unbelievably excited for my NQT year. I trained through a SCITT, thus spending the majority of my training year in one placement school. I absolutely loved it and did not want to leave, so I didn’t! Luckily a position had opened up in the school: I applied and got the job (yay!). I knew the school, the staff and the students. I was in a great position for the upcoming year as an NQT. It was not long before I realised that your NQT year is nothing like your training year. It was something that everyone had said to me, but I never fully appreciated it!
Everything had changed. As crazy as it sounds, I am the teacher in the classroom. I am the one who decides if a student can leave the classroom to go to the toilet. I am the one who is in charge of making sure the register is done and on time. I am the who has to respond to parents and colleagues and remember to make sure all behaviour codes for my tutor group are on SIMS every week.
The bottom line: I am the one in charge! I am ‘The Decisive Element’ (If you haven’t heard that phrase before, read it in full here - seriously, it’s worth it). The bottom line is, the buck stops with me. There isn’t anyone in the classroom you can go to, just to double check you are on the right track. It was this that I found the hardest.
Even though, for the last few months of my training year I was able to build up to teaching on my own, I still had my mentor right next door. During breaks, lunches and after school for everyday, continual support. Of course, even though my mentor this year is as equally as amazing as my mentor from last year, their roles are very different. This was the biggest change for me going from a trainee to NQT.
However, at the same time, I began to have the realisation that being in control was kind of awesome. If I didn’t like the seating arrangement, I can change it; If I wanted to change the displays, I could. It’s my classroom and I am ‘the decisive element’. It’s intimidating, terrifying in many ways, but unbelievably exciting at the same time. As a bonus, it also means you don’t have to worry about being observed every lesson!
2. Never forget why you wanted to be a teacher
I have always been a sort of perfectionist. I always want to get something right the first time and I absolutely hate making mistakes. It’s crazy considering the first thing I always tell my students is that making mistakes is okay and that it’s the best method of learning. This is one thing I have struggled to accept over the last six weeks.
It’s okay to make mistakes.
No one expects all of your lessons to be outstanding. It’s impossible.
No one expects you to get everything right the first time. It’s not going to happen. Things will go wrong and days will be hard. There will be lessons where you know they went horribly wrong. There will be days where you want to crawl under the duvet and never come out. But one thing you must never forget is: why you became a teacher in the first place. For me, it is knowing that every day, I have a chance to go into school and inspire the students I work with to became great learners and incredible people. That hopefully, I am helping them develop skills that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. It’s those lightbulb moments in class, the ‘oh now I understand’ comments, the ‘thank you Miss’ at the end of the lesson. It’s those moments that make teaching an amazing vocation for me.
Anika Popat is a new teacher in Milton Keynes.
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