Facebook and being a teacher… can it work?


I must admit I have an absolute love/hate relationship with Facebook. I hate how some people use it to show off ‘So in love with my new Range Rover, so much better to drive than my Audi’. Or to declare how loved up they are with their partner (even though you saw them arguing in the street last week), ‘OMG. Came home to a trail of rose petals leading upstairs to a champagne bubble bath. Best boyfriend ever. Love him!’ Or my ultimate worst Facebook user- the ‘private’ attention seeker, ‘Can’t believe what happened! What a shit thing to do to anyone. Well that’s it, if you think you can do that to me, well you’re wrong. This isn’t over.’ Que a comment from a concerned ‘friend’. ‘U ok, hun?’ Followed by, ‘Yeah, babe. I’m good. are you?’ (Eh?!) Or the worse reply, ‘I’ve unboxed you babe.’ Why post it on Facebook in the first place?!

That being said, Facebook does have some positives and it’s these positives that keep me on the social media. I’ve tried to deactivate my account on numerous occasions but I just can’t do it permanently. I love the way I can keep in touch with family overseas, how I always remember my friend’s birthdays; arranging nights out with my girlfriends is so much easier with a group event, and let’s all be honest, I do really love a good nosey into other people’s lives.

However, being a teacher and having a Facebook can be a dangerous thing. At uni, the university lecturers did a fantastic lecture on the dangers of social media, they started off by showing pictures of all the student’s profile pictures that were in the lecture theatre. There were girls holding blow up penises, guys dressed up in Borat style mankinis, girls in Ann Summers fancy dress showing bum cheeks. There were lots of humiliated faces in the audience, but after that lecture everyone changed their profile pictures and names and upped their privacy settings. I mean, no parent wants to see their children’s teacher spread eagled on an Ibiza bar, do they?

I find that teachers can use Facebook if they are careful. I find that I’m much more careful about how I use Facebook now that I’m a teacher. i can no longer join in with political debates on people’s statuses, no matter how much I agree or disagree. I am careful about posting pictures if I feel my outfit is quite short or showing too much cleavage. Any photos of me holding a drink are carefully edited and as for swearing- that’s an ultimate no, no. I don’t swear in real life so I didn’t think it would even be an issue, but according to Timehop I was quite an avid Facebook ‘swearer’ six to eight years ago. I actually cannot believe the things I used to post! A friend recently tagged me in a status and I nearly had a heart attack, ‘What a fucking epic weekend with my favourites!’ When you’re a teacher there’s always a slight uncomfortable feeling when you get a notification that someone has tagged you in a status or picture. Luckily, now I’m a new mum, I saw this status at around 6am in the morning and I was horrified. I tried to untag myself from the status but couldn’t do it on my phone and so I just had to send a message to my friend and explain that I just simply couldn’t have that sort of language on my page as I’m ‘friends’ with parents, colleagues and yes, even my deputy headmistress.

You might now be asking, but why are you friends with these people? The answer is. They find you. They always do. Don’t ask me how, these people should work for MI6. My privacy settings are on the highest they can be. I don’t use my real name, I don’t show my friends list, so people can’t see me through mutual friends; I don’t even have a very clear profile picture and i never ever send friend requests. I ‘culled’ over 300 ‘friends’ when I started my PGCE and I literally have the bare minimum of friends now, people who I actually know, people who I wouldn’t cross the street to avoid speaking to. But yet, about six month into my NQT year, a TA found me. I was shocked. I had a friend request from her and I couldn’t actually believe she had found me. I could have ignored the friends request, but I had a quick look through my settings and previous posts and thought, why not? That was it then. ‘X is now friends with X’ other people saw and then it snowballed and there’s now a little school fb clique (more on that later). When the Head added me, I thought 1. Can you actually be on FB as a Head? and 2. I can’t bloody ignore the Head, can I ?! So I accepted her. And to be honest, she’s hardly ever on, doesn’t post any inapproriate pictures or controversial statuses and is very safe (bland). As for parents, they are TAs who work in the school.

As I mentioned before, there is now a definite fb ‘clique’ with people from work, so much so that I’ve decided to stay ‘hidden’ from everyone in work. Stop liking anything, anyone puts on. It goes like this, people from work ‘like’ everything that the popular members of work post and people who aren’t very popular never get any likes at all. It’s all very childish and I can’t actually believe that office politics have now transcended into your home when you’re away from work too. A very popular member of the SLT leads the way, she will gush over baby pics, like statuses of her favourites, leave sickly sweet birthday messages to her work friends and ‘tag’ herself in with her ‘X primary school favourites’, other people follow and like everything she posts. There’s a TA at work who isn’t very good at her job, it’s no secret. Everyone asks not to have her every year, she has no behaviour management, she just doesn’t ‘get’ the children and the worse crime- she is quiet. Yet she has a very active social life outside of school. This summer she has travelled around Italy, climbed a mountain in some picturesque place and celebrated her wedding anniversary. She is ‘friends’ with everyone from school and not one single person has liked ANYTHING that she has posted. It makes me mad. Before I decided to stop posting I noticed the same thing slowly starting with me. When I was at work, I was getting likes galore, since maternity, slowly, slowly declining, until I decided to stop altogether. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am really, really not bothered. What I am bothered about though is that politics and office cliques are given at work, but you can leave them behind when you walk out the door, except now, these office politics continue in your own home when you’re out of work. So that’s why I chose not to get involved. I just don’t post anything now (but that doesn’t mean I’m not looking!).

To conclude, these are my top tips for making Facebook work as a teacher:

  • Never use your full name. Have a nick name or use just your first and middle name.
  • Never have any personal details on FB. People don’t even know I’m a teacher. NEVER put your place of work, this can be seen by everyone and could potentially be used against you.
  • Customise who can see your posts. Everyone from my work has been ‘blocked’ from seeing anything that I post. That means I can still upload pictures from my night out last weekend without any of my work colleagues seeing something that could be deemed inappropriate.
  • Don’t swear. Even if it’s a comment on another person’s post. My Head mistress used the word ‘prick’ in a status this month and I was shocked. Some people might not even class it as a swear word, but it’s just not appropriate, especially from someone in leadership.
  • Don’t talk bad about your job. That includes moaning about how it’s the end of the holidays and you’re back to work tomorrow. Would you like to see you child’s teacher moaning about starting back at work. That goes for discussing the children in your class.
  • Don’t post any pictures from school (ESPECIALLY OF THE CHILDREN), I have actually seen this! I go so far as to not even post pictures of my classroom or places on school trips.
  • Be careful what you ‘like’ on Facebook. I’ve seen teachers working at school’s in a predominantly Asian area like Britain First posts. The mind boggles.
  • Make sure you have to approve things before they are tagged on your timeline. Your ‘mad for it’ mate who works in the local gym and goes out every weekend might not see the harm in tagging you in a pic where you’re passed out on her sofa from too much vodka. Better still I’ve hidden posts on my timeline from work colleagues. After the swearing incident I can now rest easy.
  • Be careful where you tag yourself in. Tagging yourself in a bar on a Sunday night might not go down too well at the Monday morning briefing session.

Getting pregnant in your NQT year. The good and the bad.

My pregnancy wasn’t planned, but was very much wanted. I was a little bit embarrassed about getting pregnant in my NQT year, but because I got pregnant in the July, people weren’t made aware of the fact until the next academic year. Everything has pros and cons and here is my list of the good and bad reasons for getting pregnant so early on in your career.

The Bad

  • Your NQT year is a very stressful time, add in a new pregnancy and it can be a very over whelming experience.
  • Be prepared to be looked at differently. I felt that I wasn’t taken as seriously once I was further on in my pregnancy. I was taken off courses that I wanted to do and not invited to meetings that I felt I still should have attended.
  • You’ll be very tired, especially during the final stages. You’ll find it difficult to sleep at night and will come to work with an exhaustion that you didn’t feel possible.
  • You will be on the lowest pay scale which means that when your maternity becomes half pay, you will really feel the financial hit.
  • Having been at the school only a short time you will not be as established in the school and might feel like you’re starting from scratch again when you go back.

The Good

  • You’re on the low end of the pay scale. Even though I mentioned this in the bad points, I actually found it to be a good point. I was never actually down by that much money because I didn’t earn that much anyway. Some SLTs were loosing over a thousand pounds a month on maternity, which would be really hard to deal with.
  • You’re just starting out on your career so you can easily adapt to this new working life much easier than someone who’s been a teacher without children for say 10 years.
  • You have something more to focus on other than school. You can no longer spend every waking minute worrying about displays when you’ve got a baby to think about on the way.
  • You have to leave early. You will be exhausted by the end of the day and you will physically need to go home early. Plus, no one will say anything or look down on you for doing so.
  • You will get a lunch break, because a) you’ll be ravenous by lunch time and b) you will just need to sit down and rest your legs. I made sure I had nearly the full lunch time every. single. day. I thought, it’s the only time I’ll have an excuse to do this so I’m taking advantage.
  • Doctor/ hospital appointments. You will have quite a few mornings/ afternoons off which breaks the week up and gives you some much needed lie ins.

Pregnant woman at work writing in binder

I’ve been a bit quiet…. because I’ve had a baby!


So, it actually feels like a lifetime ago that I was caught up in the drama of being an NQT because, to use that over used cliche, ‘I’ve been on a journey’. I’ve had a baby. (Que lots of maternity related posts to come). I mentioned in a few posts about medical issues, appointments and they were referring to hospital appointments. I didn’t feel I could openly talk about being pregnant because it wasn’t planned and call me superstitious, but I just wanted to wait until baby was here and everything was ok. It’s been a ride, I can tell you.

I’m currently on maternity leave, going back after the October half term. I didm;t take the full year off because it didn’t make sense financially and having gotten pregnant in my NQT year, I felt a year was too long to take off.

I got pregnant last July. I was pregnant when I had that horrendous final lesson observation where I broke down in tears (I now blame baby hormones), although I didn’t actually find out I was pregnant until the beginning of August. I told my Headmistress on the first day of the new term in September, she was surprisingly calm and supportive.

Having a baby has made me think differently about my career options. I no longer see myself staying at my school. I would eventually like to jump ship to a nice little one form entry school closer to home. I no longer want to get to the top of my profession as the added stress and extra responsibility doesn’t appeal to me now. Family does. When I first left school I couldn’t switch off and kept thinking about the children, now if I’m honest with myself, I’m not even in a rush to get back.

This blog started in one direction and has now completely changed, but I’m happy and have realised that being an outstanding teacher is no longer my main priority.

How much does an NQT really earn?

Wage slip

When I was an NQT I searched high and low to try and find the exact (or a rough guide) as to how much money an NQT takes home each month after tax. It was near impossible. For many reasons really; money is still not openly talked about in Britain- you can’t just ask somebody how much money they earn each month. It really is different for everyone; depending on how much student loan you took out, did you pay for your own fees etc. And it also depends on your pension and national insurance contributions.

So, seeing as I am no longer an NQT and this blog is anonymous I am going to break down my entire NQT wage into what I got monthly. Also bear in mind that the pay scale has increased by 1% (how generous), so it will be ever so slightly, but not by much, higher for NQTs this year.

So here it is; What an NQT really earns and how much they take home each month:

Basic Pay:      £1,817

Sounds and looks good, right? Yeah, it doesn’t ever make it to your bank account.

Employee NIC:    £119.77

Tax:   £250

Pension:   £131.92

Student Loan:   £37

Total Deductions:   £538.69


Above is the take home pay that I received each month during my NQT year. Now, I know it’s not bad, but it’s not brilliant and considering the amount of hours I actually did, I was not even making minimum wage at some points during the year. However, there are a lot of people who never receive anything like that amount each month and the positive thing about teachers is (hopefully) we will all go up the pay scale each year. Yes, performance related pay now means that it is no longer a guarantee, but luckily so far I have not heard of any of my teacher friends or colleagues being held back. Remember, that if you do have student loan repayments they also increase each year. My loan repayments have now jumped up to £87. Ouch.

You can make the take home pay work. I managed to buy a house and go on holiday during my NQT year. Plus, I felt like a millionaire after having no wages for a whole year while I studied for my PGCE.

Starting the new year after a good lesson observation!

Jumping woman silhouette

It finally happened. After a dreadful, stressful NQT year. A failed final observation and the morale of a depressed goldfish, I finally got a ‘good’ lesson observation just before we broke up for the Christmas half term. And even now, it feels bloody great.

I think teacher’s morale, outlook on their job and general well being could be improved dramatically by just a few simple positive words of praise and encouragement. I do not understand why SLT members in school feel it is productive to belittle and constantly criticise other teachers in schools, then get confused when said teachers don’t suddenly pull out ‘outstanding’ lessons with the high energy and jazz hands of a West End Performer. Simple fact. You will get more out of teachers if we are shown a appreciation, praise and constructive criticism.

Anyway, back to my lesson observation. The school is way overdue an OFSTED visit. We were due one in April 2014, never happened. We were determined we would be visited in the summer term, like the school behind us. Never happened. ‘It will be in Autumn term’ subject leaders were saying. We thought it would be the third week in September. Never happened. In fact, the call never came at all last term, and at 1.30pm on the last Wednesday of the week we all breathed a sign of relief.

Mangement are feeling the pressure, as unannounced and without, the second to last week of term we were all told that we would be getting observed. Lesson observations were to take place for everyone in the school that week. Either the Headmistress or Deputy head would be observing us. I was nervous to say the least, especially as I still have my own personal stuff going on and had a hospital appointment straight before the observation. But the main reasons for my concern were; One, the headmistress had only ever seen me teach for 15mins during my lesson observation at my interview, two she knew all about my struggles last year and three, she is the person that deals with my appraisal/ performance related pay. I was more than nervous.

However, it went fantastic. It was a writing lesson, which is always difficult with younger children, but there was no major criticism; behaviour was in place, children used talk partners, there was role play to help them with their writing, work was differentiated and I effectively used my TA. To say I felt on cloud 9 was an understatement. I was elated, I felt the weight of my last observation lifting, in the space of 10minutes of feedback I felt my confidence in myself growing. I was happy. I had job satisfaction and even though I’m dreading the alarm going off at 6.30am on Monday, I am looking forward to going back to work. I want to go back. My confidence is returning and I no longer feel like I made a mistake becoming a teacher.

Wouldn’t it be nice if all teachers could just have 10mins a day being praised by their management? What a wonderful, yet unrealistic, thought.

Advice to my NQT self a year on.

helping hand icon

Hindsight really is a beautiful thing. Last year I wish I had the power to travel into the future to talk to my future self.

My future self would have given great advice to my stressed out NQT self.

1. Don’t come into school at 7.15am every morning. What’s the point? The work will always get done regardless and it just isn’t healthy staying in your work environment for up to 11 hrs a day.

2. The children are the main thing. Not having perfectly neat lesson plans or organised files. Make sure the children are learning in fun, engaging lessons. So what you didn’t differentiate 5 different sets of resources? They children can talk about what they have learnt and enjoyed their learning.

3. Don’t be a walk over. You can say no. Make sure you stand up for yourself and people know that you are not a walk over.

4. Don’t worry about lesson observations- you only get one observation a year and your mentor does not want you to fail. Unless you are absolutely diabolical, your mentor will do everything to make sure you pass. The time, effort and paper work for a failing NQT is too much stress ;)

5. Be nice. Talk to everyone. Talk to the cleaner and talk to the deputies. Talk to that TA who moans all the time and wears funny clothes- she’s actually best friends with the deputy and is more influential than you think.

6. Don’t ever give your real negative opinion. Let other people bitch in the staff room, but don’t get involved in office politics. You’re still not a permanent member of staff and the ‘likeability factor’ goes a long way.

7. Be positive. No one wants to be around mood suckers. Start your day smiling; the children will pick up on it and be better behaved and people will want to be around you. Plus, it will make yourself feel better. All you need is one positive thought to set your day up the right way.

8. Socialise. Make sure you go to any pub trips after work, no matter how tired you are. Get your face out there. Teaching is a hell of a lot harder if you haven’t got people to talk to at work. Go to the staff room at lunch, even if it’s just for 15mins, have that time away from your classroom to refresh and have an adult conversation. You will get the best ideas and advice sat in the staff room.

9. Treat yourself with your first pay packet. You won’t be able to do it for a long time after that. The feeling of your first pay packet will be amazing after earning nothing while you studied.

10. Develop a great relationship with your TA. TAs are loyal to the death if they support you, they will defend you and give you the heads up on what not to do and who to talk to, who not to talk to etc. They are a wealth of knowledge and can make your job so much easier if you get on well with them.

and most importantly. It. Does. Get. Better. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Honestly, you won’t always feel this stressed. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll feel stressed, but not as stressed as you’re feeling now. It gets easier. You get quicker at lesson planning, you’re behaviour management will improve. You’ll even tell people that you like your job.

No, seriously, you will.

Loosing a friend at work hits you hard when you’re a teacher.


I have lots of friends. I am lucky enough to still be in contact with the group of girls I went to high school with. I have uni friends, friends from my PGCE and lots of family members that I can call friends too. However, none of them ‘get me’ like my friends at my school. Even my other teacher friends at different schools will never truly understand what I am going through because they are not in my school.

Your work colleagues really are your guardian angels when you are a teacher. No one, and I really mean no one will ever understand/ comprehend/ agree or help you like your other teacher friends. The teachers and most of the other staff at my school are great- they really are the reason why people stay at such a challenging school and last year I was lucky enough to make a very close friend during my NQT year and then she decided to leave. Selfish.

Joking aside, it was absolutely fantastic to have such a close friend during such a stressful time as my NQT year. I had an ally, someone who always agreed with me, laughed with me, moaned with me, bitched with me and at times cried with me. We both started at the same time as NQTs and she really was the teacher that I trusted the most in school, the one that I could turn to, the one that was always up for a drink in the pub after work, the one that I would always sit with in the staff room. We were our own clique, people always said our names as a pair, we were the work couple.

She told me she was leaving during the Christmas holidays, so I always knew I would be on my own the following year, which was good, because I made a conscious, deliberate effort to get close to another teacher who had started around the same time as us and I would go to social events at work knowing I would need these people in a few months.

Because of the intense nature of the last month, bad lesson observations, terrible stress, utter exhaustion, it never sunk in when she was saying goodbye to everyone and we went for our ‘last summer’, however, it has hit me hard this new academic year. Sometimes I do have to sit on my own in the staff room while I wait for more people I know to enter, if I have a bad day I sometimes can’t find anyone who truly understands, when my pay wasn’t increased I had no one else to discuss the situation with and although I didn’t want to admit it, and still don’t, I miss her. I miss my teacher friend.

I have been incredibly lucky, though, the other girl who started around the same time as me last year has become my new replaced friend. She was my second closest friend this year, but has now become my number one. She is the only one I trust 100% in school and we meet up in each other’s classroom at the end of each day. I honestly can’t imagine what work would be like if I didn’t have a close friend.

Teaching is the one job where you need to have a close friend at work, it makes the stress just a little bit better and I’m thankful that I have one.