A happy end to a stressful week.

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It’s weekend- I’ve had 10hrs sleep and I’ve woken up feeling refreshed! I am also pleased to say that I m back loving my job and really enjoyed the second part of the week. ‘Diary-gate’ was solved because luckily, some kind soul, had written in the school trip for me (thank you, thank you, thank you), so it turned out it was the headmistress who had not done her research, but she was really nice about it and said I’ve done really well with the organisation so far. Now I just need to get the children there and back safely!

Second, I had my first parent’s evening, which was a success. All the parents were lovely, there were a couple who I need to follow up things with (not getting on with others in class, referrals for speech therapy), but over all I really enjoyed it. 

I’ve realised this week that teaching is a roller-coaster of a job. On Monday, I was down, really down. I was looking for other jobs, I didn’t think I would be able to do this after this NQT year- more worryingly- I didn’t think I would want to. I came home tired, feeling depressed and wondering how I could have made such a bad mistake regarding this new career.

Fast forward 3 days, 3 days, and I’m back loving everything about my job. My TA was back and that was a fantastic help, the lessons I taught all went to plan and the children loved them, It was Friday before I knew it, the Headmistress was no longer annoyed with me and I realised that I get on well with all of the staff- I have never felt so comfortable in a staff room before.

So I do want to stay at this school, I do want to be an outstanding teacher and I do still remember why I got into this profession. 

And next week is the last week before half term! What is there not to smile about?! 🙂

My first Big mistake….

I’ve made my first big mistake. and I feel terrible. Stupid, under qualified and a little more stupid.

My Year 2 class have not had a trip for two years (now I understand why). So, bright, energetic NQT that I am decides that going to organise a trip. The Head teacher was quite enthusiastic and said if I was hiring a coach I may as well take them out of the area. So we are going to Cheshire to a Zoo. This fits in perfectly with our Habitat theme and luckily the school is subsidising a large chunk of the trip, so it’s worked out really cheap.

We are going next Thursday, so just over a week’s time. The other Year 2 teacher who is coming wasn’t so fussed about the trip and hasn’t shown the slightest bit of enthusiasm, it has only been my TA claire, who has said ‘well done.’ She told me she was so pleased that someone had organised a trip because the children need it, seeing as they are not the type to experience things with thier parents outside of school. 

So, let;s cut a long story short. I am an NQT and was really trying my best to organise 60 children to a cheshire Zoo and find 12 additional adults too. I menioned it to the Head and she was fine, we discussed dates together and we also discussed the price of the whole trip. She also gave me a school trip pack and talked me through risk assessment etc. 

Today, just by luck I mentioned about the trip next Thursday. ‘Next Thursday?’ one teacher looked at me strange. ‘The TAs are on an all day first aid course tomorrow.’

Yep, so the TAs are on an all day course next Thursday. When i approached the Headmistress, she said ‘I don’t even know the date for this school trip to the zoo. Why wash;t it put in the diary?”                                                                                                                           ‘THERE’S A DIARY?!”

So the other year 2 teacher, headmistress, Phase leader for Key Stage 1- everyone knew the date of the trip, everyone knew I was planning it and NO ONE mentioned that there was a diary?! I can;t believe how stupid i’ve been. The coach has been paid for but this course has been booked for weeks and now I have to see what the Headmistress says tomorrow. I’m not looking forward to that at all.

Then there’s the two week notice of telling the kitchen that you need 60 sandwiches for that day! Honestly, I can see now why the poor things haven’t had a trip for two years- it’s more hassle then it’s worth.

So my damage control tomorrow is this:

  • Take all my risk assessments/ time table of the trip into the Head’s office. (Deputy already said the TA training course can just be postponed- it’s not a major problem).
  • Order the packed lunches first thing tomorrow and grovel, grovel, grovel to the kitchen staff about the 7 day notice.
  • And lastly, make sure the trip is a resounding success! Take lots of pictures to put in the weekly newsletter and make sure the Headmistress can eventually praise my organisation skills.

I tell you, I’ll be glad when next Thursday is over and the trip is done and dusted and i’m just glad this has happened in the first term- as it gives time for it to be forgotten!

Now, let’s get prepared for my first Parent’s evening tomorrow…….

Teaching Tantrums without a TA

So my TA starts work at 8am. I saw the other class TA at the photocopier and thought how Claire will be in soon. At 8.10am I was thinking that she was late. But I carried on sticking in my WALTS for maths. Looking at the other WALTS i needed to stick in for literacy and Geography, I thought ‘Oh Claire can stick these in when I’m doing my input.’

Then my phone beeped. It was Claire. She had been throwing up all morning. She wasn’t coming in. ‘It’ll be fine’ I thought. It’s not like she’s a real hands on TA. She doesn’t always stick sheets in books, she doesn’t mark the books group that she works with and she isn’t very pro active- she always seems busy doing ‘other things’ and that’s probley because she’s old enough to be my mum and i still don’t feel confident telling an older adult to stick in banana worksheets.

Anyway. Let’s cut a long story short. Today was the most stressful day of my life. It was awful. At 3.15pm I actually googled (on my phone) alternative career prospects with a teaching qualification. I even job hunted  –  there’s an education job going at the BBC in the CBeebies department, if anyone’s interested. I just thought, I cannot do this for another year. 

The problem is that in a 21st century classroom, teachers need a Teaching Assistant. Yes, there have been research that shows that children’s learning has actually decreased since the introduction of TAs. But really, has children’s learning lowered? Or have the statistics changed? Before TAs there were classrooms of 17, there were no EAL students and SEN children went to specialised schools. Maybe, it’s no body’s fault that learning is lowering, it’s just the expectations are higher than they’ve ever been.

I realised today that TAs are not just for doing displays and sticking in. They are an extra pair of much needed hands. I realised today that Claire is always busy. When she is busy with other things- she is busy with other things. Listening to children read (couldn’t get done today), collecting trip money and updating the collection sheet (couldn’t get done today), taking a phonics group (couldn’t get done today) and settling the children down as soon as I need them to be quiet (didn’t get done today).

It was like the children could sense my weakness today. They were louder, more fussier, no one got any decent input in maths because I was constantly flitting between one group or another. At least with another person, they can explain things to smaller groups on the carpet and float too.

All in all, I now have a deeper and absolutely, totally appreciative view towards Susan and I cannot wait until she is back. I hope she gets well very soon!

Well the stress has arrived.

Image, Well, i’ve been absolutely rushed off my feet and haven’t even had time to breathe let alone write anything on here. PGCE people- you’ll just be starting your first placement- enjoy it! It really is the easiest it’ll ever be (but not the most enjoyable, you’ll be pleased to hear).

Before I started, everyone told me that the ‘to do’ list will never be done and if I just accept that it’ll be fine. How true were those words. I think teaching is the only job where you start with 6 things on your to do list and end up with 23. There is never a free evening, there is never not anything to do, but as long as you realise this and know that it’s ok, you’ll be fine.

Well, it started about two weeks ago. I felt fine, yes, I did feel like i was drowning, but not that I was stressed. i don’t do stressed, I even told the head that during my interview. ‘i’m really lucky, i don’t get stressed.’ might not get stressed, but my body does. It started really subtlely, my elbows were a little itchy, then weirdly my legs and my neck. i didn’t think anything of it until one morning I noticed that I had horrible, ugly red patches all over my legs, thighs, elbows, arms, and neck! The itching was getting so bad that I was scratching until the patches began to weep (I know, too much information). After a trip to the doctors and an expensive dermatologist- it turns out that i have developed stress related eczema! Great! Never have I had eczema in my life, never have i had to think about covering my legs or arms before- it’s just horrible. Thank God it’s winter and i’m wearing trousers and jumpers anyway, and thankfully the patches are going on my arms and neck (legs getting better, but still couldn’t go out in bare legs on a night out yet ). But it’s just really strange how the body reacts to stress, whether it’s conscious or sub conscious.

My dermatologist said that the cure will be yoga or meditation- as if I have time to sit in a dark room and do nothing for an hour?! (I have done yoga for years when I had a life before teaching- but at the mo, I really don’t have time. I know I should make time).

I think the trigger for my stress was the feedback from my first lesson observation- realising that I had to change how I had been doing things, we had a book scrutinity- 20mins notice- and I (along with the other NQT and phase teacher) had a stern talking to about how we hadn’t differentiated in History, PE, Geography etc. I know I should differentiate in every lesson, but when you’re class are all low or I’m doing a creative lesson- I haven’t got the time/ support to have children doing four sets of work in one lesson. Plus, when I started the school said that for those topics the children should be in mixed ability groups- so how can you work with a group of children when they are all doing different work? i don’t know- but I sure as hell better learn!

So, I’ve decided I’m not going to be a ‘stressy’ teacher. I’m going to:

1. Go to bed early- and switch off 30mins before hand. Watch crap TV/ read a book/ magazine.

2. Get organised. Know exactly what each group of children are going to be doing in the lessons beforehand. So I can just give the worksheets/ learning objectives to the TA to stick in.

3. Get my bag/ clothes ready the night before. It really is a stress in the morning when I don’t know what to wear, the time to leave the house is on countdown and I’m making lunch and looking for that story book to take into class.

4. Stay late (as in 5.30-6ish) one evening a week to get on top of marking so that’s off my mind.

5. Have things to look forward to outside of work. I’m having lunch with friends this Sat, then date night with the other half next week and SLEEP during half term!

I know, us NQTs can get through this year. I spoke to the other students from my PGCE and 4 said they want to quit and become TAs or something and that they have been bursting into tears at home.

Well, at least I don’t feel like that, and I still genuinely love going into school each morning 🙂 

First official lesson observation…. not too pleased with the results.

So I had my first lesson observation and feedback today and although it’s only week 4 of full teaching, I was a little disheartened. Out of 10 areas I got 4 ‘Goods’ and 6 ‘Room for improvement.’ The first thing my mentor said was not to worry about the Room for improvement column as he had observed me under the new OFSTED guidelines, which I know are a lot tougher, and that lots of the teachers were in that column at the moment, but still, I couldn’t help feeling a little upset/ worried/ scared/ stressed.

The main thing is that I was given fantastic feedback- all the things I need to improve on are achievable and things that I hadn’t even thought of (or worse- had thought of, but hadn’t got around to doing- loops!). So next time I know exactly what to do to improve. The main ‘biggie’ was the fact that everyone was doing the same work. It was a practical activity- and I am kicking myself that I didn’t even adapt the exercise even slightly- seeing as I used the word DIFFERENTIATION a thousand times a day on my PGCE course. If that’s one tip I can give you ALWAYS make sure you differentiate. I told my mentor that the practical activity was a form of assessment, which is was, which is why I had them all doing the same and he agreed with my thinking and said that he could now see why I had chose to do it in my lesson, but I know next time, differentiation will be the first thing that he is looking for.

So let’s get the bad things out of the way first:

  • I didn’t differentiate the practical activities . (ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS differentiate)
  • The noise levels at the practical activities was quite loud (a noise-o-meter will now be used).
  • There wasn’t much assessment during the lesson (White board work will now be done on the carpet. “Write the answer on your white board. Hold it up. Let me see.”)
  • The pupils didn’t achieve the objective. Higher ability too easy, lower ability too hard

That was the gist of the negatives. Now the positive:

  • Good behaviour management in the classroom- children listen to me and know what is expected of them.
  • Lovely atmosphere in the classroom. Great vibes, children enjoy learning and my passion for teaching really comes across.
  • Good time management in lessons.
  • Good relationship and use of of other adults in the classroom.

So now I just need to remember all the improvements for my next observation…. The joy!