Advice to my NQT self a year on.

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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.

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

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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.

Finally…I’m back.

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I am back- I have soooooooooooo many posts to post, so much has happened, but I will take my time in updating you. The reason I have been away is that I have had some developments/ news in my personal life that has changed things quite dramatically (I will post about it in detail at a later date).

But to give you all a quick update here goes:

  • After three months (and two pay packets) my school have agreed to my pay rise M2 (hardly the lottery, but very much needed/ appreciated). The only good thing about not being given a pay rise straight away is that in January, when everyone is always skint, I will get my pay back dated. This is great because I haven’t had a chance to save anything at all since starting back in September. I had spoke to the headmistress in the holidays and she said I would automatically go up as I had passed my NQT year, but as it was going onto the third month on the same pay, I was getting worried, but luckily I got it all written in a formal agreement this week, which was great.
  • We still haven’t had OFSTED, they were due in April, which means that they are highly likely to be visiting school before Christmas.
  • I have completely relaxed this year, I regularly get into school at 8am- 8am?! I used to break out in cold sweats if I wasn’t at my desk before 7.20am.
  • I have had my first lesson observation (after my disastrous final observation), it was attended by the Deputy, my mentor and a subject leader and…. it was good! Great feedback and I am no longer on the forefront of everyone’s mind as a ’cause for concern.’

Anyway, a lot has changed in school. I am more confident in my abilities this year, I know what does and doesn’t need stressing over and I love my school. There are still issues with the TA I had a run in with last year and some of her clique, but as they are TAs it doesn’t seem to bother me as it would do if they were teachers. Thankfully the teachers are all fab and professional. I am still getting on with the headmistress, I am no longer scared of her and actually have ‘normal’ conversations with her about ‘normal’ stuff.

Overall, not a bad start to the new school year, luckily.