My first twinge at missing my old job.

Now I really don’t regret leaving my my old job. I would never, ever return to my NQT post for love nor money. I struggled, but I didn’t hate it. It just wasn’t the place for me. There were too many cliques, I never felt good enough, every lesson observation was ‘just not there yet…’, the work load was unbearable, the hour commute even more so. There was constant changes to marking policies, book scrutinies, unachievable appraisal targets, constant pressure and humongous stress. I didn’t sleep at night properly, I could never relax- always feeling guilt that I should be lesson planning, marking, in putting data etc. Plus, I had the constant challenges of working in a deprived area of Yorkshire with a 92% EAL intake. I felt like I was constantly treading water, using all of my energy just to keep myself my drowning. There was no way that I could have continued like that. At times I felt like I was loosing my sanity.

Fast forward to now: A class of 5 children, an earlier finish time, an exact seven minute drive from my house, lovely colleagues who don’t know the meaning of the word clique, an unnaturally supportive Head, a higher paying salary, more creative control, no traditional assessments, time to do planning each day and genuinely a much more rewarding job.

However, today my old colleagues were told which year group/ class that everyone would be having from September and it was all over Facebook (I still have a love/ hate relationship with the thing). For the first time since I left I felt like I was being excluded from this really cool club. Everyone was commenting on each other’s statuses, saying how excited they were for next year, how they couldn’t wait for September and how ‘amazing’ it was going to be. I realised that I have truly and once and for all left the place where I did my NQT and RQT years and that I was no longer part of ‘The Family’. And I must admit, I felt a little bit sad. I no longer had a right to comment, I didn’t know what the little in jokes were that people were mentioning and if I’m honest, I don’t really know my old colleagues anymore and they don’t know me.

But after a guilt free cup of tea while watching telly, a nice after work stroll with my baby, then playing with him in the garden, plus only writing 6 reports- I realised that yes, I did feel a little twinge of sadness that I was no longer at my old job and that it’s ok, because I did have some good times there. But ‘some good times’ can never compare to my job now, where I have a lot of good times in my school life and many more good times in my home life. Plus my sanity.

I am no longer tread walking. I was doing a nice leisurely breast stroke and it feels so, so good.

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I’ve realised…. that I’m happy

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I’m going into week 4 of this Spring2 term, which means there’s only 3 weeks left until the (TWO WEEKS) Easter half term. Spring 1 was a difficult term for me, I don’t know why, but I was down, feeling dissatisfied with teaching and moral was very low at my work. Fast forward a month, and I don’t how or even when it happened, but one day I finished work and I was laughing- at goodness knows what- and I realised ‘I’m happy.’ I’m at work and I am actually happy. There is nothing to complain about, I don’t feel like I am drowning, the children even seem happy- and so am I! It feels amazing.

It goes to show that positivity breeds positivity. Before the start of the term, I kept telling everyone that i was excited for this term and really looking forward to it because we had a lot of fun stuff planned- World Book Day, Sports Relief, two school trips etc., and before I knew it, I really was looking forward to the weeks ahead. And this positive attitude rubbed off on the children- they became excited too.

I stopped moaning. I decided that when people said ‘alright?’ I would give them a huge smile and say ‘yes, are you?” Instead of my usual, ‘yeah, I’m so tried’ yawn. It really does make a difference.

So, we’ll see how long it lasts, but I’ve decided to stop moaning. Yes, we all know the negatives about being a teacher, we hear them every bloody time we switch the news on and there’s some teacher bashing headline. But I’m going to list my positives just to help me remember why I decided to go down this path just over a year again:

  • No two hrs are the same, let alone no two days! Where else can you work where you have not got a clue how the hour is going to go? We could be stuck at a desk typing in the same data for the same people, that we did the same time, in the same place at the same time last year.
  • The day zooms by. It really does, I am constantly looking at the clock thinking ‘go slower, go slower! I’ve not done my plenary yet!.’
  • Work colleagues really are some of the closest work colleagues that you can get. No one will understand you like them. And I am grateful for all the ace people that I work with in my school.
  • The pay isn’t that bad really, unlike a receptionist, there is pay progression- we will not be on the same NQT wage in 5 years time. You can actually see where you want to go.
  • The children- we are so lucky to get to work with little people all day and nurture them into future little human beings.
  • Paper work aside- the job is fun. I am a daily actor for the 10mins I read a Jacqueline Wilson books each day, I get to dress up, paint, make displays and sing songs each day.
  • The holidays! Yes, I do work, but I still get to have lie ins, rest and go shopping during the day when the rest of my friends are working in their 9-5s.

And honestly, I could go on. So for now, I’m going to pour a glass of wine and relax watching The voice. Knowing that I will go to bed tonight, looking forward to getting up for work tomorrow. What’s not to be happy about? 🙂

How to cope with the NQT stress.

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Being an NQT is stressful. There is no doubt about it. No matter how organised you are, how ‘good’ at being a teacher you are or how calm you can be; being a newly qualified teacher is tough. 

I’ve said it before, i’m not a stressful person, before this course I didn’t get stressed. During my PGCE year, I loved it, I didn’t get stressed at all. While others around me flapped and moaned, I was skipping to the next lecture. I had a life, I didn’t stay up past 10pm, I got my full 8 hrs of sleep a night and I think, because of all these reasons, it hit me hard when I realised that this year was stressing me out. 

I have had sleepless nights, a stress rash on my face and exhaustion so bad I thought I may not last the day. But slowly and surely I am ridding myself of stress and I am successfully learning how to deal with things. It’s been a while since I felt ‘stressed’ and I am slowly feeling like my old self. Here are a few of my tips, they’re not perfect, won’t be right for everyone, but somehow they are working for me.

Have a cut off: Some people I know stay in work until 6pm, go home, have dinner and then continue to work until 11pm. This is just not healthy. You must, must, must have a cut off point. I have heard of people working until 1am in the morning. WHY?! You need to be strict with yourself.  I don’t like to work past 9pm, but that doesn’t mean I’m working non stop when i get home from work. I might do an hour at the most. But that is because after an hr, I wouldn’t get any quality work done. Know when to cut off and stick to it, no matter what.

Go to the gym: I used to go to the gym four times a week before I started working at school in September. Then as the workload increased and the nights got darker I stopped going. During December, I started back again. I realised that not only am i keeping fit, it is a great stress reliever as for an hr I think about nothing but finishing my spin class or running to the latest pop song. It really is a time to empty my mind.

Book a holiday: Last Sunday it was raining, cold and the whole of 2014 loomed before me with nothing to look forward to. On a whim, i literally booked a holiday for the last day of term in July. Just like that I was excited and had something to aim for. I can see the end of the school year and I am already picturing myself on the hot beach soaking up the sun. Everyone needs something to look forward to and I think it should be made law that every teacher has to have at least one beacj holiday a year.

Do something at the weekends: I have had weekends where i have caught up on work, made all my resources and finished all my marking, but when you come back to school on Monday, you just feel like crap. ‘Did you have a nice weekend?’ Well, actually, no, because all I did was work. I have also noticed that if i have something planned for the weekend, I get my work done faster. This weekend I went out for dinner and drinks with friends on Friday and Saturday night, which meant that I managed to get my planning done Saturday afternoon- normally I wouldn’t. But I knew that I wouldn’t be able to relax if I didn’t and this gave me the push to get it done.

Spend time with family: I love spending time with family because they don’t care about my job. They don’t ask me about my pupil’s progress and they don’t want to discuss targets. They also help me relax as they cheer me up and allow me to be me.

Spend time with work colleagues: On the other hand, it is great to socialise with the staff at your school. The reason I get out of bed and feel happy to go to work each morning is because of the great relationships I have with the staff. No one will ‘get’ you like your work colleagues, even other teacher friends at other schools will never understand how annoying John Baker from 2T can be after pe on a Monday.

Treat yourself: We work hard and we don’t get paid enough in my opinion, so it is only right that we treat ourselves. Each month I am putting money away to treat myself to a Mulberry handbag at the end of the year. Another thing to look forward  too 😉 

Plan nice things: Have nice things planned so that it breaks up the academic year and makes those long terms seem that little bit shorter. A coffee with a friend, a cinema date, a chat on the phone to your best friend.

And remember we are NQTs, thousands wish that they were too. We really are the lucky ones.