It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

The presents are wrapped, turkey purchased and mince pies made. That means not only that Christmas is almost here, but also that I have survived my first term as an NQT! It’s been a bumpy ride at times but I’m still smiling and have a fantastic report from the head, along with a permanent contract that commences on my return in January.

Looking back to those first few weeks I can see already how much I have developed. My confidence in what I do, my class room and behaviour management, my ability to predict and support the children’s learning, emotional and social needs… And man are there plenty of those in my class! On the whole I dare just about whisper that, actually, it’s perhaps not been as stressful as I had expected. Shhh! Those long, sorrowful nights that occurred far too often during my final placement year have not been repeated and as I have got into the swing of things further and further, planning and thinking on my feet has become increasingly instinctive. I have felt on top of things, in control, and my day-to-day preparation and worries have certainly minimized. Also, quite importantly,  I have managed to fight off all of the germs and bugs before they have taken hold! The emotional and behavioural circumstances of the children that I work with, however, are far more challenging than I could ever have imagined and it almost seems as nothing would surprise me now.

I suspect the next term shall be a long, cold, dark and miserable one, without the excitement of Christmas festivities to brighten the dull days. However, I also feel much more established within the school now, with both my class and the other staff in the school. Seeing the children make progress makes all of the hard work worth it! Just before the Easter holidays our year group and the one below shall be putting on an end of term performance. With 140 children I suspect the stress levels may rise around then!

For now, however, it is time for a well earned break! The new displays are up and I spent the first day of the holidays tying up loose ends from last term and preparing for the next. Now it is time to select my clothes from the non-teacher section of the wardrobe, catch up with family and friends, sit around and watch telly and eat so, so much that I have to be rolled back into my classroom on January 6th!

Merry Christmas!

Half a term in

Good intentions and all that.. It’s true to say that I’ve been so busy getting to grips with my class, the teaching world and my first term as an NQT that I pretty much forgot I had this blog. Anyway, my experience so far in one(ish) word? Roller-coaster!

I have a very challenging class that are, on the whole, great! If exceptionally needy and exhausting. Already I can’t believe I’ve only been with the for now about 8 weeks! I get along really well with the other two teachers and, although there really are pros and cons to our year group team system, that’s generally going really well too. My first observation is out of the way and went fantastically well, as did my first parents evening and, touch wood, so far I’m keeping up to date quite nicely with all of the marking!

Yes, there are days that I’m fed up and feel like I’m drowning in to do lists and yes there are days when I feel so exhausted I could cry because of one particular child but, so far, I’m surviving! I’m still smiling and even more importantly, I’m enjoying it! I’m gradually getting quicker with marking, assessment and planning and rather unexpectedly feel much on top of things than I did during my final placements. This week I even had a work experience guy in observing me! Oh how things have changed in the space of 12 months…

There’s a long, dark, damp run up to Christmas to go yet and another two terms ahead, but so far this is one happy little NQT!

Transition day

Having dreamed of becoming a teacher for as long as I can remember, thoughts of that first day at school, meeting my class and getting to know one another, have been in my mind for many years. However, these dreamy, creative and heartwarming thoughts soon turned to panic, nerves and an underlying feeling of reality hitting when I heard I was invited to the transition day at my new school to meet my class!

During the lead up to the day there were a number of worries fluttering around my mind, including; What if the children don’t like me? What if they say bad things to their parents? What if the staff don’t like me? What if the other teachers think I’m just a clueless, naive new teacher who is going to be difficult to work alongside? What if the school think they’ve made a mistake taking me on?! Yes, okay, sometimes my mind does get carried away with me and some may say I worry a little too much…

And so it was that last Thursday I nervously made my way to the school office of my September school and took the next very big step along this winding journey. It was a full day of learning new faces and my way around the school, with plenty of opportunities to meet the teachers and children I shall be working with from September, but far too many names and faces to remember! It was great to meet the two other teachers I shall be working alongside in year 4 and the TA’s based there too; so reassuring to know I shall be working with supportive and friendly staff. I spent the day working it what shall be my classroom from September, which gave me a good chance to see what space I have to work with. My class seem like a great mix and I’m already looking forward to getting to know them all better!

When I finally got home and crashed onto the settee my mind was thumping with an overload of information to process from the day. In one sense the day had reassured me in a much needed way and provided me with information I need for the summer and September. On the other hand, I still have countless questions and wonders dancing around my mind. What’s more, the day, making the reality of everything clear, made me question just how prepared I am for the actual teaching side. Behaviour management and classroom organisation are two strengths I have continued to develop since my placements through supply work and my general organisation loving nature. Lesson planning and progression, identifying and meeting children’s needs, however, are areas I have had limited experience with since finishing my placement before Christmas. That’s not to sat that I can’t do them! More, I guess, that I need to force myself to accept that I may not be as good, in depth or quick at these aspects initially. But hopefully, I shall get there. There shall be so much to learn and take on board, countless mistakes waiting to be made and learnt from no doubt. But hopefully, I shall make it through with a great team and family to support me along the way.

National Supply Teacher Week Interview

In support of National Supply Teacher Week, The SupplyTeacher.com and my new twitter friend @NuttySupplier at SupplyBag.co.uk I was interviewed about my supply experiences as an NQT about a month ago. Loved doing the interview to help them out and reflect upon my experiences so far. Plus, a delightful little thank you goodie bag arrived in the post before school this morning! Spread the word and have a peek!

My interview for the National Supply Teacher Week

From student to teacher

At 22 years of age I certainly do not feel old enough to be attending secondary school reunions. I guess I had always imagined them to be just like we have all seen in the many American films; the ugly loner is now a gorgeous model and everyone is competing to show that they are the happiest and have had the most successful life, hiding any element of weakness or negativity. However, I never expected to attend one. Most certainly not with my Mother, less than a decade after I left! Yet, on Friday evening I walked into the old school hall of my secondary school along with my Mum, Auntie and brother and did just that. Continue reading

Bringing R.E. to life through puppets

Personally, I consider R.E lessons a great opportunity for exploring new ideas and can be very interesting. No child is too young to ask a question or share an opinion that leads to all sorts of healthy class debates and wonders. Equally, thinking back to some of the R.E. lessons I had as a child, there is a risk that they can be quite boring. 

Recently on supply, just after the Easter holidays, I was left with one copy of a Children’s Bible and the task of teaching a class of year 1/2 children about the story of the Pentecost for the afternoon. Neither the children or myself were familiar with the story, they appeared quite restless and were far from enthusiastic about an afternoon of R.E. with a strange teacher. Time to think outside of the box…

Gathered on the carpet, I read the story to the children stopping every now and again to check for their understanding, also asking various individuals to recap the order of events. Following a discussion about the story we looked at some online images portraying the Pentecost and talked about how different artists had represented the story in different ways  and what the different elements in the paintings might represent. Then, I put the children into groups and they each selected a character or two from the story. They created a puppet for their character/characters from card and stuck them on a stick (having discussed what type of clothes they would be wearing- no skinny jeans and ugg boots etc! When I asked why not? “Because they wouldn’t have been in fashion then!”). Finally, in their groups the children recreated the story of the Pentecost as a puppet show. It was great to see how many of them remembered the key events and even some key phrases from the version I had read to them. I even took photos of each group’s puppet show for their teacher to see the next day (would love to have videoed but couldn’t find any equipment in the school at short notice).

The children really seemed to enjoy the whole afternoon, asking lots of questions and getting very excited over their puppet shows. They were engaged through art, design , speaking and listening and R.E. all at the same time! A great way of making R.E. cross-curricular and bringing the story to life for the children.

Image 

 

Countdown

Well, this is it… Four days until my final hand in. Six days until Teacher’s Ball. A week until we move house, leaving Nottingham for good! I’d say life is a little hectic this week but in honesty, when is it not?! My final assignment is written with just those last final tweaks needed- when I can find the motivation to do them- and my heads gradually turning more and more to September.

I am one of those people who likes to be prepared. Not a total control freak [although depending who you ask..], but I like to know that I have to done as much as possible to prepare myself for whatever is coming my way. Beginning my first teaching job in September is certainly one of those things! Since hearing the big fat YES I have been overwhelmed by a growing mixture of nerves and excitement, in a greater way than ever before, and it’s still only May with 115 days till I start!

Gradually, I am beginning to compile a to-do list. Each time I think it might be almost done I remember another three things I’ve missed. I suppose I’d half expected to Google or search on TES resources and find someone else’s I could download and use but, not so lucky. Every school is obviously so different and everyone’s experiences unique. I keep telling myself I shall have a better idea once the school have given me some information but as of yet there has been no mention of when this shall be. Each day of supply teaching I have done has been a massive help! By far the best thing I could have done to develop my behaviour management and teaching strategies and a good confidence boost too as I’ve had lots of praise along the way. But my favourite part about it is getting a glimpse inside so many different schools and classrooms across the city and seeing how they do things. This has given me so many ideas of how to [or occasionally not to] plan and teach things and present my classroom. But each time I see the well organised files and creative displays I can’t help but feel a wave of wondering panic rising up: What will my classroom be like? How shall I organise it? Decorate it? How many children will I have? What will their abilities and needs be? How should I arrange the tables? What can I make in preparation? What do I need to buy? And that’s without even thinking about what I shall be teaching!!

Along with my list I’ve created a folder for any teaching or display resources I see on my worldwide web travels and may want to use, create or prepare for the start of term. When I get a few spare minutes [or hours] I trawl through resources on websites such as Tes looking for ideas and reassurance or watch online teaching videos. I’m a HUGE fan of Teacher’s Pet http://www.tpet.co.uk/ having discovered the website during my final placement and then met the lovely pair at the education show. So many great display resources! So, when I discovered I have just over ten pounds of print credits left on my university account… well, you can guess where they shall be going! PRINT PRINT PRINT!

Honestly, I cannot wait to meet my very own class of year 4’s in September! But I know that once I have there shall not be a second to stop and look back! As an NQT I want to do the best I can for them, helping them to be the best that they can be. Obviously there shall be bumps and hurdles along the way but I want to hit the ground running and most of all, enjoy it! So, any advice, pearls of wisdom, ANYTHING, please do not hesitate to share.

Well, I guess for the next week of so I probably should stop distracting myself with dreamy, organising or panicking thoughts of September and the summer prep and get on with finishing this assignment. Oh yeah, and packing!

Light at the end of the tunnel

It’s been quite a while since I posted on here as life has been a little hectic. I’ve just about floated back down from cloud nine over the ecstatic excitement of getting my first job. Well, I say floated.. The realization of feeling seriously unprepared for September and a million “What if?” and “How’s?” rattling around my head probably made it seem more of a heavy clunk back to reality. So much to organise, plan and decide! 

In other news, yesterday I handed in my Masters level independent study. The dreaded “dissertation”. Whilst I’ve really enjoyed the process of researching and developing my own practice and pedagogy, it was such a relief to hand that over. A week before the deadline too! So now I have a few days to put my feet up and relax before it’s on to the next piece of work and back to supply for the summer term. Oh and finding a house in the same city as my September school, catching up on the house work here and all the other little tasks that come with the role of primary teacher/domestic goddess.

The graduation tickets are booked, photograph and gown packages ordered and dress purchased. Now all that stands between the end of my degree and QTS is one 3,000 word assignment on inclusive practice. Finally I can see the light at the end of the four year long tunnel that has been my degree.

Education Innovation

Fantastic day at Education Innovation today! http://educationinnovation.co.uk/ It was great to see so many teachers, companies and other professionals passionate about bringing such innovation to the classroom and ensuring children of all ages are digitally prepared for the world.

My personal highlight has to be David Mitchell’s @DeputyMitchell seminar Sprogs with blogs.

David shared some fantastic firsthand experience of why blogging should be used. The main focus was to improve writing, however the list goes far beyond this:
-Providing an instant real audience the standard required for the prospect of being viewed by the whole world is more than the teacher
-A real purpose, beyond teacher’s marking and SAT’s prep
-Children’s relationships with parents- promoting common interests and providing a response to that often unanswered question, “so, what did you do at school today?”
-Encouraging peer assessment
-New hobby
-Self confidence and self-esteem
-Improved behaviour and raised attendance- children want to be in school
-Personal interest in the content of writing
-Increased attainment and progress for all abilities
– A global appreciation- Yep, that’s right, there’s a world beyond those four classroom walls!
-Enabling all children to shine, not just the more able writers or computer literate
-Encouraging a love for learning!

He shared plenty of best practise and creative ideas for how primary schools can make use of blogging to engage children with writing, ICT and school in general. Showcasing class work, presenting research and interactive fiction, to name but a few, all sounded like great ideas from a teachers’ perspective and from the perspectives of the children in David’s class. Also, his suggestion of QR codes to link ICT with written work, providing that evidence of work that so many teachers are concerned about, shall definitely be featuring in my classroom next year!

Next stop was Tim Rylands @timrylands Using ICT to inspire, an objective he easily achieved within his hour seminar! From Taggalaxy to Linoit, Chogger to Ivona and Spicy nodes to ZooBurst, Tim showcased a range of innovative resources that teachers can use, with plenty of creative graphics and sound clips along the way! For 88 inspirational ideas head to: bitly.com/backtotheirfuture

Using the Nintendo DS to improve Numeracy with Jodie Collins (now Lopez) @jodieworld was my next stop for a half hour practical seminar. Cheaper than tablets and more child user friendly, she modelled a great way of using the devices for maths starters and afl. As many children have the devices at home, Jodie suggested asking the children to bring them in, saving that all too precious school budget. However, I’m sure as many would be concerned with the question of insurance here. I thought it was great that she made use of the built in PictoChat software, as I think many schools would also be concerned with the cost of purchasing games for each machine as well as the device itself. Apparently there’s more info in this months’ issue of Teach Primary (7.2), although I am personally yet to read!

After lunch I stopped off at the central debate hub to hear from the Labour show education secretary Stephen Twigg. Bit of a summary:

-The curriculum is better led by the professionals than the government and more policy changes. Many would agree there is currently too much interference.
-Collaboration between schools, communities and teachers is key to Labour’s education policy, critical for the future.
-CPD will be at the heart of future policy-making (linking to Dylan Williams)
-Established and training teachers must be ready for curriculum challenges of the future
-Concept of converter academies have lost the idea of school improvement and extra support
-Must recognise lots of innovation in maintained schools, not just new academies.

Finally, was a combined seminar between representatives from DfE and NAACE, focusing on the proposed ICT curriculum. The talk raised a number of questions, including: is the new programme of study a step in the right direction? Is there appropriate balance in the computing programme of study? These were supported by Quizdom audience response system, enabling us the audience to submit our answers to each of the questions. General message, echoed from Stephen Twigg’s talk, is the massive call for more CPD, CPD, CPD! Personally, I feel this could be even more essential in primary schools, as very few primary teachers shall be coming from ICT and computing qualification backgrounds.

A very inspirational morning and thought-provoking afternoon. Hopefully it shall be repeated next year and many more can get on board! Generally message from the day; embrace technology and prepare ALL children for a world in which technology is a regular part of everyday life.

“Innovation will be led by people like you… teachers in schools” –Stephen Twigg

Education Innovation

Education Innovation @Jodieworld

I got the job!

Apologies, as I have neglected this blog for a little while in all the craziness that has been life of late; degree, masters, makaton, starting supply teaching, arguments with electricity providers, broken showers… I had intended to have a cool, witty title for this post but my brain is still jumping up and down screaming, “I got the job? I got the job! I got the job!” So I guess I may as well stick to the point. Whilst I continue to pinch my self with disbelief!

It was during a day of supply teaching last week that I first heard I had been short listed and invited to interview. This inevitably lead to much panic over what lesson I was going to do? What I would say? Wear? Who else would be going? How many? What were the children like? And the million other questions that flew through the minds of my close family and myself. As the week went on and my lesson was prepared, gradually I became much more confident about the situation and agreed with everyone around me that I’d done very well just to get an interview from my first application and it would, regardless of outcome, all contribute to interview experience. I’d know much more about what to expect the next time around. And the next.

Monday night was a strange one. I had done my last day of teaching and study research at my placement school and had left there full of self confidence and good luck wishes. The drive back to my home town was a confident one, a smile across my face, music loud and enjoying the sunshine. I knew I was capable of this, I could do it. I just had to prove that. Yet on Monday evening the nerves began to kick in. I was there, I would know the outcome in less than 24 hours time, it would have been and gone. Reality!

Honestly, Tuesday morning was the most nerve wrecking, tense, sweaty-palmed morning of my life! Forget butterflies, it was like having a heard of elephants stomp around my stomach! Little did I know that feeling was only going to get worse once it was over. The most painstaking part of it all.. Waiting for THAT potentially life changing phone call.

The lesson had gone well, I genuinely enjoyed it and felt the children had too. The lesson reflection had been difficult, only having worked with the children for 30mins, but I got some key points down. However the interview itself I wasn’t so happy about. I had told myself whatever happened, I’d be happy as long as I’d tried my best. But nerves had got the better of me! I had rambled on, repeated myself, lost my train of thought, struggled for an answer on the particularly difficult Question… I drove away from the school mentally listing things I had intended to say, yet forgotten. Surely I had blown my chance? Surely I was not specific enough?

Knowing interviews were taking place all day I was on constant clock watch, wondering what was going on now. There were two jobs and at least 6 candidates, but possibly up to ten. I met my brother and mum for lunch, but felt too sick to enjoy my food (definitely not like me!). Spending the afternoon wandering around town I would momentarily forget, then see something that reminded me of school and dive deep into a pit of panic and doubt again. I bought two new tops for school. Would I be wearing them in September at that school? Would I be wearing them somewhere else? Having now met some of the children and staff and seen inside the school I wanted it so much more!

As five o’clock neared, the time they had said to expect the phone call from, I increased the time checks. Mentally rehearsed my not-too-disappointed, “well thank you for the opportunity”. It wasn’t yet five. I helped my mum load the food shopping into the carrier bags. As she paid, I grabbed my phone for another time check, surely not long now? I had a missed call. Not the school. But in the area? Was it? Could it be? Surely not? But, who else?

Shaking with fear and anticipation, I finally got an answer on the third attempted call. I was put through to one of the governors whom had been in the interview that morning. She checked my name. She didn’t know who she was speaking to? Clearly she had a list of the “sorry but no”s then? Her voice contained no positive hint. I prepared myself for that no. Yet the words I heard, “we would like to offer you a twelve month temporary contract with year 4.”

YES! I had done it! Me!! An actual teacher, with my own class. She asked would I like to accept. Would I like to accept? I don’t know as I’ve been so certain of accepting anything in my life and definitely failed to keep my cool as I replied down the phone, the largest grin across my face, a teary mother stood next to me trying to fit the pieces of a half heard conversation together. What followed that phone conversation is a moment I shall remember for the rest of my life. And no doubt shall the people around us. As, in the middle of Tesco car park my mother and I had the biggest, most emotionally and excited jumping hug thing I have ever seen. Squeals, screams, hugs, jumps, even the odd tear. The works! I can only imagine how many peculiar looks we received, but we didn’t care. I’d finally done it. I’d got the answer I needed for that next big leap along my journey.