A challenging year ahead


SecEd’s new NQT diarist is preparing to face the challenges of her first year at the chalkface, and is ready to be pushed out of her comfort zone.

Well, I am coming to the end of a great summer. I have been able to reflect fondly on the now complete initial teacher education training year. 

The successes and challenges of the year that has not long ago come to an end feel as though they have prepared me well for this next year ahead – although I have no doubt there will be plenty more ups and downs before July comes around.

I qualified as a history teacher (secondary) last year at the University of Sussex following the School Direct programme. The University of Sussex and my Lead School were superb in their provision, support and constructive feedback. 

The rigorous pace and high expectations were intense and demanding, but at this point have made me feel more excited than ever to teach – I just want to get started. I feel very lucky to have been appointed as an NQT in my Lead School.

Over the summer I was, thankfully, advised to take a complete break – advice I happily followed. Even if only for a couple of weeks, with my young family we did exactly that – we went abroad and detached completely from home. 

I have since been lucky to be able to come into school to spend time “decorating” my classroom and preparing some lessons as best I can before the start of term.

When I say decorate, I mean reorganising table settings and replacing wall displays to put my stamp on the classroom.

This has been mostly driven by seeing some outstanding learning environments last year and spying plenty of ideas that I was itching to pinch and tweak.

Some inspiration has also come from How to Survive Your First Year of Teaching by Sue Cowley – a great read if you get the chance. 

I came into school last week ready to get my class lists printed and written up into my mark book, as well as to access our SEN and disabilities system for individual learning needs.

I am a one for being organised, making lists, meeting deadlines and remembering dates, as you may read over the coming weeks and months. My preference really is to plan ahead. Many call me boring, and they are probably right, but it is the way I work best.

However, I know my organised “comfort zone” has been – and will continue to be – challenged in teaching, none more so than in this NQT year ahead.

Whether it be responding to learners’ needs in lessons, last-minute meetings with departments or parents, or managing classroom behaviour, I have begun to respond well at short notice and become flexible with my own plans and ideas.

There is a great deal to be said for collaborating with others too, sharing and bouncing ideas around your department is vital.

Although apprehensive to start, I am eager to get going. I need to stop faffing with my pencil case, planner and stash of spare pens and get on with developing those relationships with my new pupils.

I do look forward to being responsible for the learning exclusively this year and to the first lesson with each class to set out our shared expectations for the year. 

I hope to bring you good news of some success during my NQT time, and anticipate there will be plenty of shortfalls too. 

Good luck to you all on our journey – it is a real privilege to be sharing mine with you.

  • SecEd’s NQT diarist for the 2014/15 academic year is a teacher of sociology and philosophy from a school in the South of England. In this weekly column, she will chart her ups and downs, challenges and successes as a new teacher.


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