And so it ends...

Published:

As the summer approaches, Tomas Duckling pens his final entry in this year's NQT Diary.

The academic year is a bit like watching England at Euro 2012. It starts with a huge fanfare amid a sea of expectation and hope; gradually that hope subsides as they hit difficulties or miss the odd penalty; then it comes to the tense, crunch match (or exam) followed by an abrupt halt.

Once that is done and dusted, there is nothing left to do but relax, watch from a distance and wait until next time when it starts all over again.

The last few weeks have been tricky for me, I am quite a high energy person – someone who needs pressure – and with all my exam classes leaving I am down to a third of my timetable and I feel like I am in the staffroom more than the pigeon holes.

Now I know I am not supposed to say that out-loud – we are supposed to teach to the very last second – but it is true.

However, I am enjoying finding a new creative side, without the pressure of exams and assessments I have had my classes running around the woods searching for Jack the Ripper, creating a vibrant presentation board on Olympic history, and producing unnecessarily beautiful Cold War timelines.


This time of the year allows you to experiment and the extra time I have I am putting in to making my lessons a little different.

This slow trudge towards the finishing line also, very sadly, means this is to be my last column for SecEd and I must admit that leaves me a little emotional.

I have come to rely on this column, knowing that my revenge can be served best with a sharp line or intelligent quip.

It has felt like a crutch in times of panic, such as the Ofsted visit. But mostly, I am grateful for the opportunity to record one of the fastest and most intense years of my life.

So like all good educators I should briefly look at what I have achieved and what I would like to do next.

I have survived, against all the odds and the huge pressure. I have shown myself equal to the task and I have come out almost unscathed.

What I like best is that I feel further from the finished article than I did when I started. A year ago I would have told you I was sure of the teacher I was going to be, my views on education, and what needs to be done to sort it all out.

I can now honestly say I am fuzzy on all three. The deeper the rabbit hole goes, the more confused I get, but also the more interested and compelled I find myself to learn.

Education can feel a bit like the CIA or the Masons, there seem to be endless levels of understanding and discussion and it takes you a while to realise that, and just how peripheral your NQT role is.

So what hope shall I leave you with?

I would like to become a better teacher; I would like to fully understand learning; I would like to work with difficult kids whereas I previously thought I wanted only the easiest and best.

I would like to work abroad too. I would like to direct myself towards teaching and learning rather than pastoral issues. I would like to get promoted but not look as stressed as my senior leadership team colleagues. And lastly, I would like England to win the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 (when all else is gone, all that is left is hope). Have a great summer.

  • Tomas Duckling is a history teacher at Queens’ School in Hertfordshire.


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