Breaking a golden NQT rule

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Our NQT diarist has stuck to three golden rules during her first year at the chalkface, but this week found herself surprisingly angry after one of them was broken...

They call them the half-term blues, but they seem to have stuck with me even now and I can’t shake them off.

Although I have been back a while now, I still miss the comfort of a good lie in and it hurts that little bit more each time the alarm goes off. Maybe the trick is to keep waking up at 6am even when on holiday (surely not)! 

I am in work early, alone in a desolate building (it is very much the calm before the storm), staring at my inbox which is alive with coloured flags, folders and emails to reply to before I am invaded by my tutor group.

This, along with the pile of GCSE drama log books awaiting to be marked, trackers to be completed, Artsmark status to be applied for, letters to be written, resources to be made, folders to updated, shows to organise, documentation for faculty evaluation and sheets of data waiting to be analysed, reminds me of how I felt when I first arrived in September – overwhelmed. I thought I was managing my time well, but it would seem otherwise.

I was told maintaining a work/life balance is the key to a successful career in the education industry – I know of too many teachers who go home and even take their marking to bed with them to ensure they are on the ball, much to their partners’ displeasure! 

For me, I am very much sticking with the attitude that this is my job, not my life, and I will endeavour to work to live while attempting to do well in the process. Perhaps this is just an ideal.

In the meantime, I have created a few golden rules:

• Leaving before 4pm on a Friday to compensate for the late nights spent doing extra-curricular clubs each other evenings.

• Not working Friday night or Saturday to maintain some “down-time”.

• Always, no matter what, getting to my own dance class on a Wednesday evening – even though it’s a fair distance away.

And so the downwards spiral begins – for the first time I have broken a golden rule and am surprisingly angry at myself for doing so. I spent the evening watching my clock, and as it turned past 7pm I was thinking of my lovely friends starting dance class while I sat with my red pen in hand slaving through my marking and making PowerPoints for my lessons the following day. 

It seems my frees are inevitably eaten up by various external factors that mean I have had to begin taking my work home – which I resent.

I tried so hard to justify taking the hours out of my evening to dance for my own benefit – but I knew that if I did I would regret it the following day when I was attempting to teach off the cuff, which perhaps is a skill that becomes second nature the longer you’re in the profession.

And so the evening after missing dance, I arrived to work early to a good friend of mine, the caretaker (one of the most valuable friends you can have in the school!) telling me that my fellow NQT in drama had to be asked to leave the building at 9pm last night after he found her still in the office marking. 

It’s good to know I’m not alone!

  • Our NQT diarist this year is a teacher of drama and dance at a school in Essex.

 


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