Diary of an NQT: An amazing job, an amazing year...

Written by: Diary of an NQT | Published:
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As the end of the academic year approaches, it is sinking in that my NQT year is almost done and dusted. I cannot quite believe that this is my last NQT diary entry.

The exams are over, the weight of observations seems like a distant memory, and we are winding down.

However, while it is nice to have the GCSE weight lifted, for key stage 3 it is business as usual. As I write, we do have lots to look forward to – sports day, activity day, trips and other days off timetable – so I am making the most of the time I have left and embracing the positive energy around the school.

How to sum up my year? I have had an extremely pleasant experience as an NQT. It has not always been easy, but I have relished the opportunity to spread my wings after my teacher training and I have enjoyed experimenting with aspects of my teaching practice and pedagogy.

If you are a trainee reading this and you have found it difficult to juggle the expectations, deadlines and workload of your training, I would implore you to hang in there – you will feel so much more liberated come September.

However, if you find that not to be the case when your NQT year begins, make sure you address this early – perhaps by talking with your mentor or ensuring that you are accessing the support that should be put in place by your new school.

Your NQT year should be about refining areas of practice and building on your skills and knowledge. You should not be starting from scratch.

This year every day has brought something new to the table. My viewpoints and perceptions have shifted continuously, which has made me realise that in teaching you cannot just sail through on autopilot. It also reminds me of why I wanted to enter the profession.

This year there have been times when I have misjudged situations, made the wrong choices and have created more work for myself than needed – but this is the nature of the role and the NQT experience. We learn from our mistakes and we improve.

If you are venturing into a new school in September, it is best to avoid any preconceptions about your classes. Head in there with clear expectations (for yourself and your students) and refuse to compromise on your standards. Get this right and everything else will fall into place.

This year I have also become a lot better at asking for help when it is required. At first, I found it difficult to admit when things were not falling into place. It can be easier to bury your head in the sand, but speaking out and allowing someone to advise you with a fresh perspective on the situation is not a sign of weakness – it is a clear sign of someone who cares about their practice and wants to do right by their students.

All of these stumbling blocks have helped shaped the teacher I am today, and these are valuable lessons.
Looking back and reflecting is important for us teachers. Doing this regularly is invaluable for any practitioner at any stage in their teaching career. It allows for clarity, rationality and improvement in what is undoubtedly one of the hardest careers out there.

For all my fellow NQTs, trainee and prospective teachers – thank you for reading these diary entries which have relayed my experiences, lessons learned and celebrations over this past year. I hope you have appreciated my honest but hopefully positive insights into the wonderful world of teaching. I am sending good luck vibes to all those who have results due in August and a huge well done to those who have completed the extremely exhausting regime of teacher training.

I am proud to be part of such an amazing profession filled with such amazing people!

  • Our NQT diarist is an English teacher at a comprehensive school in the Midlands.


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