Diary of an NQT: Getting to know you

Written by: NQT diarist | Published:
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Becoming a form tutor has proved rewarding for our NQT diarist, although the role throws up an array of interesting, engaging and sometimes bizarre interactions with students

The most satisfying aspect of my new role so far has been becoming a form tutor. As mentioned in my entry last week, I took over a form group who were nearing the end of year 8. This was a daunting prospect as the form had developed their own routines and traditions with their original tutor, with whom they had a fantastic relationship.

I was determined to make the transition between tutors as seamless as possible, honouring the high expectations that had existed mutually between the students and their previous teacher.

Any concerns I had proved to be unfounded, as the 30-strong group of 12 and 13-year-olds made me feel immediately welcome. During my first week, my form proved to be an invaluable source of information, helping me to become familiar with the school’s premises and procedures. I would encourage future NQTs to be open to advice from their students – they know the school inside-out and may offer information that fellow members of staff have not thought to relay.

And so in the weeks leading up to the end of term, I developed strong relationships with my form. The school has a clear programme of activities to be completed during morning registration and these are an excellent way of getting to know your students. We will often discuss current affairs, with the students offering intelligent, sensitive responses to the turbulent events occurring around the world.

However, my favourite moments have come from chatting to the students before school starts. These more informal conversations allow you to focus on individuals and really get to know about their interests. For instance, one girl in my form has several horses and takes part in dressage competitions, another student has recently been signed to a major football club’s youth squad, and two girls have written a wonderful article explaining why Malala Yousafzai is an inspiration to them.

These are all personal details that I have discovered by showing an interest in their lives outside of school. As well as being enlightening, these conversations are often very funny, such as the exchange I had with a boy who asked me for relationship advice: “Sir,” he said. “When you have a girlfriend, do you have to speak to them every day?”

“Well, yes,” I replied. “It’s probably a good idea.”

“Ah right,” he said thoughtfully. “I don’t think I’ll bother then. Thanks Sir.”

Being a form tutor has not been without its challenges. There is a young man in my class who is on the verge of permanent exclusion. The student has a lovely side to him and has a passion for creative writing (something he and I share), yet he cannot modify his behaviour. I have been working closely with the school’s inclusion workers and leadership team to meet the boy’s needs, but the end of term proved to be difficult for him and he was excluded for much of the final week. When he returns, we will continue to support the student in the hope of keeping him in school.

I take my role as a form tutor seriously. I hope to have a positive impact on my students’ lives and will do everything I can to ensure that they reach their academic and personal potential. I look forward to seeing them grow up to be hard-working, fulfilled and conscientious young adults who are ready for whatever lies ahead when they leave my care at the end of year 11. Likewise, I suspect that they will teach me a thing or two in the next few years.

  • Our NQT diarist this year is a teacher of history at a comprehensive school in the North of England.


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