Diary of an NQT: Group 9B3

Written by: Diary of an NQT | Published:
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As a trainee, group 9B3 was the one our NQT diarist dreaded, often being moved to tears. Now she’s a ‘real’ teacher, things couldn’t be more different

When I was a PGCE student, the thought of having 9B3 on my timetable filled me with dread. I used to have sleepless nights before I would teach them and spent more than one lunchtime crying over them.

They knew I was a student teacher and they took full advantage. I couldn’t control them, they didn’t like me and they didn’t want to engage with me at all. They just wanted their old teacher back.

I battled with them throughout my first placement, and left the school feeling like I’d failed a little bit because I’d never truly won them round. I had high points where they engaged and behaved well, but they were consistently the bane of my life.

So when I arrived at the same school to start my NQT year and saw 9B3 on my timetable, my heart sank. I knew the kids would be different – the next lot of bottom set year 9s – but it was not what I wanted to see.

Luckily, when kids think you are a “real” teacher, they suddenly have a lot more respect for you. Suddenly, they did exactly what I asked rather than smirking at me and whispering to their friend that I am “just a student teacher”.

Now that I am a permanent fixture on their timetable, they have decided that it is safe to get to know me and let me get to know them. They are so comfortable that they will happily explain very honestly and seriously why I am only their “second favourite teacher” (because I make them write stuff down).

While I am happy that I no longer lie awake at night dreading the lessons with them, it is definitely not all plain sailing; it’s like taming a dragon. They are, collectively, the most feisty, fiery, opinionated and loud group of students I have come across.

I’d quite like to send them all into the House of Commons and see if anyone there wants to argue with them about the UK’s departure from the EU. I certainly wouldn’t want to be up against them.

Sometimes they get so riled up when they’re making a point, they actually rise from their seat and make their speech standing up. This is often followed by a cheer from the class and a spontaneous victory dance from the girl who spoke.

The lessons always fly by in a flurry of impassioned speeches, heated debates and as much writing as I can get them to do (they don’t mind the writing so much if they get to write their opinions down!).

Sometimes, I feel that the lesson is teetering on the brink. I stop and wonder, while one student is dancing and the rest of the class are either cheering or getting ready to angrily disagree, what would it look like to a passerby? Would it look like things were out of control or would it look like they were all just incredibly engaged?

Luckily, I have enough of them onside to help me bring the class back when they are getting too wound up and even when they do cross the line, they are quick to apologise and sheepishly get on with their work.

These lessons are the ones I feel most satisfaction with. I know that when they leave the classroom they have learnt something and have had the opportunity to debate and hear other sides to the argument. What more could I ask from a citizenship lesson? Thank goodness my experience with 9B3 this year has been so different. It’s gone from the one I most dreaded, to the one I most enjoy.

  • SecEd’s NQT diarist this year is a teacher of citizenship, RE and humanities at a school in the Midlands.


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