Diary of an NQT: Relaxation and preparation

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Half-term has given our NQT diarist time to relax and reflect, but thoughts of work were never far away as she prepared for the weeks ahead.

So fully refreshed after a week off...

Was it a full week off? All nine days? Running in the park, through the autumn leaves without a care?

My half-term was, I am guessing, pretty typical for a teacher. I did get away for a few days which helped, mainly because of my reduced proximity to school (and the exercise books).

I did find myself working too; writing my year 11 reports and marking mock exams for year 10. But it did feel like an appropriate level of commitment for the role I play in educating pupils. So one day was spent at school and some afternoons and evenings at home working.

I have been told that teaching is a lifestyle and I agree. From my perspective, the half-terms, Christmas and Easter breaks are of course a blessing in that they give you a much-needed breather from the demanding teaching timetable.

However, it is not necessarily a time to do nothing. Some of my best planning was done last week.

I know many of my pupils pretty well now, what their needs are, and what activities engage them more. As such, taking time to find creative ways in which to measure their progress has to be time well spent in my book. So although I was sat in the evening with my pyjamas on for much of it, it is quality work that I am proud of.

Heavily linked in here is the notion, for me, that I cannot switch off from thinking about people. As humans we tend to like interacting with others and as we have chosen a career with such a significant need to communicate and encourage, I (like many others I suspect) am unable to switch that off.

So I do find myself walking along the beach or making a cup of tea, mulling over how to build rapport with one pupil or how to stretch and challenge another or how to just get “that one” to sit still and listen!

Therefore the nature of the job and our desire to nurture means we don’t switch it off. I wouldn’t want to. So feeling refreshed I am now back into routine already feeling much more settled and at home. 

Walking back in on Monday was a lovely feeling, being reminded of some of the great work pupils had completed last half-term in my classroom, as I had been keen to display and model good work. My “Well Done Wall” littered with at least 40 names of pupils who have already received merits for their great efforts, attitude, work in class or homework.

As Remembrance Day is imminent, my plan for these initial weeks back is to build in time for each class to complete an exercise around the centenary of the Great War. This is certainly “doable” in my subjects.

As a school we have a full programme that will last for the four years of the centenary in order to commemorate those who had fallen in the conflict. 

We have all been asked to contribute with ideas for the events in the programme, including building a trench in the school field, a Christmas truce football match, carol services and performances, Normandy trips along with more classroom-led literacy and numeracy-based activities to learn more about the war. 

Inspired by a local monument and the poppies at the Tower of London, I plan to use one wall in my classroom for pupils to represent their own reflections and their developing beliefs of this part of history. 

Half-term was a welcome change to the pace of school life, but equally a productive, reflective time to assess pupil progress to date, plan ahead and take stock of a fairly pain-free first half-term. I found it pretty conducive to planning more creative learning in order to support the vision of the wider school community.

  • SecEd’s NQT diarist this year is a teacher of sociology and philosophy from a school in the South of England.


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