Diary of an NQT: Tears and tantrums

Written by: Diary of an NQT | Published:
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Being a year 7 form tutor is proving to be more of a challenge than our NQT diarist expected...

Never has a truer word been spoken than when I was told that no two days are the same in teaching.

The last week has been a whirlwind of events. While we may feel like we are beginning to settle into a routine, this week most of my focus has been taken from teaching due to a rather demanding tutor group.

On joining the school, I was assigned a year 7 form. I willingly accepted, but I wasn’t naïve. I pre-empted some minor issues of adjustment for both myself in terms of organisation, but also for the year 7s, considering the fact that this is an important year of transition for the pupils.

For the most part, adjusting to the role of a form tutor has been extremely positive. It’s a lovely prospect to greet the same group of students every morning, forming a close bond with your group and being part of their journey.

The advantage of a year 7 form is that you begin their journey instilling positive expectations, helping shape their sense of identity and empowerment. This alone is great for your confidence as a teacher. But as with all good things, it does come with some hiccups.

The issues began small, but soon my tutees were visiting me more and more regularly with questions and concerns (some relevant and some not so relevant).
As the week progressed, it felt like I had dealt with one monumental crisis after another. Tears and tantrums have ensued with lost PE kits, pencil case thefts, he-said-she-said tales, and older pupils making remarks in the hallways. There’s been no end to the drama! And while I know they will make for comical anecdotes come year 11, at the moment my tutees seem to be eating up every free moment I have.

It dawned on me that I was having regular visits from the same group of students each break-time, lunchtime and even between lessons. I couldn’t help but think I was going around in circles, parroting the same advice time and time again.

I am struck with the realisation that I hadn’t quite prepared myself. The role of the form tutor is much more than registering students, reading out the daily notices and making uniform checks. We play a huge part in building resilience and independence into these students, so they become confident in making choices and judgements about difficult situations on their own. It’s also become apparent just how important it is that parents are aware of your methods.

Over the last week, having an on-going dialogue with my pastoral and year team has helped a great deal in working through these issues.
After discussing with my mentor, she was quite concerned about these things eating into my free time. As she explained, it is important that we are able to take a breath throughout the day. She offered some simple but great advice that may be of use if you find yourself in the same situation – from now on, I’ll now be offering a drop-in session once a week for tutees to address generic concerns about school. So unless it is an emergency, this will be the time to come and ask for advice.

Of course, for any serious concerns, my door will always open.

Again, this is another situation where the advice of someone with experience has helped immensely. In the mix of things, it’s often easy to overlook both the logical and simple solutions.

As the week draws to a close, I’m considering how much I truly underestimated the role of a form tutor before becoming one myself; it really does take a measured balance of patience and a firm hand to help guide students into their own independence.

However, it does mean that, at this moment, the teaching side of things seems much easier!

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


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