Diary of an NQT: The exam countdown begins

Written by: Diary of an NQT | Published:
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The NQT year is half-way through and thoughts are now turning to examination preparation...

A new month and another new milestone reached. I am now approximately half way through my NQT year.

But this month sure has brought its challenges. After experiencing a loss in the family several weeks into the spring term, I found myself struggling to get back into the rhythm and routine of teaching.

My sleeping pattern was all over the place and waking up in mornings was a challenge. Support from my colleagues and the motivation of not letting my pupils down got me through a tough couple of weeks.

On top of that, for the first time this year I found myself counting the number of lessons I had left with my year 11 classes before their GCSEs. I found the realisation that their exams were just a few short months away quite daunting!

I need to make sure that I not only cover all of the content on the specification in time, but also leave enough time to revise with them during lessons as well.

I had individual conversations with each of my year 11s when I gave them their mock results. This enabled me to give the pupils specific targets based on where they could improve and what they needed to do between now and the summer to achieve their desired grades.

I found these conversations incredibly useful and the pupils also appreciated the time I gave to each of them. It appears to have made them more focused than ever. Long may this last.

During these last few weeks I have also acted upon the advice of my mentor, who provided me with a series of GCSE past papers and asked me to sort the questions out by unit. This exercise proved invaluable, as it allowed me to carefully analyse and evaluate the types of questions that have dominated the exam papers over the last few years. I have also been using some of the past paper questions as a regular part of my classes in order to help my students to familiarise themselves with exam-style questions and good exam practices.

One of my targets last month was to take a more active role in parental engagement. As well as attending several parents’ evenings these past few weeks, I have also attended an open evening with year 9 pupils and their parents.

This gave me the opportunity to talk to both my pupils and their parents about the GCSE science curriculums that we have at the school and give them my opinions on what I felt would be appropriate options for them to take at GCSE, based on their targets as well as their participation and attitude in classes.

I was also able to work alongside parents to devise strategies to help their children in the classroom. As a result of this I have not only changed seating plans but also been able to email work home to parents if their child has missed any school days.

Furthermore, I have continued to print-off extra resources to help differentiate between pupils in the classroom. Both parents and pupils were very grateful for this and have responded positively to my efforts.

Elsewhere, I have volunteered to help lead a year 8 football trip which will take place later this year. I feel like this will give me a great chance to experience the logistics and challenges that come with managing and organising a school trip.

Crucially, it will also give me the opportunity of working alongside my pupils outside of a science laboratory environment.

Over the next month I have set myself a target of using my new resource bank of past paper questions to lead year 11 revision sessions after school. This should help with pupils’ exam preparations, as well as allowing me to shoulder additional responsibilities within the science department.

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


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