Diary of an NQT: The year 9s smelled blood

Written by: Diary of an NQT | Published:
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A behaviour incident faced by a student teacher has reminded our NQT diarist just how far her own behaviour management has come this term

There are just a few weeks to go now until Christmas. I am already counting down the weeks. The first half-term this year was so short that this one is dragging on and on. The dark cold journeys to and from school are probably not helping. Having said that, things at school have been pretty good.

I have made progress in my resolution to be more organised. My mentor and I sat down to create a marking schedule. With a two-week timetable to contend with, it was much more complicated than I had anticipated. We managed it however and I now have a shiny and colourful marking schedule pinned by my desk. I was excited to get my marking under control, but now we are back into assessment season – to mark, I now have 90 year 7 projects, 60 year 9 essays, 60 year 10 assessments, and 30 year 11 mock exams.

Just as I thought I was getting completely up-to-date after the baseline tests, we have our next bout of assessments. I don’t know why we plan so poorly that all the assessments happen in the same two-week period, but it’s the same every time: major stress and frantic marking of assessments while classwork goes unmarked.

You then get your class work back under control only for the next assessment to hit. I am currently in the denial stage, although writing down my list of marking just now has made it a lot harder to ignore!

In other news, I think one of my year 9 classes has the student teacher on the brink of quitting. They are a difficult class who I had managed to get on my side, but when the student teacher took over they smelled blood. I know I shouldn’t intervene, but I find it so horrible to watch the class behave so badly and treat the student teacher in this way.

It all came to a head a few days ago when the students planned a surprise. I was sat at the back of the room as they trundled in and I could hear a few of them murmuring about something happening at 14:30. I didn’t think much of it, and the students got down to work fairly well.

However, when 14:30 struck, the whole class simultaneously started shouting 3! 2! 1! The poor student teacher looked like a rabbit in the headlights but she managed to shout at them enough to make them stop: “Whatever you are about to do when you get to one... Don’t!” She shouted.

Thankfully, they did stop and they went quiet and carried on with their work. I was impressed with the way the student teacher had dealt with it. It had taken all my control not to step in, but she had managed to get them back to work.

However, 10 minutes later, it happened again. 3...2...1! As a PGCE student, I cannot think of anything worse than having an entire class counting down with no idea what they are about to do.

The feeling of losing control must have been horrible. This time, I couldn’t just sit there. The class were clearly determined to mess with the student teacher and I had no idea what they would do at 1 either. I stood up and shouted over their countdown “LADIES”. The shock of me shouting (as

I think lots of them had forgotten I was there) was enough to silence them and they spent the rest of the lesson sheepishly getting on with their work. I felt bad for stepping in, but the student teacher looked as though she was about to cry when they started up again.

The experience, although horrible for the student teacher, was definitely a good learning experience. For me, it highlighted how much has changed since I did my PGCE and how much “easier” behaviour management has become now I am an NQT compared to when I was a student teacher.

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


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