This is it, the final diary entry of my NQT year! NQTs across the land will be joining me in raising a glass in celebration as our final reports get signed off, our final observations are tucked tightly under our belts, and our sights are set firmly on the finish line where we know summer time and, hopefully, some sunshine await us!
Looking back over the past year there have been a multitude of highs and lows.
My eyes have felt so heavy that it has been a headache-inducing strain to keep them open. My nerves have been rattled to the brink as I have tried to cram marking, planning, plus other responsibilities into miniscule time gaps. I have prayed for Hermione Granger’s “time turner” on numerous occasions, but instead have forced myself to stay awake until midnight trying to formulate bearable lesson plans.
Has our hard work been worth it? I would argue “yes”, in many ways – although some more tangible than others.
My hard work has been repaid by seeing assessed “progress” in my pupils’ mathematical abilities. This gives me a sense of pride. But the real warm glows have come from more subtle highs: seeing the weakest girl in my form take it upon herself to complete her homework in the learning support centre every night of the week to push herself to develop her mathematical understanding; watching a group of pupils rally together to raise money for children in Uganda to receive an education; and hearing pupils have their own, genuine eureka moments.
Two such moments occurred just this week when my year 7s discovered the relationship between the sides of a right-angled triangle, and when one of my year 8s was so enthralled to have discovered the trigonometric ratios that she declared herself to have experienced a moment of “enlightenment”.
This year, I have been a mathematician, a psychologist, a tutor, a fundraiser, a business advisor, an interviewee, a photographer, a relay runner, a mouse, a singer and a bumble bee. What other job could you look back and say you had performed all those roles in the space of a year?
The final few weeks of term certainly win the prize for being the most bizarre. The pressure of examinations behind us, opportunities to teach wild and wacky off-curriculum topics, organise exciting off-site trips, and facilitate off-the-wall extra-curricular activities present themselves.
I have found myself precariously positioned in front of a class of year 9 pupils setting out a programme of business enterprise, designed, somehow by myself, to develop their entrepreneurial skills. If you had asked me a year ago if I thought I had the capabilities to do this, I would have undoubtedly said “no”. But this, to me, is the essence of teaching, and what makes it a fantastically challenging and stimulating profession; every day you face a new challenge, you take the plunge, and you either sink or swim.
Looking ahead, I am full of mixed emotions as to what the new academic year might bring. I am excited, nervous and impatient to know my timetable for next year. Which of my classes will I be allowed to keep? Which new classes will I adopt?
Am I glad I became a teacher? Yes – 100 per cent. At this exact moment, I am exhausted, challenged, satisfied, excited, humbled, intrigued and always inspired to learn more about how to develop myself further into a useful and effective teacher. This might be the end of my NQT year, but it is just the start of a much bigger professional journey.
Our NQT diarist this year writes anonymously and is a teacher of maths from a south London secondary.