Keep calm and carry on

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A stressful and busy week leaves our NQT diarist feeling out of her depth. But by taking a step back and remembering why she does what she does, things have slipped back into perspective...

Another stressful week in the life of the performing arts NQT – and a week where I’ve felt completely out of my depth. It’s been long, tiresome and filled with drama GCSE exams and rehearsals, overly vexed staff and even crucial staff members missing. 

So not only am I organising and taking cover for those teachers involved in the examinations, but also for our head of faculty who has been off work ill. At the same time, both studios continue to be occupied by said examinations, meaning further cover for the classes that would usually be occupying those spaces.

My frees have been eaten up by theory cover all week and my mornings spent rushing between admin, the computer, the printer and department staff to try and ensure everyone knows where they are meant to be. Transitions between lessons were spent acting as a terrible five foot three bodyguard of the performing arts studios, pointing to ignored A3 signs on the door that tell the students not to enter (and yet many still tried) and redirecting them to their relocated class.

This subsequently meant I would arrive late to my own lessons. For the first time ever I am grateful I teach a subject where the first five minutes are spent getting changed and so I hope the students have not noticed my early absences too much. 

In fact they probably enjoyed getting changed without the constant “hurry up you’re taking far too long” barking through the door, which I’m guilty off as I watch my planned lesson fade away as the minute hand ticks on by.

Among these stresses, along with senior leadership team observations and assessment tracking, comes the kicking off of rehearsals for our summer musical, which has inevitably eaten up all of my evenings. The team ethos within our faculty seems to have dissolved within rehearsals for this project – which now sees me choreographing the entire production in just seven rapid weeks. This is a factor that has definitely contributed to a rise in the number of sheep I count at night, as slowly work begins to take over my life.

It is during weeks like this that I am grateful for sticking to my guns and ensuring I keep an active social life, as I was able to put the students to one side, draw a line under my terrible day, and head to the theatre myself as I performed in a public showcase across three nights. 

I love teaching, but performing is a feeling like no other (Billy Elliot was right – it’s electricity).

I loved being able to have this alter ego – organising cover by day, stage dancer by night, and I was reminded of why we put ourselves through the stress at all. That feeling I get on that stage is the same for our committed students who come to rehearsals week-in, week-out. 

I too was that child who joined every show available at school and loved showing off my talents – so it’s only fair I provide the same opportunities for our students. And with a smile and my passion back I return to school – after all, cover lessons and missing staff aren’t anybody’s fault, they just have to be dealt with.

So here goes another week of missing staff and musical stress – yet I’m handling it a lot better than I was last week. It’s true, you do need this NQT year to learn how to handle these kind of things – and my latest target? Keep calm and carry on.

  • Our NQT diarist this year is a teacher of drama and dance at a school in Essex.

 


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