My first experience of an open day/evening and what an experience it has been! As autumn continues to close in I left the house in darkness at 6am, a little unaware that I was going to struggle to see daylight all day. As I returned at 10pm, the sun had certainly disappeared to sleep and I was surprisingly excited to get into bed myself, even if it did mean setting the 5:30am alarm once again for the following morning.
I felt trapped in a goldfish bowl all day and parents came in at some of the worst possible moments, or so it seemed.
I had parents and their precious little ones wandering into the dance studio while looking bemused at 30 year 8 students performing the Hakka as part of their cultures scheme of work – All Blacks-style, complete with heavy movement, chants and waggling tongues – a slight variation, all be it for better or worse, than the dance education I’m sure they assumed their pupils would be receiving here.
The reality is that as their teacher, I was actually incredibly impressed with their performances – they were working confidently within the genre, combining art forms, choreographing using devices. I am not sure whether the parents viewed it with the same sense of pride that I did!
The evening itself was a whole new ball game and was run like a military operation. The circulatory email with the classroom requirements did make me smile and there were no surprises that it stemmed from the member of the senior leadership team known for their obsession with neatness!
It included ensuring that classroom displays were current, the room was tidy (I even had my shoes cleared from the back of the dance floor mid-workshop because it was “messy”), and continued to list advice on how best to match your chairs up! I may find it a little overwhelming, but with a waiting list as long as ours I guess they have a winning formula – maybe that begins with chairs...
An essential skill needed within teaching, which they don’t write on your job description, is sales. On open evening, we become sales men and women proudly representing our school to encourage the new cohort to join us for the next academic year.
Within this building, it is similar to the football league structure – each faculty is supporting their own “Premiership teams” religiously (our own departments), until the time comes when we need to unite to support England – the school. Suddenly, any rivalries dissolve and we are now selling a new vision that extends further than what our own department can offer, for even if we are outstanding we will not get the intake without the excellence of the rest of the school.
Walking through the corridor promoting drama with the students (the ones who generously gave up their evening to help) allowed me to see the smiles plastered on the faces of other teachers, who I could tell were as shattered as I was behind the mask. It was reassuring to know that it isn’t just the NQTs who found it exhausting – or that were itching to shut up their classrooms as soon as the clock hit 9pm!
The long day was a success, though there were many teachers and volunteer students sporting dark bags under their eyes the next morning. The waiting list for the school begins to grow already – I’d like to think it was the excitable Hakka that sealed the deal.
Our NQT diarist this year is a teacher of drama and dance at a school in Essex.