Happy new year NQTs!
I am sure you have all made yourselves a new year’s resolution; maybe you have convinced yourself that you will stop drinking on week nights, you are going to start cycling to work, or you most definitely will attend the gym three mornings a week.
More important for an NQT than these unrealistic, destined-to-fail, half-hearted attempts to feel a little more like healthy, attractive human beings (admit it, a small part of you expects that by mid-April you will be wondering why you have spent £120 on a total of four gym visits), are what I like to call “New Term Resolutions”.
Looking back over the autumn term there are a million things I would do differently and a new term feels like the perfect time to try and implement these changes.
The only problem is, I am not feeling completely prepared. Having left my place of work in December with a to-do list as long as my arm for things to get done over the holidays that would make my spring term an organised and productive one, I was surprised to find myself back in the staffroom on Monday morning with a distinct feeling that I had forgotten something vitally important.
As certain as I had been two weeks ago that I would return with the first fortnight of lessons completely planned, seating plans intelligently reorganised and resources neatly lined up ready for use, it seems I had instead spent the majority of my Christmas holidays sleeping, drinking and eating my entire body weight in Brussels sprouts.
So, when thinking about my New Term Resolutions, I have had to prioritise those with greatest urgency. Top of my list has to be to get to grips with “that class”. I have kept pretty hush-hush about “that class” in my diary entries up until now – in fact, I do not think I have ever mentioned it.
As a psychology graduate I can only assume that this has been due to a failed attempt to block the trauma inflicted by them from my conscious thoughts as a defence mechanism to protect my sanity. Events that may have happened to me during the hours of 11am and 12pm on a Thursday over the past three months are a black hole in my memory.
However, it became painfully apparent to me towards the end of last term that if I am to remain in this profession and not leave before Easter due to a nervous breakdown, I need to confront my fears and take control of my Thursday mornings.
Having mulled over my struggles with that class in my brain, I came to the conclusion that a significant factor contributing to the problem is that the pupils think of me to some extent as a supply teacher. I only see the group once a week so I am not their main maths teacher and as such, regretfully, I have not really viewed them as my class.
Having identified a cause for our woes, I was able to try and plan a solution; what is needed is some serious teacher-class bonding. The pupils need to see me as “their teacher”, regardless of the fact that we only spend 50 minutes a week in the same room.
They need to know that I care about their GCSE grades and that the time spent with me is important (a quarter or 25 per cent of their mathematics lessons each week). This is my main New Term Resolution. How successful it is I will let you know, although I can safely say that I am approaching it with more determination, urgency and passion than any new year’s resolution I have ever set for myself.
Our NQT diarist this year writes anonymously and is a teacher of maths from a south London secondary school.