Diary of an NQT: Embracing the tutor’s role

Written by: Diary of an NQT | Published:
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Our NQT diarist is enjoying his time as a year 9 tutor despite the wide range of challenges that he is supporting his students to overcome

I recently re-read my previous diary entries for SecEd while reflecting on how much has happened since I began my first teaching post back in September.

It has been a relentlessly busy few months but I am enjoying the job more with each passing week.

I feel completely settled at my school and feel more confident than ever in my teaching abilities. My recent observations have been positive, and I have established a good reputation both in and out of the classroom.

One of my earliest diary entries focused on my role as a form tutor, which I have enjoyed immensely but which I have also found challenging. I became my form’s tutor as the students were nearing the end of their time in year 8, taking over from a colleague who had gone on maternity leave.

The students had a great relationship with their original tutor, and it was daunting taking over from her. However, they made life easy for me; they are an inherently good-natured group of students, and I often marvel at how smoothly they made the transition between their old and new tutors.

Year 9 is a difficult time for many students and we educators must do our best to prepare them for the increased pressure that the year brings, not least as their class work becomes harder as GCSEs loom on the horizon. The students in my form have responded in myriad ways, with some embracing the increased challenges while others are worried about what lies ahead.

Year 9 students have the widest range of emotional maturity; some seem wise beyond their years, while others remain ensconced in childhood. It is crucial to recognise and cater to these differing levels of maturity when dealing with pastoral matters.

In dealing with my form, I have not always struck the right balance between being strict and supportive, but I have definitely learned from my mistakes. Most members of the class have responded well to my high expectations of their behaviour and attitude to learning, yet others have needed a more gentle (but no less clear) approach.

In my entry last term, I joked that the form would teach me a thing or two, and they most definitely have! By getting to know my form, I know which approach works for each individual student, and this has created a harmonious working relationship. If a member of my form fails to adhere to the school’s values, they know that I will deal with the issue firmly but fairly. Likewise, they know that positive behaviour will be celebrated and rewarded.

Before Christmas, our form won the award for best attendance in our year group. I hope this reflects the fact that my tutees enjoy coming to school and feel like valued members of our community. I am proud to be associated with our school, and I hope that my students feel the same way.

Their original tutor returns from maternity leave in May, and it is still unclear whether she will become their tutor again or if I will take them through to year 11. I can see positives to both scenarios. On the one hand, I am very attached to the form and would love to remain as their tutor. However, it may be beneficial to me to start again with a year 7 form next year, having now cut my teeth as a tutor.

Whatever decision is made, I know that it will be in the best interests of the students, which is all that matters. If I am no longer their tutor, then I am proud to have been part of my form’s time at school and hope that they have benefited from it as much as I have.

  • Our NQT diarist this year is a teacher of history at a comprehensive school in the North of England.


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