Diary of an NQT: Taking on the residential trip

Written by: Diary of an NQT | Published:
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Ahead of her first residential trip, our NQT diarist reflects on the challenges she will face spending a week abroad with a group of students

At the beginning of the year, I agreed to help staff the annual ski trip and, as I write this diary entry, it is now just a few days away (although by the time you read this, it will all be a distant memory).

Both the excitement and the nerves are kicking in. This is the first residential trip that I have been a part of since embarking on my teaching career and, in all honesty, I am not quite sure what to expect.

Apart from the obvious physical aspect of skiing every day, I’m pre-empting the mental exhaustion of not having the opportunity to escape a large group of teenagers at my leisure!

Of course, I am certainly not naïve to the intricacies of a residential trip, and my first thought definitely wasn’t that I was gaining a free holiday.

I actually thought long and hard about both the advantages and disadvantages of volunteering to support the trip. Ultimately,

I am sacrificing my half-term and it will result in a backlog of work for me to catch up on when I’m back at school.

However, my main reason for agreeing to help was part of my ambition to embrace as many opportunities as possible in my NQT year. Also, I am a keen skier, so of course there was an instant appeal for me.

But more than this, I am intrigued about the dynamics of residential trips: at what point, if any, does a teacher “loosen the reins” and step back from leading? I like the ethos behind a residential trip, in that students receive a rare opportunity to build on their strengths and social skills outside of the classroom. There is also an element of independence required from them in terms of being away from home, building resilience and stepping outside of their comfort zones.

There are a number of things I aim to be conscientious of while away. First among these is maintaining an air of authority outside of the classroom. Balancing the right amount of firmness and leniency will be a challenge.

For obvious safety reasons, it is important to maintain a level of discipline in order for the students to feel safe and secure. Having said this, I think it will be both difficult and exhausting to stay in “teacher-mode” all hours of the day, so I’m sure the mask will slip every now and then.

It is also worth considering that this may be the first occasion that some students have been away from home for an extended amount of time, so being sensitive to homesickness is definitely something to be mindful of.

Luckily, I’ll be attending with four experienced staff members – one who happens to be the head of my year for my tutor group. It will be nice to spend some time with members of staff and build on the positive relationships I have already established in school. It will also be interesting to see how they interact with students and staff outside of a school environment. I am sure I will learn a lot.

Of course, the only downside is that I don’t perhaps get the half-term buzz that everyone else enjoyed. I will still have a pile of work to catch up on when I return, and I’ll certainly miss the lazy mornings that I always schedule in for my half-term break.

But, despite the early wake-up calls, I can’t deny how lovely it will be to embrace the fresh, Austrian morning air!

  • Our NQT diarist this year is an English teacher at a comprehensive school in the Midlands.


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