NQT Special: One term down, two to go...

Written by: Diary of an NQT | Published:
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As the Christmas break approaches, this year’s SecEd NQT diarist reflects on their first term at the chalkface – the highs and the lows

Looking back on my first term as an NQT, I am considering the highs and lows that I have experienced since beginning my first teaching post.

Fortunately, the positives have far outweighed the negatives, and I am progressing towards being the best teacher that I can be. However, there are areas of my practice that I need to develop further if I am to reach my full potential.

My greatest achievement since beginning the role has been the building of positive relationships with both my students and colleagues. I have experienced very few serious behaviour problems in the classroom, and I believe that this is the result of the high expectations that I have set and constantly reinforced.

I feel that my students are making good progress and are enjoying my lessons. This is due to the atmosphere of mutual respect that exists between me and my classes, and I hope to nurture these positive relationships as the year progresses. During my ITT year, a senior colleague told me that no teaching can take place until behaviour is under control. I am pleased that I have established a harmonious working environment early on.

I also think that I have made a good impression with my colleagues. I have been given a lot of support by fellow teachers and associate staff, which reflects the community values of the school. I hope that I can return the favour by being a dependable, hard-working and conscientious colleague.

I am committed to fulfilling my wider school responsibilities. During the first term, I have organised a residential trip to Krakow and Auschwitz, begun training to become a Duke of Edinburgh expedition leader, joined a behaviour management working group, and begun working with colleagues and students on the renovation of the school’s memorial garden.

This has been very rewarding, and it is a great opportunity to get to know students that I do not teach, as well as colleagues from other departments.

Elsewhere, I have enjoyed teaching subjects outside my specialism and I am thrilled that the majority of students in my English and geography classes have made progress since the start of the year. Every lesson in these subjects is a challenge for me, but I am becoming ever more confident in my ability to deliver the curriculum to a high standard and am proud of my achievement so far.

The head of English and I have discussed the possibility of me picking up more English classes next year, and I am hoping to carry on teaching my year 9 group of boys during their GCSEs.

A key area for development is the quality and consistency of my marking.

During my first formal observation, I was criticised for the lack of meaningful marking in my year 11 students’ books. The weakness of my marking led to a negative judgement during my first observation, despite the fact that the rest of lesson was a success.

This was a difficult lesson to learn, but I am now glad that it happened early in my NQT year. The shock of receiving a “limited” judgement for my marking made me realise just how crucial this element of teaching is. I have worked hard since to ensure my marking is both regular and purposeful.

Due to my background working with students with SEND, I am passionate about ensuring that every child is able to access the work that is set. However, I do not feel that I have mastered differentiation yet, and am continuing to develop my skills in this area.

I think that my use of targeted questioning has improved greatly since qualifying as a teacher, but I need to focus on ensuring that all of my resources are appropriately differentiated. Fortunately, I have excellent support from teaching assistants, who have gone out of their way to suggest strategies to ensure that my SEND students are able to engage fully with my lessons.

I am still struggling to get the work/life balance right. I am so tired by the end of the week that I will often let weekends go by without socialising, and this has had a negative impact on my relationships outside school.
Although they understand the seriousness with which I take my job, a few friends have admitted to feeling neglected in the past few months and I am determined to address this as the year progresses.

My friendships are very important to me and I cannot allow my commitment to the job to interfere with these relationships.

Overall, my first term has been a success. I am excited to come into work each morning and am thoroughly enjoying the job.

I will keep reflecting upon and honing my teaching practice, and I look forward to seeing where this year takes me.

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

NQT Special Edition

This article has been published as part of SecEd’s autumn 2017 NQT Special Edition – eight pages of guidance, advice and practical tips for new teachers. Topics range from wellbeing, workload an work/life balance, to classroom advice, feedback tips, behaviour management and advice about your own rights and entitlements. You can download the entire eight-page section as a free pdf via http://bit.ly/2Bv5dIc


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