I'm sure I'm echoing the sentiments of many an NQT when I say that it hardly seems that long ago that I was starting my training, and gaining QTS was a distant goal. Somehow though it is the end of August and I'm on the brink of starting my first job as an actual proper grown-up that's expected to educate a fairly large number of 11 to 18 year olds. Why am I not panicking yet?! As I watch all the panic going on over twitter I wonder what is wrong with me, I'm not panicked about it all yet. I realise this is probably a good thing because I'm not losing sleep and still enjoying my lie ins but I can't help but feel it is going to hit me like a tonne on bricks on Monday night on the eve of my first day. Note to self: make fun plans to take my mind off of the next day!
It's not that I've forgotten about it all. I've been getting myself ready, the classroom is done, seating plans are sorted, the first week of lessons are planned and I've been talking to colleagues that I'll be sharing classes with. I think I've done almost everything I can before I go back but I can't help but have that feeling of having forgotten something. I'm really pleased to be starting at a new school, totally fresh slate after my training, but I do long for the simplicity of going back to familiar surroundings. Turning up for INSET knowing where everything is and who the important people are, where to go to get my resources for the week sorted and already sorted with email etc to keep me in the loop with what's going on. All of those things are outweighed by the excitement of what's to come. Next week, this term and this year bring with them a whole host of firsts, some of which are:
- My first form group. I loved shadowing a group this year but I'm looking forward to having my own year 7 group. It's going to be extra work I know. They're new and I'm new, we'll have to be on this learning curve together, I'll just have to try and keep a step ahead.
- Teaching 6th form for the first time. This is going to be a tough one, year 12 and 13 are shared between myself and another NQT in the department. We're as prepared as we can be so far and the department seem to be on top of things, knowing we're going to need support with it. This is a challenge I'm really looking forward to. During my training I only observed post-16 and taught an activity or two as the school didn't offer my stronger language. I've done my reading and have started to plan though and my mentor from my training gave me plenty of hints and tips.
- My own classroom. During my training I carried round my laptop bag, stuffed full of goodness only knows what as well as wrestling a book box and fairly often a caddy with my other bits and pieces in it. I really don't know how I managed it, I lost count of the times I dropped things in the corridors! This year that problem is gone, no rushing between classrooms/floors and leaving things behind. The room is mine. I've rearranged the tables, decorated the walls and filled the units with all those things I'm used to carrying around. What a relief.
I think my training has prepared me for the challenges of this year as well as it could have. I was discussing this with another School direct trainee and we agree that due to the nature of our course we feel well prepared. We've tackled large timetables, taken parents evenings solo, entered report data and had to handle marking and assessment from fairly early on. At some points last year this felt like being thrown in at the deep end but I appreciate it now. I know this year is going to be even harder work in terms of timetable and mark load but it's not as big a step up as it could be.
There are other things that my training has prepared me for. As an NQT I still have to prove myself against the standards and have regular observations, although nowhere near as regular as they were at the start of my training.
In the last month or so I've taken joint responsibility for @NQTuk and #NQTChat which has put me in contact with more NQTs than I've ever realised were on Twitter. This has been great for hearing everyone's stories and sharing problems/ideas around. Also recently I was contacted by Sage the publishers about reading a book on the NQT induction if they sent me a copy, so of course I said yes - what teacher turns down a free book?!
So, the book is Successful Induction for New Teachers. A guide for NQTs and Induction Tutors, co-ordinations and mentors by Sara Bubb. The first thing I'd say about the book is that your need for it really depends on the sort of training you've had and the people you've had the chance to spend time with. One of my closest colleagues at my school last year was an NQT and so I saw the sorts of things she was doing and she was always giving me help and advice. Also, after our main training sessions had finished we had a session on the NQT year and what to expect and so I think the main bases were covered.
That said, for the person that feels clueless or needs something concrete to clutch hold of then the book is what you'd expect. It starts with a chapter on looking after yourself and covers areas that I guess I'd not considered like bullying and the inevitable topic of stress. It goes on to summarise what induction is and what is required of you and your school as well as any other involved parties. There is a whole chapter on the standards that I feel is wasted if you trained under the current standards as they are the same. I understand that in recent years this has not been the case and so this may have been more necessary.
One key thing I feel the author has missed out on is the power of Twitter. She dedicates quite some time to talking about the message boards on the TES website and the support to be found there. I won't deny that it is a good resource but I don't think it's necessarily as active or as useful as twitter.
Without giving a chapter by chapter run down of the book there isn't a huge amount more I can say. To me I felt that I was reading things I already knew, either because my training had prepared me for it or through common sense. This book would serve as a good reference to make sure that all parties are singing from the same hym sheet so to speak and I can see that it would suit some people but I'd save the £23.99, find support in school and online, carry over everything you learned at training and if you still need something do your research online. Is this a good book? Yes. Is it well written and easy to read? Yes. Would I bother to buy it? Unfortunately, no.
Just a final plug for NQTChat. This week we're talking about hopes and fears for the start of the year, please join us at 7.30 on Thursday - all welcome!