Tuesday, 28 July 2015

#HappyNQT100 - 100 days later.

Just over 100 days ago I started the hashtag #HappyNQT100, I blogged about it here.  When I began I thought I'd be the only one, or that I'd have a couple of people join me if I was lucky.  I was not expecting the response that came my way.  Quickly I had messages from between 20 and 30 NQTs in support of the idea and saying they'd join in.  Of course, many of these dropped along the way but a core group stuck it out until the end.

Before I reflect on #happyNQT100 and where it goes next, here are a selection of our 100 days:

'Teacher friends' from my PGCE are visiting, cannot wait to offload some stress and share our progress over some cocktails #HappyNQT100

There were many many more to choose from but there would be far too many to put them all here!  Sorry if your tweet didn't make it or if some people feature heavily - I've just picked a few of the best.

What #happyNQT100 has appeared to do is to help NQTs find the positives in every day, even on the days where it wasn't obvious.  Here are some of the comments:

Some people even said they intend to carry on as it so was so positive.  I'm so pleased that I could start something like this and see it grow and affect so many people.  Wellbeing/work-life balance/stress relief - whatever you want to call it, is so important for teachers at all stages of their career, so why not start as you mean to go on?

So where does #HappyNQT100 go next?  Despite not being an NQT myself any more I will be promoting #HappyNQT100 throughout the year and hoping to get lots of new NQTs on board, starting at whatever point they wish.  I really believe that it's just the sort of boost NQTs need and helps you to build your support network.  I'll also be speaking about it at PedagooHamps in September.

Take a look at #HappyNQT100 on twitter yourself if you need any more evidence!

Looks like we already have our next participant!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

My #summer10

So I hadn't blogged for ages and now I'm writing again less than a week after last time.  This evening browsing on Twitter tonight I read this blog by Rachel Jones.  Having just finished reading her latest book I decided I'd join in too.  I won't explain it here, you can read the post yourself. Without further ado, here's my #summer10

1) Enjoy being a student again!  No, I don't mean the nights out, lie ins and takeaways... I want to get really stuck into my masters, especially these next two weeks of lectures.  I'm looking forward to learning again and getting back into studying education.

2) Read a book.  I know most of the reading I will be doing over these next 6 weeks or so will be to do with the Masters, but I would like to try and read something else just for myself.  Ideally I'll go for something not education related but I'll not promise that one!

3) Get clued up on Growth Mindset.  Having heard it mentioned loads at a conference last week I mentioned Growth Mindset to the assistant head for Teaching and Learning.  She's really interested and wants to meet me about it in September so I need to know what I'm talking about!

4) Do some exercise.  A while back I bought a collection of exercise activities for the Wii - dancing, yoga, cardio etc.  I've used them... once?

5) Learn more about photography.  I invested in a new camera last month, a step up from the last, but I don't feel I know enough about photography to get the most from it.

6) Get out and about with the camera.  I'll need to put the knowledge to good use!

7) I'll try and get more adventurous with my cooking.  Of late we're getting much better at the sorts of things we cook but I'd like to get better with ingredients and knowing how to do things.

8) Catch up with friends.  With so much going on I know I've not stayed in touch with my friends very regularly.  It's easier with some than with others but I'll be able to be a bit more flexible with my time for a few weeks.

9) Enjoy my holiday and explore.  I'm going on a cruise with my parents and we're stopping in a lot of Spanish cities.  Being able to speak the language gives me more confidence to explore and I should make the most of it.

10) Don't spend the whole summer thinking about September.  Obviously there are all sorts of bits and pieces that I will need to make sure I have ready for September, especially with the Masters and other things I'm getting involved in, but I need to make sure I don't spend my time worrying about or planning for September.

I'll blog again just before term starts to update you.  Please, if you blog - and if you don't then it's not too late to start, maybe try @staffrm - please join in with #summer10 !

Sunday, 12 July 2015

The NQT year is over, but it doesn't stop here. Reflections on Career Planning CPD

Last week my mentor wrote my final report and signed me off for my NQT year.  I expected it to be more exciting to be honest, instead I just put a tick in a digital box, added my comments and off it went.  I'm not going to write one of those posts talking about everything I have done this year, I've already used this blog as a way of reflecting on those things anyway.  I don't want to draw this blog to a close as it is something I enjoy and truly think helps me to improve.  Instead, I am going to write about my plans as I move into my career post-induction.

On Friday I attended a conference on Career Planning for teachers in their first 3 years of teaching.  It has left me with a lot of food for thought, some of which I am going to share now.  There were a range of sessions to choose from and I attended talks on Moving to Department Head; Getting Noticed for the Right Reasons; and Progression through the Pastoral Route.  The first keynote speaker was Jackie Beere who I found to be particularly inspirational and a great way to start the day. From her speech I have started to read into growth mindset, learning to learn and metacognition.  These are all things I have heard about before but never really looked into.  In fact, I've got so interested in this area that I've emailed my headteacher to discuss how it could be brought to our school.  My push for contacting him also came from Jackie and the other speakers.  Each one of them emphasised how important it is to volunteer for things and put yourself out there, I'll come back to that in a bit.  Jackie told us all about her career and how she has got to where she is today, she's a very impressive lady and really interesting to listen to, in fact I was disappointed when she had to cut off her speech as she was over running.  I could've listened to her for much longer.

The other keynote was by Alex Reppold, billed as NQT of the year 2008 and the youngest head teacher in the country, a tagline he was very keen to correct.  He was indeed NQT of the year, in Hull, and is no longer the youngest head having just been knocked off the spot by a 27 year old.  Regardless of all that I found his speech equally motivational.  Alex stressed a point also mentioned by some of the other speakers about 'getting to good and then working out what you want to be outstanding in'.  Alex talked about his personal experience of getting 'in the know' about a particular topic or issue and then sharing it with teaching colleagues and SLT.  He said that before you know it, you're known for doing that and become the go-to person.  Over time if a role opens up that is related, you're likely to be the one considered for it.  'Do something, share it and people will notice'.  Finally Alex talked about not being 'a mood hoover'.  He admits that this is not a concept he came up with but I really liked it and it's definitely worth a mention.  We all know a mood hoover.  They're the person that dismisses all the new ideas, finds obstacles to everything and is resistant to change.   Alex stressed the importance of not being a mood hoover.  That's not to say you can't question change, in fact you should.  Ask questions, give suggestions and always try things out rather than just saying no!

The key points that I've taken away from the day are:

  • Volunteer and just say yes.
  • Find what you're interested in and become an expert in it.
  • Do something and share it.
  • Focus your vision, work out what you're aiming for and the experience you need to get there.
  • Experience does not need to come in the form of a paid role, find something relevant to what you want to do.  Can't find it? Start it yourself.
  • Get involved with the good bits - especially with the students you don't teach.
  • Keep up to date with everything that is changing, make yourself the person in the know.
So now it's the end of my NQT year!   Slowing down and relaxing sounds like a good idea, right?  Nah, not for me thanks.  My Ma Education starts next week and I have loads of reading to do, I have a copy of David Didau's #wrongbook next to me that I'm itching to read and I've got lots of exciting things going on at home.  I'll slow down next summer.  Maybe.