First day of school nerves kicking in; packed lunch at the ready, missing my mum, trying not to get lost, hoping I’m going to make lots of new friends… I take you back to 2017. It’s my first official day at Edward Bryant School but no, I’m not four years old. I’m an NQT!
I can draw a lot of similarities between my NQT year and my first year at school. There’s so much to learn, so much to go wrong but so much fun to be had too. It’s impossible to go a day without smiling and it’s safe to say that I love my job!
I was asked recently whether teaching has been what I had expected it to be and I could honestly say, no. Not because I expected more but simply because expectations count for very little when you can never really predict what is going to happen next. I love that about teaching though, the unpredictability means that you’re never bored and there really is no such thing as ‘the daily grind’ in in this job! For me, it has brought to life one of Oscar Wilde’s most famous oxymorons; ‘expect the unexpected’.
However, If I were to invent a time machine, and prepare my NQT self for what comes her way I would give her three pieces of advice that I will also share in this blog.
The most valuable teacher tool I have found (besides Twinkl!) is my ears. I found it so crucial to listen to my colleagues in my NQT year to collect ideas, solve problems and better understand a job that I am still only just scratching the surface of. I think it’s important to remember that university can only really prepare you for the very start of your career and that it’s your responsibility to continue learning the ropes every day thereafter. Education also seems to change like the seasons! Just when you think you’ve got your head around GDPR or the play duty rota, something changes. So you can’t really expect to be an expert in all areas at all times. So when you’ve still got learning to do, listen.
- Shake it off
Since I started teaching, Taylor Swift has become my spirit animal. While so many wonderful things happen in my classroom every day, things also DO go wrong. I’ve had tricky conversations with parents, had observations not go to plan and even accidentally booted a child in the face with a football during a demonstration in PE (he was perfectly fine, my pride was not). Every time something went wrong I just had to shake it off. I quickly learned that good teachers, though they may look it on the outside, are not always perfect. Their secret power is the ability to learn from mistakes, listen to feedback and bounce back after a coffee with a huge smile and a brain full of new ideas. So when things don’t go well, shake it off.
- Enjoy the little things
My final and most important piece of advice is to enjoy the little things. As I mentioned before, since I took this job I’ve not gone a single day without smiling. There is so much joy to be found in school; a beautiful piece of work, a hilarious misunderstanding or an unexpected achievement. The children really are the best bit of the job and their quirky little brains never fail to brighten a gloomy day. I’ve also upheld what I previously feared to be extinct in teaching; a social life! Even on the days where nothing seems to go to plan there will definitely be someone on hand to have a chat (or a glass of wine) with at the end of a tough week. In a job that can be very demanding, I’ve found it therapeutic to indulge in a little laughter every day. So when you’re working hard, don’t forget to enjoy the little things.
Hopefully, if I have invented a time machine and have been able to heed my own advice listed in this blog, I’ll also be disgustingly rich and famous! If not, I probably ought to go to work. It’s not all bad though because I do without a doubt have the best job in the world!
Rhiannon West, Edward Bryant School.