A few days ago I signed a piece of paper that was the culmination of a lot of hard work over a long period of time. That piece of paper was my final NQT report, citing that I had passed my induction and that I had become a fully-fledged, “proper” teacher. It’s so hard to believe that my first year of teaching is over already. This year has flown by, however when I look back over the last 10 months, I can really say that I have come a long way and that I have learned loads in my first year. I’m so glad that I have a job where I not only help others to learn, but I am continually learning myself.
I don’t intend this post to be a really long one, but I wanted to reflect on three of my personal highlights of this year, in no particular order. This is a very self-centred post, based around my own development, rather than that of the children in my class, however these really do fall hand in hand.
The development of my own creativity
In the blog post I wrote the night before the first day back at school in September, I said that one of the things I was looking forward to this year was developing my own creativity. I am very confident that this is something I have achieved and I look forward to developing this further over the years to come. Learning through having fun and enjoying the work is central to how I carry out my job, so I have found creative ways to teach and to spark children’s interests over the course of this year. Some examples are an Aztec warrior breaking into the school during the night, receiving a bogus letter from the City Council threatening to sell off the school field and creating a massive story around it and crash-landing a spaceship on the school field (this one was a team effort though!). I have a few plans up my sleeve for next year and I can’t wait to try them out!
Developing myself professionally
I would not be the teacher I am without the help, support, guidance and fantastic ideas that I get from the online network of teachers on Twitter. It is fantastic to be a part of this community and I was particularly pleased to meet some of the inspirational people on Twitter when I was at BETT in London in January. I’m looking forward to meeting some of them again in January 2012!
I have also been lucky to build up a great network of local contacts who can help me in my day-to-day work. I have attended pretty much every free, after-school CPD event in Newcastle this year. It has taken a huge chunk out of my own time and during winter, it was particularly difficult to go to the other side of the city when it was dark, cold and wet outside, however each and every one of these events was worth it. I have been able to build up a great list of contacts locally, and as much as I don’t like the term “networking” (I find it sounds very smarmy and false), that is exactly what I have done a lot of this year to get to know people, but also to make myself known.
The local Teachmeets have been very useful this year, and I’m looking forward to hopefully presenting at the next one in the North East. Quite unusually for an NQT, I have already presented at two conferences this year. One was a Links into Languages event aimed at senior management teams from primary and secondary schools throughout the region, where I jointly-led a workshop. The second was at a history conference organised by Tyne & Wear Museums and Archives, where I spoke about a project I had taken part in with my class. These were extremely useful experiences and who knows when I’ll next speak at a conference?! (Actually, I do – I’m running a workshop at a cluster training day in October!)
At the start of the year, one of the things that made me most nervous was the prospect of building a relationship with the parents of the children in my class. I was very nervous that they would look at me, realise that I am 23/24 and decide that I actually don’t know what I’m doing. Although I did feel that I had a lot to prove to parents at the start of the year, I very quickly built up an excellent relationship with them and I feel that this is one of my biggest achievements this year. I won’t lie and say that I had everyone on my side, but the vast majority of parents seemed to be very happy with the work I was doing, and some of the feedback I have had has been amazing. I hope that this is something that I can replicate next year and for many years after that.
My relationship with my colleagues has continued to grow. I am so, so lucky to work with people who are not just colleagues, but also friends. This creates an excellent atmosphere in the school and really makes every day so much easier. Working with people who I know I can go to for advice at 8am or 8pm has made this year so much easier and I am looking forward to working with the same group of people again next year. I really dread ever leaving my school, as I know that a lot of schools don’t have this sort of atmosphere and ethos, so I am very grateful that I have been able to have this experience right at the start of my career when I need it the most.
By far the most important relationship I have built up this year has been with the children in my class. I never thought it could be possible to feel as attached to a class as I have this year. I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every day at work and although I may moan from time to time, there has not been one day when I have not wanted to go to work. There’s not many people who can say they have a job they absolutely love, and it’s thanks to the 27 children I have spent my days with this year that I love my job as much as I do. They are the reason I do this job, and it’s very important that I keep reminding myself of that when it sometimes feels like the toughest job in the world.
I’m really looking forward to September and to developing myself as a teacher even further and to developing my practice. If every year is as good as this first year has been, I am going to have a very happy career in teaching.