Wednesday, 31 December 2014

#Nurture1415 and #teacher5aday

I have seen both of these hashtags appear over the past few days and wanted to join in.  Not wanting to choose between the two but equally not wanting to repeat myself I have tried to combine the two.  I will do my 5 positives from 2014 a la #Nurture1415 and then make my 5 wishes using the #teacher5aday categories.


1) I felt like I was blogging for a reason.  Previously my blog had felt like me talking to myself but in the latter part of this year I got more responses.  I realised there were actually people reading my blog, and what's more they were telling me that they were feeling the same way.  My post about 'Getting my teaching mojo back' seemed to really strike a chord with not just NQTs but some more experienced teachers too.  This gave me more confidence in myself and what I was blogging for.

2) I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried to get more involved.  In the summer I met a group of other bloggers for the first time, it was really good to put faces to twitter handles and get to have a conversation and not worry about a 140 character limit.  It was even better to spot these faces and have people to talk to at ResearchEd.

3) I started my first proper job and, despite a wobble in October, I enjoy it.  It's not been easy, everyone knows that and wouldn't expect the NQT year to be any other way.  I'm lucky to be in a department with really helpful, experienced staff but also two more NQTs.  There are a lot of NQTs in school but having 3 in our department has been really good - even if it's for a therapeutic rant at the end of the week or quickly exchanging resources at the start of the day.

4) I've kept time for myself.  The hardest balance for a teacher but I was determined that I would do it from day one.  I love my 'No Work Wednesdays' when I go to the local adult music school at my old school where I play alongside my ex-head teacher (which was strange at first) and led by my saxophone teacher from school.  On Wednesdays I have to leave school at a decent time and whilst I'm there I can't think about work - I'm too busy trying to catch up with all the black dots that are flying past me on the page!

5) I have applied to volunteer at the Olympics in Rio 2016.  This has meant taking language tests in Spanish and French and committing myself to learning a basic level of Portuguese.  So far so good, I've passed each stage of the application process.  This opens up the door to me doing more travelling like I keep saying I will.  Watch this space on this one!


#connect - I want to blog more, on relevant issues not just what is going on in my world and get involved in the debate.  I want to take a more active part in twitter, I've taken a back seat to observe but it's about time I got braver and spoke up.

#exercise - How to write this one without it being a generic 'I must go to the gym more often' resolution?  The fact is that has to be it.  I need to realise that walking up two flights of stairs with all my school bags does not count as exercise.  Neither does the amount of walking to and from the printer I do, or walking round the classroom.  I keep saying that I don't have time to go to the gym/swim but I shall just have to make it.

#notice - What is going on outside the teaching 'bubble'.  It's very easy to get wrapped up in these things, especially with teaching taking over my twitter and slowly but surely my Facebook too.

#learn - I'm applying to do an MA in Education.  I know it's going to be hard work and a lot to juggle but I feel it's the next thing for me to do.  Whilst I've got the enthusiasm and interest for it I want to give it a go.  I don't necessarily know where it is going to take me but I think it'll be worth it.  Part and parcel of this is reading more, I don't do it enough and if nothing else this will force me to do that.

#volunteer - I said to myself that I'd get involved outside of my department at school.  I set the wheels in motion and then other things took hold.  I am determined though that this is something I will do this year.  I remember how much music meant to me at school, and as above still does.  Even if it's only in a small way I want to help with this and get involved.

Monday, 22 December 2014

NQT term one survived. Bring on term two.

It's been quite a while since I last blogged, I seem to only be posting about once a half term these days.  I'm just not reading as much as I was before and so don't necessarily feel I have as much to say.  My training posts and the ones from the start of this year were all about the trials and tribulations of starting out in teaching, maybe everything has been a little less dramatic of late?   Jokes aside though, I do wish I was writing more.  Reading, writing and getting involved shall have to be another one of those New Years' Resolutions that never get kept!

When I sit down to think about it now I'm not sure if this term has dragged or flown past.  It doesn't seem like that long ago I was in school putting up my displays and planning the first lessons for classes that I hadn't yet met.  On the other side however, when I think back over everything that has happened since the first week of September, it seems like I've been teaching in this school forever.  I finally feel like I know my classes, I'm getting the hang of school policies and I'm starting to know the names of some of the other staff (it's a huge school, I've got no chance!)

I'm not going to pretend that things haven't been difficult and that I haven't got a long way to go.  Anyone that has read my previous posts will know that's not true.  I'm still working on addressing the balance between working and having a life.  I know it's hard but I am now starting to think it's actually possible, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel so to speak.  I'm very lucky to be part of a really friendly and helpful department and even luckier, I feel, to have two other NQTs in the department to rant to at the end of the day or share last minute resources with in the mornings.  We share best practice as a department regularly and I'm feeling more able to integrate new ideas into my lessons.  Of late I've been reminded of the basics that I've put to the back of my mind.  It was all too easy in the middle of this term to forget things that were a natural part of lesson planning last year just to make planning quicker and easier.   That makes another thing to add to my list of resolutions!  All this aside I'm really pleased with my first term report, I've had positive observations from my mentor and the NQT tutor and there are plenty of things to celebrate.  As per usual I'm just highly critical of myself.

To address one of the forgotten basics I have created a progress and reflection board.  Inspired by a display shared by the MFL Resources forum I have a series of challenge cards that can be used to check progress and a progress line for students to put their names on and move during a lesson.  I've not begun to use it yet but I'm hoping once I've integrated it into routine and adapted some of my teaching (or returned to some of my old practice) it will start to have an impact.

My theory is that after the initial shock of this first term I can start to build things up again.  I know I need to take things a step at a time and not bite off more than I can chew - as I tend to do - but, in reference to an earlier post, I think it's another step to getting my teaching mojo back.

Talking of biting off more than I can chew... my current project is writing my personal statement for my MA application.  I'm hoping to study MA Education at the Institute of Education.  I have 60 Masters level credits from my PGCE already so I should be able to study 2 modules and a dissertation.  The MA is something I've been thinking about for a long time, and something I know will widen my opportunities for the future.  As well as this, the research parts of the PGCE, blogging, twitter and events like ResearchEd have really got me interested in education as an area of study.  I know that this isn't exactly going to help my attempt to readdress the balance between working and relaxing but for me I feel that it's a step in the right direction.