The end of the first chapter…

July 20th 2012

CPD

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So it is now official, I have seen my report and I have passed my final assessment. I am no longer a ‘Newly Qualified Teacher’, I am a fully qualified out there alone teacher. Interestingly Milton Keynes LEA, who run one of the NQT induction schemes in the area, have this year extended the courses into the second year. They have acknowledged that after getting the basics sorted in the first year there is then time to digest more complexities in your second, or even just swat up on that subject which you’re not as comfortable teaching.

I am now looking back on my first year and thinking ‘wow’ what even happened? To be honest I didn’t expect to learn as much as I did, I know this probably sounds incredibly foolish but after being rather disappointed with my PGCE’s attitude of ‘just do it’ I expected my NQT year to be very similar. This time my learning did not come (so much) from reading books on learning theories and how to manage behaviour but from actually being on that stage, in front of a class of children, and needing to know what to do next.

I am quite often asked by family and friends if it will get easier; will there be less work to do? Probably not, will I get more efficient at it? Probably…will I then use the extra time I have to take on extra responsibilities? Yes. The amusing thing about teachers is that this is often the case, as we become more proficient in our roles; we take on extra responsibilities, very infrequently being able to sit contentedly as we were the previous year but now with the knowledge of our mistakes. This is what makes teaching so exciting, you are pushed and challenged into learning in new areas, new approaches and new ideas and you must adapt.

I am now left reflecting on the last year, what would I do differently? What would I want to tell myself if I was starting in September? I think I was incredibly lucky in my first year that my year manager was very much of the attitude ‘it will get done’ not ‘it has to be done now’. One of the biggest pressures on teachers is the volume of work that needs to be done and deciding what to prioritise in order to ensure it does get done. There is no way that you can get everything done, for example, parents evening last year I was in school until 7pm one night and at least 6pm the following night – I then toyed with the idea of taking my books how to get them marked. This was a time where you really need to think about the necessity, marking and feedback is very important to learners (if they read/listen to it) but it is not the end of the world if it’s missed on occasions.

I was recently reading http://plpnetwork.com/2011/08/19/bud-hunt-thoughts-for-new-teachers/ and thinking about how even more experienced teachers need to take the same advice. The two ideas I took mostly from this article were that of try learning something yourself 1. It’ll stop you working ALL the time, 2. It’ll give you the experience of not being able to do something. I have been eyeing up the Raspberry Pi’s for a little while now and I am thinking that this might be my little learning project. I would like to return to my programming days and see if I can learn a language such as Python to then be able to share it with the children at school. The second thing I took from this article was whatever you day ‘Write about, reflect upon, and learn from all of them’. This is something that I feel I could really have benefitted more of this year, actually stopping and thinking ‘what have I done, how did it go and what do I want to do next’.

So now I look forward to round 2 in my teaching life (or I guess round 3 if you count the PGCE year?! Anyway). One thing I can say from this perspective is that I have a much clearer idea of what I want to achieve this year, how I want to achieve it and what I am going to do about it. The forefront of this idea is that I want my students to collaborate on a much wider scale than with themselves within the classroom and the more I can do to facilitate this the better.

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