Do you ever think you should learn to say ‘no’?

Ok so teaching – we all know what it’s like. The hours, the workload blah blah blah.

So why am I continuing with my Masters??

And WHY have I decided to begin private tutoring???

I mean my teacher training course contributed 90 CATS towards a Masters so logically I thought ‘well why not go the full hog?’. Last week the summer term at uni began and I’m not undertaking my Foundation Research Module ahead of my final dissertation which I imagine I’ll begin doing next summer.

It’s pretty intense so far. Two assignments to be handed in on the 20th June and 25th September along with 6 other ‘informal’ tasks to be submitted to my tutor. I submitted one tonight so that’s progress!

I’m thinking of doing my research on deeper learning and maths and how learning styles can aid autonomy in pupils’ learning in maths.

But maybe not. I’m not sure.

The private tutoring idea came about with me thinking about how I can keep busy/earn some money over the summer holidays. I registered with Tutor Hunt and unbeknownst to me my profile went live before all my credentials had be verified so I honestly wasn’t expecting anything to come of it. That was until I got an email for an interest parent. We sent some emails back and forth. They have a KS1 child they’d like to do some work on reading comprehension and sentence writing.

I was a bit reluctant just because of my other commitments. But tonight I gave in. I said I’d be willing to help – when do I start?

Let’s see how well this goes then! Is it weird that I’m more nervous a bit tutoring this child then I am my observation tomorrow?

Why can’t I ever just say ‘no’?

Is there only really 10 weeks left?

I have been an absolutely terrible blogger. So much for me documenting my NQT year! It’s been a rollercoaster, as I’m sure most other NQTs’ first years have been. So to avoid boring the socks off you, here’s a brief low down of what has happened during each half term:

Autumn 1

  • Got laryngitis and missed going on my first school trip.
  • Cried in front of the head teacher because I don’t know why.
  • Tried to understand how to teach Talk for Writing and mostly failing.
  • Tried to understand how to teach Singapore Maths and mostly failing.
  • Generally enjoy being in class though – kids are great!

Autumn 2

  • So very tired.
  • Is it Christmas yet?
  • Only x days until we break up!
  • Still don’t understand teaching maths in ‘greater depth’
  • Parents -_-

Spring 1

  • Only a 4 week, 4 day half term?! Get in!
  • Ok, starting to get this teaching lark
  • Observations aren’t so daunting!
  • I’m actually taking on board feedback as a way to become better and not as an attack on my ability to teach
  • These kids are EXCELLENT!
  • Oh no it’s week 5 and I’ve not been able to cover all the English/maths content this half term!

Spring 2

  • Pupil progress meetings are stating to get a bit more intense. It’s like nothing I do is good enough!
  • I feel like I spent most of my time worrying about the children who are behind and not spending time on all the other children as well – feel guilty for this.
  • It’s not longer dark when I wake up in the morning!
  • I am not in the second half of my teaching year and I’m still alive.
  • Gosh – aren’t we getting good at this text mapping lark! It’s really quite fun!
  • And hey…is that mastery we’re achieving in maths? When did this happen?

Summer 1

  • The kids are growing up – just look at how tall they’ve gotten?
  • I won’t always teach these kids…I’m going to miss them.
  • Preparing for my penultimate observation and I’ll be teaching exploring perimeter to achieve deeper understanding – I’d never have taught this kind of lesson back in September.
  • Actually feeling PROUD of what I’ve achieved.
  • Oh no! my Masters module has started and now I’m £1k down and about another 20 hours per week poorer! Why did I agree to do this?
  • Excited for next year – what can I do better/more efficiently next year?

So yes. That’s over and done with. Now to move forward…

The Dreaded List of Anxieties

This is a post simply to list all the things I’m anxious about entering into my NQT as purely a way to get it out now and not try and dwell on it later.

  • I’m in a new school this year and still don’t quite know what daily routines are
  • I don’t know anyone other than the HT, my TA and the other teacher in my year group
  • I don’t understand how Singapore Maths works yet I have to teach it!
  • I’ve not yet met my mentor or know what I actually need to achieve this year
  • I’ve only met the kids for 20 minutes and can’t remember any of their names
  • I’m not sure exactly what the marking policy is
  • I’m also none the wiser as to what the behaviour policy is and what the rewards and sanctions are
  • …well there’s talk of these marbles in a jar? No idea
  • I’m worried the parents will know that I’m new and judge me because of it
  • I’m terrified about data and what I’m supposed to do
  • I’m worried that the kids won’t make progress and my superiors will have a go at me
  • I’m worried I won’t be able to make them progress and would feel like a failure
  • I have to teach Spanish. I don’t speak Spanish
  • I have to teach P.E. which is also something I’ve not had much experience in doing

I may come back to this and edit when needed. At least all my worries and anxieties are in just one place.

319

I’m sorry that I’ve not blogged much the past couple of weeks but I’ve been in both Dublin (for leisure) and Calais (to deliver aid) and have only gotten home but I’m now back in the game and ready to go.

For me, school starts on the 3rd September with two days worth of teacher training days (not actually sure what these will be on as I still don’t have access to OpenHive or my school emails -_-). During these two days I’ll add the finishing touches to my class and go over what I’ll actually be doing come the start of term on the 7th September which is where the 319 thing comes into it.

Essentially, I’ll be using the hashtag #HappyNQT319 from the 7th September to document my NQT year.

‘Why 319?’ You ask. Well that’s how many days there will be in the academic year (given your school also starts on the 7th Sept and ends on the 22nd July). Following on from last years very successful #HappyNQT100 which in itself was a off shoot of the #100HappyDays hashtag, I want NQTs (or anyone I suppose…I did it last year as a trainee) to share to the Twitter world the happy events that happen during their teaching year.

So, come September 7th, tweet and hashtag away!

**EDIT**

I’d like to direct you all to @bexn91 who is the creator of the the happy NQT blogposts on http://www.bex-trex2teaching.blogspot.com as the brains behind the initial hashtag. Go and follow her as she’s just fab.

The Emotional Investment

Yesterday’s blog about the hours worked by teachers and thus the importance of the holidays was, I feel, something most if not all teachers and school staff could relate to. Today I’m writing the second part to my three part post on the importance on holidays on something a lot more personal: emotional investment.

This is a lot harder for me to write about as I can’t be so sure that this will be a relevant to some people as much as yesterday’s post. However, I can only write about my own experiences and feelings on such a topic.

So what do I mean about emotional investment? Simply, if you’ll excuse the wishy-washy wording, I mean the parts of our hearts and souls that we pour into school. By school I suppose I would mean the children as ultimately, it is them we are working for. And that’s it isn’t it! It’s the children we work for and not the headteacher, not the local authority but those little kids that drive us up the wall and inspire us to keep going.

I left the school I was training at to commence my NQT year at another school slightly more local to me. I trained via the School Direct route so was in my class pretty permanently and was, at least during the summer term, their class teacher as I built up my teaching hours to 80% (an NQT teaching timetable). So it’s fair to say I saw these kids as ‘mine’ even though they were ‘someone else’s’. It’s weird how possessive we (or at least me – again I’m not sure how the majority do relate to this) we get over these kids. I do refer to them as ‘my kids’ and for me it feels like having 30 children that I’m trying to develop through the being a teacher. Yes, some of them were a pain in my arse but even then I still loved them in as much as a teacher can love a children that is ultimately not their own. I WANT them to do well, I WANT them to succeed and learn and I WANT them to be happy and fulfilled in their lives and the investment I put into that is simply exhausting.

When they struggle, when there are issues outside the classroom I can not control, when they’re feeling unwell, I genuinely worry and I take those feelings home with me. On the other hand, when they do succeed, when they do ‘get it’ and when they are happy and you can tell this, you do feel as if you’ve had some, if not small, contribution to that and that as well can be exhausting.

So given all those feelings, you can begin to understand why it isn’t just things like the physically hours that we work that end up causing us to burnout but July. So how do we try to resolve this and move forward? As I mentioned, I will no longer be working at the school I trained in and the day I left was a very emotional time. I cried, and cried and cried some more. Thank God we were off timetable (given it was the last week of term) so I didn’t have to teach. I knew that I’d not be able to pull myself together and teach! Was that an appropriate reaction? Am I unusually emotional? Should I have maintained composure? I’m not sure – maybe. But that is also what I am to improve in myself.

This whole project we are working on (please see the ‘about the project’ page of this blog, is about how we use mindfulness, coaching techniques and reflective practice to be able to handle being a teacher. Not just workload and hours, but just that emotional investment that I’ve just ramble on about for the past 600 words.

My NQT year will be focussed on me putting into practice these things, along with the other members of this project, to help manage those intense feels of pride, despair, hopelessness, stress and overwhelming joy.

Teaching is such a rollercoaster of a career and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love that it makes me feel!

Should We Be Switching Off This Summer?

Another interesting article from The Guardian called ‘Science of stress: how neuroscience can help teachers switch off this summer’ about how to use the holidays to our advantage and not simply allow last terms burnout take over and the worry and ultimate stress for the new term creep in.

Makes me think about whether I should be investing so much in writing about teaching right now? Should I simply put down my laptop and go outside?

Something to think about…

The Hours

First of all let’s get it out the way: the hours. Yes, including those ‘invisible hours’ we work. You’ll no doubt remember Mr Gove infamously proposed increasing the school day back in early 2014. This was of course completely shut down as an idea by unions with comments on the UK’s already shorter summer holidays and longer school days that most countries (Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, April 2014). But despite what other countries do, what affect do our long hours have on our wellbeing? I imagine that my working day doesn’t differ too much from other teachers so I will use it as a general example.

5.45am – wake up

7.30am – get into school and resources/mark/tidy/do all the other millions jobs that have been niggling me for days and weeks

9am – 3.15pm – the school day (learnt to master eating a yoghurt and marking books at the same time! Success!)

3.15pm – stay in school until I get kicked out by the site manager or I’m too hungry and need to go and buy a family bag of Doritos from the shop on the way home

And that’s just the time in school! I know that once I’m home, changed into my pyjamas, eaten dinner (had a glass of wine), I’m back on my laptop lesson planning for following week, amending resources (or creating them if I’m feeling particularly keen and TES/Twinkl haven’t come up trumps) or whatever else it is I need to do that I can do on my laptop in the comfort of my own home. It’s not very often I’m done working before 11pm at which point it’s off to bed to start it all again. It’s so easy to forgot to look after yourself working days like these. You start to forget to speak to people and begin to neglect family and friends. Anyone with a patient significant other will know the feeling of guilt not paying them the attention they deserve and I know I have, in the past, tried to make amends by putting aside work and simply going down to the pub with them and enjoy their company. 7 odd weeks later and we’re all walking zombies. Sleep deprived, over worked, socially alienated and weary.

I believe that the first half term is the hardest, not least because it’s generally the longest. The end of October is a blessing and those few days during the holidays are spent sleeping, sleeping and sleeping. I think I’d be keen if I felt able to bear the idea of thinking about the second half of the autumn term much before the Wednesday of that holiday. I frantically call around seeing what few friends are free (as, let’s face it, they don’t have the week off!) trying to make amends for my lack of attention. Let’s face it though, I have work to do and after catching up on sleep, I’m back to lesson planning and the week quickly flies by with me feeling no more rested than when I started.

All that said, it takes me back to the beginning of my introduction post about my ‘laziness’ in posting since school broke up on the 17th July. Other than a few days in South Devon for a friends wedding I have simply slept, cleaned the house (you’d be amazed how much dust a house can accumulate over 9 months of neglect!) and slept some more. You’d think with all this sleep I’d feel refreshed and it’s only now, week three into the summer holidays that I feel human and ready to enjoy my time off properly. Hence why I’m posting here, sat at my grandma’s kitchen table in the Staffordshire countryside away from my home in Birmingham and away from anything at all to do with school. Learning how to relax and properly manage my ‘recuperation time’ seems to me something I need to work on improving. Sometimes I feel I need to take a leaf out of my own back and better evaluate how I learn to relax, switch off and reinvigorate myself for the next term or in this instance the next school year.

I think I might make my own little personalised action plan on how to relax in a way that suits me. This is mostly inspired by The Guardian article posting in the last blog post. Watch this space!