First off, apologies for the gap in posts, it’s been a manic start to the term, but this is what has inspired the latest post.
The first few weeks as an NQT/Year 2 TeachFirst were insurmountably better than the same time last year.
Knowing the behaviour policies, the majority of my pupils’ names and backgrounds, the order of the day, what teaching a five period day feels like are the small things that honestly made the biggest difference to this year.
I was on top of my marking, keeping to the scheme of work and all was going swimmingly.
Until all of the other things come into play. I have a wonderful group of year seven tutees this year and with that comes 26 new (very needy) children who require equipment checks, letter hand-ins, trips out, days off time table and a plethora of other seemingly menial tasks which all create further work.
They are a glorious bunch, full of questions, (so many questions) and comments.. “Miss my hamster bit me this morning ..look!”, “Miss my mum’s dog put toys in my school bag..look!” and a personal favourite ..”Miss what do you call a cow with no legs?… Ground beef”. I love being a tutor but i was not prepared for just how much of your life and attention they require.
This addition to my workload is what has had the biggest impact and I only realised this on Monday of week 4.
Towards the end of last year I was warned by my colleagues not to take on too much in my NQT year as you I am still only one year in which means that I am still very much in the embryonic stage of my career. I completely agreed and looked forward to this year with anticipation while i get given slightly more responsibilities whilst keeping teaching and learning and learning about teaching at the forefront. However, it was only when my subject mentor sat me down and made me write all of the extra tasks/responsibilities I had accepted within the first month of my second year I realised I had shot myself in the foot.
The list was mammoth 18 extra responsibilities on top of a normal teaching timetable! And it was completely my fault. I had said yes to absolutely everything thrown my way. I have always been told to take every opportunity, and I tell my pupils to take every opportunity but I had a complete meltdown about the fact that I couldn’t do all of my extra tasks. I felt like I had failed myself and the school.
The reason for the meltdown was not only the realisation that I wouldn’t be able to complete all of the tasks to the best of my ability but that actually my tutees and my pupils were the ones that were suffering. The more things you say yes to, the less time there is for planning and marking which means the more you risk the pupils’ progress, which is the reason why I chose to become a teacher; Pupil progression in maths and in their socio-emotional growth a a young person.
Discussions with my professional mentor were amazingly supportive, I’m just annoyed at myself that it got to breaking point before I did something about it. I learned my most valuable lesson within the first four weeks of teaching and that sometimes the right thing to do is to say no.
Instead of completing five tasks half-heartedly I can now put all of my focus and efforts into the ones where I feel push me for the early stage of my career that I am in. Hopefully, this little wobble earlier means that I can keep progressing through my career and not go near this dreaded “burn out” that you read about in the news!
Advice to new teachers .. learn when to say no. It makes your life so much easier.