Wednesday, February 17, 2021

NQT - 50% completed it mate.

 When I envisioned my first year as a teacher this is not what I saw. I saw my own classroom, where I could fall comfortably into my teaching style and inspire students in the classroom, where my passion and enthusiasm had a home and where students felt safe. 

A number of things have made my NQT year hard. As for thousands of other NQTs across the world too, and the only thing that keeps me trying is knowing that surely this will be the hardest year. Right? Reasons why this WILL get better:

  1. This year I am creating, molding, forming relationships with difficult students who barely know me,  next year they will at least have seen me work hard for them for an entire year.
  2. Soon I will have my own classroom, my own space to control and manage, students will come into my classroom, not the other way around. (Is there anyone else really struggling with behaviour management when it comes to nomad teaching? I just can't seem to get on top of it and it is 1000% the hardest thing right now - to the point where the thought of face to face teaching fills me with dread). 
  3. We will have a department again, surrounded my classrooms of teachers I know and can rely on. Knowing who's next year door to support your makes such a difference. Being able to 'park' a kid without worrying about bubbles and contamination will be a wonderful thing for quick win behaviour management. 
  4. Planning - right now we're still planning new areas of curriculum for most year groups, eventually I will have lessons ready to go every year (save for some adaptations) , this will save me time I just need to keep working at high quality lessons now. 
But there are many things that teaching in the COVID pandemic has taught me; I can stand in front of a really bad lesson and still make it to the end; I can change my teaching no matter what challenges happen; I am resilient, I am flexible and above all, I know I am strong enough to be a success, I just have to keep trying. 

I guess this posts is for those that are struggling, for those that are watching success all around them and feel like they're drowning, like they are way behind their peers. We've got this, we just need to remember that we are in the middle of a crisis, no one is expecting you to excel right now. Survive this so that you can thrive when everything is back to normal for us, because that's where we truly grow, that's where we belong. 

Enjoy your half term lovelies, who knows what this next half term will have in store for us, just know it is normal to be scared about the return to face to face teaching. It is okay not be as excited as everyone else. We all have our own challenges and that's okay. 

Rest up and tell guilt to take a walk - things really can wait. 


Saturday, February 6, 2021

How is Online Teaching going so far?

 How's it going so far? Because I'm beyond exhausted. I quite literally could not imagine trying to do this with children at home - you guys are actual SAINTS. All of my hats off to you. 

I wanted to use today's post to talk about the wins and losses of Online Teaching, and to share some ideas I would like to incorporate in the next half term. (Who knows how long we might be doing this for, the idea of March 8th fills me with anxiety for a number of conflicting reasons). 

What's going well.

I am really enjoying greeting every student individually as they enter the call. It immediately slows down the pace and gives students an opportunity to say hello and tell me about their week, an opportunity I don't really make time for when teaching face to face. It also allows me to make a quick check on attendance, making it easier to know who's in the call which makes picking students for differentiated questioning a much quicker process (and it's also easy to note which students have actively engaged in the lesson too).

I have been really taking the time to celebrate student success, this has been in the form of phone calls home and my new 'digital postcards'. Postcards have been a real quick, but personal way to celebrate students and reward their efforts with remote learning. 

We currently have virtual form time once a week, it is only a short session so I like to try and use that time to touch base with students, especially with their mental health and workload. I use a 'virtual classroom' to engage students as soon as they enter the call, and as expected they have thoroughly enjoyed seeing a 'pupdate' each week! This week has been Children's Mental Health week, and to really engage students to think about this, I have created a 'Positivity Board' and a 'Compliment Box' using Padlet. This allows students to add their own posts at a time that suits them, that I then share during form time to spread some joy and see what they have been up to outside of schoolwork. I think this has been really important in helping students touch base with each other too, in a way they usually would in form time. 

What's not going so well.

I am having real difficulty engaging my Year 10s online, they are a difficult group in person and really want to take advantage of the fact that students are working alone. But it is becoming difficult to get students to get the bare minimum done, I'm seeing copy and pasted answers, bullet points and simply skipped questions throughout. I feel I need to increase the use of quick, formative assessment in lesson in order to gage the participation and understanding in the lesson. Any ideas here would be greatly appreciated!

Focus for next half term:

  • Quick, formative assessment ideas
  • Spend some more time on professional CPD opportunities and reading
  • How can I make truly meaningful learning happen online?
    • Focus on modelling skills online (Annotating photos, writing opinions and explaining links)
    • Model how to approach exam questions live to support LA students
    • Focus on extended writing skills in KS3 especially. 

But right now, I'm going to plough through the final week of this half term and then sleep for approximately 7 days straight!

Enjoy the weekend you lovely lot!

Friday, January 29, 2021

How long has it been?

 I honestly don't know how long it's been since I last wanted to write, I know it's been long enough that my server has shut itself down and I've lost the little I had been able to write. ugh. I can't be surprised, it has been months and we are living in a global pandemic so I can't act too shocked. 

So here I am, starting on a new blog; 'blogging my NQT journey' in January. Woops. A* for effort though at least, right? 

So what's happened? 

Well Christmas happened, the term leading up to that was rough. I vaguely remember something about what doesn't kill you makes you stronger? Yeah still waiting for that to happen. Don't get me wrong, I did make some progress with my hardest groups, but these were honestly few and far between which became so exhausting. 

And then online teaching happened. It needed to, but heck what a rollercoaster this year has been. I'd be lying if I said I was missing being in school 100%, my hardest groups are the easiest online and I can't say with certainty that I'm confident about returning to 'proper' face to face teaching. Well actually I'm pretty petrified. But on the bright side, my two hard Year 9 groups will become a smaller GCSE group and my 10s? Well they'll just be my 10s! (And I will make that group work - even if it kills me! - hopefully not though just saying!). So right now I'm mentally preparing myself for the best 'new start' that I can - I need to nail these groups in that very first lesson, expectations and all that. So if anyone's got any tough as nails things they do without fail then please let me know! 

But mostly I'm missing my Year 7 form, the cheeky Year 8s and the hardworking Year 9s. I am in school once a week, something I really wanted to do last lockdown, so that's something I always look forward to and brings a teeny sense of normality to my life. 

Stay strong everyone, we've got this and bring it on 2021, we've adapted to everything 2020 threw at us. You've got nothing on us. 

Stay safe and all that!