NQT – Nonstop, Queasy & Tired

I did it! I made it through my first week as an NQT! It has been an insanely busy week, starting with an inset, through to a half day with my Vertical Mentoring Group (VMG) and 2 full days of lessons. I have been so tired I struggled to put one foot in front of the other, and so overwhelmed that I just had to cry. But I have also been enjoying getting to know my new colleagues and students, and remembering why I love teaching so much.

The title needs some explaining I guess…

Nonstop:

As mentioned above the week has been manic. The inset on Monday had my head spinning – there was a whole lot of information to take in from a variety of sources. It was basically 7 hours of being talked to about admin systems, departmental admin, rules and regulations. These are all very essential parts of the job, but it is so much information in one go.

Tuesday saw Year 7 joining us – I met my 6 Year 7s joining my VMG, answered any of their questions (including ‘Is it true that if I ask a Year 9 where to go when I’m lost they will send me the wrong way?’) and took them on a tour of the school (it was the blind leading the blind!). After lunch it was my first lesson with my Year 7 class, which also happened to be my very first solo lesson EVER! They were incredibly quiet, with me and eachother, so I was glad I had picked a ‘People Bingo’ starter- this one had some general bits mixed with a maths question on every row.  It got them talking to each other, talking to me (I joined in!) and about maths. After that I followed the First Lesson ideas from Jo Morgan‘s blog here. It went down well and kept the students sharing their ideas about maths in an informal/game atmosphere.

Tuesday night was some more training, though subject specific this time. By the end of it, my brain felt like it had been through a blender. I couldn’t focus on anything and felt so overwhelmed. I started wondering if I was really cut out for this, and cried when my boyfriend asked how my day had been on the way home… I’m glad to say that I wasn’t the only one to have felt like this. In conversations on Twitter and our NQT WhatsApp group, it was clear that all of us felt very at sea after being bombarded with new information from all sides. I went to bed early, trying to remember that the first few days at any new job are like this, not just teaching…

Since then, I’m even more glad to say that I have enjoyed every second. I think having the students back in, making a start on those positive relationships and actually getting back to the teaching has made all the difference. I’ve remembered all the reasons I love it, and have been able to put all the information from the first few days into practice, or ask more questions about it when I’ve needed to! I’ve been at school 7.30am-6pm most days this week while trying to sort out admin and adapting lesson plans for my classes after meeting them for the first time. The days themselves between 8.25 and 2.30 have gone so fast that lessons seem to be over when I blink, and then I’ve had so many small tasks, like creating seating plans and markbooks, that I only realise it’s so late when my tummy starts to rumble! I’ve not minded this though – it’s going hand in hand with my ‘Work stays at work’ resolution, and my time at home has been for me and my long-suffering boyfriend to finally spend sometime together.

Queasy:

Though this one could quite easily be about me, it’s not the best anecdote I have for the word! Believe me, I felt sick to my stomach before that Year 7 class came in for the first time, but once I started teaching I forgot about it entirely. I was in the zone, wanting them to feel comfortable with me and each other, so I relaxed into it… and so did they by the end!

So if ‘Queasy’ isn’t about me, who is it about? You guessed it… it’s about a student! On Friday, that lovely little Year 7 group were working really hard on the Mixed-Up Clock problem… when one hand went up and little Abby* told me she had been sick. And she had, mostly all over herself 😦 … Yes, my lessons are that exciting!

I have to admit that this is one of my worst nightmares. I hate being sick myself, and it’s all I can do not to follow suit when someone else is! But I held it together, asked the boys nearby to move onto another table and asked my mentor (who had thankfully popped in about 10 mins before this incident!) where Abby* should go… He took her to see the school nurse and she went home later that morning. But not before I had to clean up the desk and her belongings, before taking them to her… Thankfully my carpet was untouched by vomit, so I didn’t suffer the consequences all day.

I’m impressed with my own composure over this whole incident. Though I have made a mental note to ask who to get in touch with if it’s ever worse/on the carpet next time!!!

Tired:

I think this one speaks for itself. After a 7 week summer, the early mornings alone this week were incredibly hard work. It really hit me how tired I was on Wednesday after a half day with my VMG… 3 and a half hours of being all-singing, all-dancing for a class is exhausting! I could barely walk around the kitchen to help with dinner that evening, and was sound asleep before 10pm.

It has been entirely worth it though, even if only for the small things. Like the Year 8 boy thanking me for a great lesson, a Year 10 who pretends she has loads of attitude but secretly loves helping out, and the 10 minutes that Year 9 worked in near-silence (except for helping eachother) and realising that I did that… MeI really am a teacher!

Last night we celebrated with a bottle of prosecco, a nice home cooked dinner and cake from Bettys. Then at 10:30 I went to bed, for a gorgeous 9 and a half hour sleep! Today I have kept to my word for the most part and had the day off (though I did log some positive comments for this week’s stand-out pupils while my boyfriend got ready to go out…)

To conclude, I can wholeheartedly say that I have loved this week, despite its ups and downs. This is mostly down to the wonderful team I have joined.

I adore my new school. The Maths Department are absolutely wonderful. My mentor is excellent at answering my 100s of silly questions and making sure I am looking after myself already, and almost every member of the rest of the team has checked in with me at some point during the week, including the Head of Maths and the Directors that have been in school. There are also 4 of us newbies, which helps as we are filling gaps for each other and feeling less alone in the new environment.

It isn’t just my own department that are amazing. All the staff I have come across have been so welcoming and helpful. The students are also brilliant – though the school has excellent behaviour policies to keep them in line, unlike in other schools, they still have so much personality. It has been a joy to get to know some of them this week.

I can’t wait to go back on Monday and get back into that classroom, for another amazing week. What an excellent start to my NQT year!

I hope everyone else’s week has been wonderful too, I’ve heard that this week can be the hardest of the year… and we made it! Please don’t forget to join in with #NQTchat with @NQTUK on Wednesday, 8pm-9pm. I’ll be hosting this week, and can’t wait to catch up with you all!

(*Name changed.)

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