Being a teacher; be it new or more experienced, is exciting, challenging, nerve-wracking, amazing and exhausting in equal measures. It’s like spinning ten plates at once, but the plates are on fire and you’re walking a tightrope. That being said, it is that kind of wonderful craziness that wills you to get out of bed during those dark winter mornings to repeat the daily cycle.
As much as the past six months have been a shock to the system, it’s been a challenge that I have relished and one which would have been a wholly different experience if not for the fantastic support I have received from WRAT.
My journey with WRAT began in March 2018 when I spent some time working with some amazing colleagues at Leeds City Academy. Looking back, it is insane how far I have come over the past year. As much as I still have to learn, my own personal and professional development whilst being part of the WRAT family has been monumental, without doubt owing to the clear and efficient focus that the trust places on beginner teachers.
After such a positive and exciting experience at Leeds City, you can imagine my joy when I discovered that I was to join another wonderful team at Leeds West Academy. As a new teacher attempting to navigate your way through each week successfully (i.e. with your sanity intact!) can be a daunting task, however it is one made all the easier and more enjoyable by the team of staff working alongside me.
My mentor is a constant source of support (I fear I may drive her up the wall sometimes!). She is always checking in to support my ongoing development both professionally and personally, and our weekly mentor meetings are a chance to reflect on the week just gone, and to plan for the week ahead. I have learnt so much from her in the short space of time I have worked alongside her and continue to do so on a daily basis.
Alongside my mentor, my curriculum leader goes out of her way to ensure that I am happy and comfortable in her department. Whether that being through lending an ear during difficult moments, or making timetable changes to ensure my own progress and wellbeing. I often think what a different experience I could be having, had I not found myself amongst such a talented set of colleagues who are genuinely so committed to allowing me to find my feet in this profession.
Other NQTs within the school have also been a constant support. It is so lovely to be amongst other new teachers, and so very reassuring when you realise that you’re all facing similar trials and that it’s not just you who just can’t seem to get that one year 7 boy on side, or who spends far too long planning and marking.
The tailored NQT and ITT CPD that WRAT offers (how many acronyms can you fit in a sentence?!) really enhances a sense of community between new teachers and is conducted by fantastic SLT leads who are genuinely passionate about inspiring young people to give back to the profession we all love. Having a point of contact within SLT who is specifically focused on beginner teachers has been invaluable, and my weekly CPD/check in meetings have provided another tier of support that has allowed me to focus on my professional development both in, an outside of the classroom.
Reflecting on the first five months of my journey in teaching, I feel the need to return to my original analogy; Teaching is like spinning ten plates, but the plates are on fire, and you’re walking a tightrope. What I have found to be essential however, is the WRAT safety net ready to catch you!