My Mum always told me, you only learn to drive properly when you pass your test, she was right. She also told me, you only really will learn how to teach when you qualify, she was correct again.
Throughout my teacher training, I always had the safety blanket of my mentor or host teacher - either sat next to me or placed at the back of the classroom, just in case I needed support whilst I taught the students. I don’t think anybody or anything really prepares you for that first lesson of your newly qualified teacher year. 20+ pupils that you have never met before, starring at you with blank expressions as you both try and work out what to do next. As teacher you think- what is the best way to teach this group of young people? As students they think, I wonder what sort of teacher Miss Innes is going to be? Daunting isn’t the word.
I can vividly remember my first challenging lesson, racking my brains to try and remember everything I had been taught during my training year. What experienced teacher had I observed who I could take inspiration from? What differentiation technique is going to work with this student? Did I struggle like this during my first lesson of initial teacher training? Can I do this?
I have been teaching for just over 3 months now and with every honest bone in my body- it has been the toughest 3 months of my life. I graduated my training as an outstanding teacher of PE, but in actual fact, that was just the start of my journey and I now realise I am nowhere near to being an outstanding PE teacher - not yet anyway.
My NQT year so far has taught me that this profession demands you to be constantly developing and progressing. Each lesson I walk into teaches me something different, not just about myself but, about the young people we welcome into the doors of Leeds West Academy every day. It’s my job to provide these kids with a better future which ultimately allows them to walk out of school after year 11 knowing who they are and what they want to be and achieve in life. The truth is, the students I teach allow me to recognise who I am and who I want to be. They teach me just as much as I teach them and that’s the best thing about teaching.
The challenges I have faced so far are ones I never thought I would come up against. I have walked away from lessons with my head in my hands thinking ‘Am I even meant to be teacher?’ the answer to that question is provided to me when I walk down the corridor of LWA and arrive at my next lesson to 20 students all asking excitedly, ‘what are we learning today miss?’. It makes you realise that the kids will never give up on you, as long as you never give up on them.
Working in a place like LWA is like no other, no one day is the same and I absolutely love it. You only have to walk through school to be greeted by hundreds of students and staff shouting ‘Morning Miss Innes’ and it makes it all worthwhile. I started this blog describing the start of my NQT year as the hardest time in my life, which is true. What I’d like to end with, is yes it has been a huge challenge but it has also been an absolute pleasure and something I wouldn’t change for the world. I have entered a department at LWA consisting of fantastic, experienced PE teachers who consistently support and guide me. I have met fellow NQT’s who I can say are and will remain my good friends but most importantly, students who make me laugh and smile every single day.
My year 7 form make every morning a delight, my year 8 and 9 students surprise me every lesson as they literally run circles around me in the sports hall or out on the field. My year 10 students produce work which I could only have wished to create when I was in year 10. My Year 11 students, who are currently sitting their mock GCSE exams, ask me for advice on college and leaving school which makes me feel valued. Lastly, the realisation that my year 13 students will, in a matter of months, be moving into their university halls- makes all this seem like yesterday. Every student I teach helps to make me a better teacher.
Your NQT year is a massive rollercoaster, which makes you laugh, cry and sometimes feel a little nauseous. But, I guess I’ve bought my ticket now and I’m all strapped in, so there is no going back. Let’s go.