What I have learnt so far during my NQT year
Take a look at any school in the modern world and the word innovation will scream out at you. But what actually is innovation? Most teachers who join the profession have a particular flair and creativity when it comes to lessons - after all, we are often faced with teaching children subject matters that they do not always want to engage with. Therefore, here is what I have learnt in my NQT year so far.
As teachers, we have to be engaging. Even as adults we find it difficult to be engaged with things that we do not find interesting, we do not feel we need to know, or that we do not identify with. So, imagine being a child faced with this dilemma every day. Therefore, we, as teachers, must endeavour to change this.
In my NQT year, I have learnt how important it is to have personable skills with children in order to be innovative. Children love humour, they love discussion and they love having their voices heard by their peers and the adults around them. Engaging students in lessons can regularly be a challenge, but by focusing on these three factors, I have found that the students in my classes are eager to learn, are positive and happy and are prepared to produce high quality work that they are proud of. Not only this, if innovation is a new idea, creative thought or having an imagination, then surely it is vital that we are teaching students HOW to be innovative through engagement and confidence.
One of the ways I have shown students HOW to be innovative is through my learning environment. Before I was an NQT I dreamed of what my classroom would look like and with the support of the Teaching and Learning team and Principal, Mrs Carrie, I have been able to bring my dream to life and establish a room that promotes innovation, creativity and ambition.
One of the most important lessons we can teach students is how to think ‘outside of the box’ and be imaginative but students need visual aids to help them achieve this mind-set and drive. To support them on this I wanted to create a classroom space that had energy, colour and evoked interaction and discussion.
Students are passionate about their work being illustrated in and around the school and they feel a sense of pride and achievement when they have helped create a display. My year seven students created a ‘witchy’ themed display which involved them focusing on their pride in their presentation and creativity when tea staining their work for effect. These students still look at the display now and comment on their creation.
More recently, I encouraged my year seven students to be more creative with old shoeboxes. After reading ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ my students created a ‘Wood in Athens’ (a scene from the Shakespeare play).
The biggest lesson I have learnt from my NQT year is watching innovation and creativity in practice. Observing my colleagues throughout this year has been vital to my pedagogical development, as it has opened up a gateway of inspiration and ideas of how to teach particular topics, or tackle disengaged students. The English department at Leeds East Academy are always experimenting with creative ways of teaching our subject, as the GCSE curriculum demands a vast amount of knowledge and skills from students.
In addition to all of this, the White Rose Academies Trust provides tailored CPD sessions to all NQTs to help us develop our pedagogical practice. This year the WRAT has established a collection of CPD sessions that we could choose to be part of. Within these sessions, we have been given the opportunity to develop our own projects that focus on an interest that we have. One of the areas of focus for WRAT CPD is ‘Innovation’. This focus gives staff the support and guidance they need to develop and create an innovative project. I have found that opportunities like this have further driven my ambition and progression as a teacher.