The following article comes from class teacher Toria Bono, the third part to her ‘Becoming the Teacher I Am’ series.

‘Teachers have three loves: love of learning, love of learners, and the love of bringing the first two loves together.’

This is where I left last week’s post and I promised that I would explain how I brought my first two loves together as I commenced my first full-time job.

Before I get into that, I will back up slightly though, as I didn’t really explain how I got my first permanent teaching post. Prior to commencing the P.G.Cert P.D., I wrote to various schools in my home-town and offered to volunteer on my day off each week. One school got back to me immediately (well, within a week as everything was done via the post then) and I started to go in every Thursday and support in Year 1. I loved doing this and I remember when I returned to retail each  Friday, I would be so forlorn and desperate to commence my new university course. I  eventually started the P.G.Cert P.D. and the headteacher, at the school I volunteered at, was happy for me to carry out my placement there.

I was one of many students at the school and I really wanted to be appointed if a job came up. I knew, from what I was hearing, that all the teaching students who were at the school were good, so I needed to find something that would help me to be excellent.

Music is one of my greatest loves and (little-known fact) I am pretty good on the piano – so I began playing for some of the assemblies. I am also quite a good singer, who had spent all my childhood in one choir or another and so I helped to run the choirs in school. During the Easter Assembly, I stood in front of 600 children and all the staff (even though I was a teaching student) and led the singing. To this day, I am known for my rendition of ‘spring chicken’ and am proud to say that the children at that school still learn the actions I created all those years ago!

A job did come up and I got it. As luck would have it, the music lead left and I was able to fill their shoes. I was so excited and couldn’t wait to start! I remember the first day I went into my new classroom, filled with anticipation and so many great ideas. There, lying in front of me was backing paper, borders, a staple gun and no instructions. Now, in all my years, I had never backed a board and was literally clueless. It took me a whole day to back my first board – yes one whole day and it wasn’t even a big board! That is why, to this day, I teach every student I have to backboards – a skill for life!

I also wasn’t sure what to have on the boards – there wasn’t Twitter or teacher forums to ask and everyone else was making the most of their summer holidays. So, I did what any decent new teacher would do, I filled my boards! I used WordArt (it was new and very up and coming) and created 150 words for my ‘word wall’. I then created the numbers 1-100 for my maths wall and so the madness continued. My first classroom was so busy and not how I have my classroom now – but I genuinely didn’t know any better. I remember learning about classroom ‘wallpaper’ in my second year – the stuff that is just up and never gets changed. The stuff that children no longer see because they are so used to it. Just like wallpaper – it becomes invisible due to familiarity!

Right, back to my NQT year (which might take a couple of articles as I haven’t even started writing about it yet)! My classroom was ready, I was ready, September began and I welcomed my first class – 1B! I couldn’t have been happier or more excited – my own class – my class – no one else’s class – a class named after me – 1B! Anyway, during my first week I had a terrible awakening – I was the one fully responsible for the thirty children in my care. For some reason, I thought that the safety nets that I had had as a student would still, somewhat, be there. However, the stark reality was that I was the one in charge – I had to think on my feet and I couldn’t go for advice to the class teacher, because that was me. Oh my goodness – what a responsibility!

Having thought about this a great deal, I truly don’t know how I could have prepared for my NQT year because it was an immense shift. I went from teaching some of the timetable (and I was teaching a great deal) to all of it. I went from not worrying about the bits I wasn’t teaching to having to ensure anyone covering me knew exactly what needed to be done. Yes, there were school policies and I did have supportive colleagues, but what, how, when and where my class learnt was down to me. The progress they made was dependant on the choices I made and the hardest thing I found was that the parents held me accountable.

It was an incredibly steep learning curve for someone who wasn’t too keen on responsibility. and I shed many tears along the way. However, I also had such immense joy as I realised that I was doing what I was born to do – teach.

I loved teaching/ I love teaching and next time I promise that I will tell you how I brought my first two loves together!

Becoming The Teacher I Am Series
Part OnePart Two
Primary teacher Toria Bono


Toria Bono

Toria has had many roles in the primary sector – from class teacher to school leader, but is happiest when she is teaching children. She currently teaches at Thomas A Becket Junior School and wants all children to have the best possible learning opportunities.

She is committed to using research to inform her decisions about how best to teach and is keen to support other educators to do so too.

Through her blog Teaching Others & Learning All The Time, she shares her experiences, opinions and lessons learned in the classroom. She also empowers other eduleaders on Twitter via the #TinyVoiceTuesday and #TinyVoiceTuesdayUnites hashtags.

Follow Toria on Twitter – @ToriaClaire

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