‘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!