Final half term contemplations…

Ello, ello, ello

So for those of you who are new around here, hi, I’m Steph, an NQT in a gorgeous little primary school in Newcastle. I love my job, I love where I work, I have the best colleagues in the world. My road to teaching hasn’t been conventional, but I got there in the end. I was a TA for 4 years, then I became a HLTA, then I realised that yes in fact teaching was the thing that I wanted to do for the rest of time, so I got my degree (as well as working full time) and then, last year, I finally qualified. So this year has been my NQT year. I work with a brilliant bunch of kids who make me laugh EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Now that we’re at my final half term, I’m just gonna share some musings, some thoughts, some questions, some wonderings about my final half term and maybe, just maybe, what I would like the future to hold.

  • Teaching is completely and utterly for me.
    It’s hard, it’s really exhausting at times and there’s more things to think about than brain space sometimes, but it’s the only thing I want to be doing for the rest of time (cause let’s be real, I’m going to be working until I’m 100). I invite anyone who thinks my job is “easy” to come and join me for a day or two… then you’ll see.
  • The politics of teaching is just ridiculous at times.
    I try not to get involved in the politics of teaching, but there is more of it than I realiased and that’s not fun. I get it, I get it, but man, I came into teaching to be a teacher, not a politician.
  • I do this job because I love it, but yes the holidays are great.
    People are ALWAYS commenting on this… and yes I can’t get away from the fact that the amount of holidays I get is wonderful (I would never deny this) but equally half terms are NEEDED.
  • I want to enjoy teaching for a while.
    People ask me (quite regularly) about going into management and senior leadership and while that’s not something I don’t want, I didn’t qualify just so I could be on someone’s SLT. It would be great to find myself with the responsibility of being a leader one day, but not just yet. I wanna actually master this craft before I try my hand at something else. One day I would like to see myself as a leader, but at the minute I don’t see headship in my future.
  • The subjects I thought would be the scariest haven’t been.
    I was DREADING teaching PE, absolutely dreading it, but actually, it’s become one of my favourite things to teach. Is it the thing I’m best at teaching? Gosh no, but it’s just so FUN. I’ve HAD to open my eyes and upskill myself and that’s been great.
  • Twitter is a wonderful platform for teachers.
    Do I feel like an imposter at times? Yes.
    Do I think why do these people care about what I think at times? Yes.
    Do I sometimes worry that my voice isn’t needed? Yes.
    But let me tell you, twitter teachers are the best, most caring and giving people you can come across. Find yourself a bunch of teachers who make you laugh, challenge you professionally and who support you and you’re laughing. I’m so very lucky that I found my tweacher friends quite quickly and they’re the best bunch ever.
  • Don’t be scared to get involved in conversations and attend events.
    There are so many conversations happening all the time and if you’re passionate about something then join in. People will challenge what you think and people will support what you think – if you’ve got the gusto to go out there and talk about something you’re passionate about do it. Yes there’ll be people who say things to antagonise you, but you choose the conversations you join in and the people you surround yourself with. There are SO SO many teaching events to get along to so get yourself out there and do it (it’s terrifying, but it’s worth it). Look up #BrewEd – there’s bound to be one near you happening.
  • Some lessons won’t go to plan and that’s life.
    I beat myself up SO SO MUCH about this and slowly, I’m realising that I’m human and bad lessons happen. It doesn’t make me a bad teacher, it just means I need to take a step back and think about why it didn’t go as well as I thought. I never did quite understand the whole “doing reflections” thing from my SCITT, but now it’s something I do without even realising (rarely are they written down, but it’s all in my head and it’s all useful)
  • It’s not a bad thing to ask for help.
    Asking for help is such an important tool. I encourage my kids to do it ALL THE BLOODY TIME but I’m so bad at it because I see it as a weakness (isn’t that mad?!) but I’ve got better. I’m still not great at it, but I’m getting there.
  • Ask all of the questions, even if you think they’re stupid questions
    THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A STUPID QUESTION. Say it again. Ask it again because you might not get the chance to ask it again.
  • Stick to your guns about something
    If you believe in something, or you think something isn’t right, then stick with your gut. I’ve had to do this a few times this year and I’ve been right every time. If there’s one thing I believe in in this job it’s that teachers know their kids. If something’s not right with your job, your workload, you, one of your kids, talk to someone about it. People are generally ridiculously supportive.

I have a load more to say but I’ve already rattled on for 1000 words (sorry guys).

I’ve loved my NQT year with all of my heart. It’s been exhausting, incredible, moving, frustrating, emotional and so many other words. I know this is just the first step up a VERY BLOODY LONG staircase, but it’s the only staircase I wanna climb

Thanks for sticking with me. If you’ve got any questions or anything you wanna say, please just let me know. I’m a bit inconsistent with my teacher posts, but I think it’s something I’d like to do more of.

You’re all amazing. Let’s have a brilliant final summer half term! 

S x

WOOOOOOAH WE’RE HALF WAY THERE…

The title for this blog has LITERALLY just come to me as I start to type. It is ironic in that it is both true and one of the things I’m going to be mentioning in this blog post.

So… we’re HALF WAY THROUGH THE ACADEMIC YEAR. 

Ahem. Yeah, that’s a thing. I’m half way done being an NQT. What a half a year it has been. I’ve laughed a lot. I’ve cried a bit. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve loved every second. I thought I’d share a happy post kind of thing about all of the things that have happened in my first half of my NQT year. Don’t get me wrong there have been some tough moments, but I’m all about celebrating the good.

So here goes, happy memories of my first half of the year:

Being poorly and my kids listening. Working with my brilliant colleagues. Every time we receive a letter from an author and seeing their joy. Singing Livin’ on a Prayer at the school disco. Watching my kids at the Christmas play, having worked their arses off for 3 weeks of rehearsals. Pictures and poems “for you Miss”. “Miss, can I show you this I did last night?”. Watching them go home at night with smiles on their faces. Delivering two whole school collective worships and them just being brilliant humans. Seeing them start to share their opinions. Watching them grow in confidence and comfort. The amount of progress they’ve made in half a year. Working on Greek myths with them. The confidence with which they use mathematical vocabulary. Putting up my first Christmas tree. The sheer dogged determined-ness of some of them. Their brilliant attitudes. Asking them what my 3 most used phrases are and laughing at their responses. “I love being in your class Miss, you’re dead funny… sometimes”. How quickly they embrace change. Learning Mandarin together. Having an opinion that is not only listened to but encourages. Making mistakes and learning together. Building our very own Nowhere Emporium. Watching them create their own dance routines and seeing some of them just shine. Seeing their enthusiasm for EVERYTHING. Encouraing them to question everything and watching them get to grips with it. Their incredible resilience. Their love of singing. Listening to the radio. Every time they catch me out. Saying good morning every single morning. Every time we have laughed together. Having 200 children sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me. Seeing them take on some BIG questions and embrace it. Looking to the future. Talking about books and them devouring everything. Meeting Lisa Thompson and my kids’ faces just lighting up. Challenging myself. Challenging the children. Positive feedback about my books. Struggling. Knowing I work with some of the most brilliant people. Growing as a person and a teacher. Laughing about dating advice. Laughing in the staff room. My terror every time I’m observed. Constantly learning and striving to be the best teacher I can possibly be. Listening to new artists with them. Story time. Hearing lovely things about their progress. Seeing their progress with my own eyes. Knowing that every day I get to go into work and work with them. Challenging their thinking about themselves and others. Allowing them space to be who they are, without judgement. Being the teacher I am, without them judging me! Listening and being heard. Allowing reading and writing for pleasure to be a thing, and for them to ASK for it. Going in every day and smiling.

I am grateful EVERY SINGLE DAY that I get to do the one thing I know I was meant to do for the rest of my life. Bring on the second half of this year – whatever challenges you have to throw at me, I will embrace them. Year 5 and I will get through them together. 

Blackout poetry

To coincide with National Poetry Day, we celebtrated at school with Poetry Week, where our English lessons all centred around poems. We in Year 5 had already done a week of poetry (it’s what I started the year with), so when it came round the celebrating Poetry Week, the kids were enthused to say the least! They have boundless energy about everything, with poetry being no exception. We have tried to incorporate poetry into EVERYTHING… I am often asked “Miss, can I write a poem?” and I always encourage this… write creatively my friends!

One thing I’d seen flying around the internet in particular was blackout poems. I was a bit tentative to start and thought long and hard about how we could POSSIBLY make it happen. After mulling it over since the beginning of the year, (I had wanted to do it during out first week) I bit the bullet and started to plan a one off lesson as part of our school Poetry Week.

To the kids, I posed the question

“What do you think blackout poetry is?”

and we got some brilliant answers:

  • It’s a poem that describes the night
  • It’s a poem about the war
  • A poem that’s only made up of black and white pictures
  • A poem written on black page and the writing is made of only white words

Then, I showed them some examples that I found on Google:

Their reactions were amazing. They were astounded by these, with one boy saying “Miss, they’re not even poems“. We talked about what the poems might be about just on first glance and talked about how we knew that.

Then I explained to them their task: they were given a page of our class novel Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Milwood Hargrave and they had to create their own piece of blackout poetry based on the page they were given. They had to think about the words they chose and the illustrations which they paired with the words. Some of the children struggled at first, but once they’d had some time to reflect and look at the models again, they had a very good go.

In a one hour lesson, we didn’t all finish. Some of the children were so enthused and loving it so much they even wanted to stay in at lunchtime to finish! I’ve made time next week for them to finish, as I think the finished products will just look incredible.

Here is an example of 4 of the finished ones. I can’t wait to see them all when they’re finished!

Once they’re all finished, I’m going to make them into a book!

My Year 5 class LOVED this and the finished products look amazing. This is definitely going to be a lesson that stays in my arsenal for my future poetry lessons!

Did you enjoy that tale from my classroom?
Do you want to see what else we get up to in Year 5?
Have you any requests for things to see?

Let me know your thoughts on the poems so far, my kids would love feedback!

S x

NQT life

Well hello,

Here I stand, 3 weeks into my NQT life and what a ride it has been so far. There have definitely been more ups than downs (I’m not even sure I’d say there’s been any downs so far). I am learning so much every day. I can’t wait every single day to get into the classroom and get started.

The only wobble I’ve had so far was when I was asked when I could be observed. (I knew it was coming, but the DREAD I feel is real). You’d think having been observed weekly (sometimes twice weekly) last year, that I’d be used the observations, but no. I still get uneasy around them. I think it’s the “judgement” side of it. This is the only job I want to do, in fact I know it’s the only thing I want to do for the rest of my life, so to hear that I’m potentially not doing brilliantly terrifies me. I’m a perfectionist and a bit of a control freak, so yeah… that’s something. Don’t get me wrong, I know I can’t be perfect all the time. I know this. I’m one of these people who doesn’t believe there’s such a thing as an outstanding teacher… I just think there’s teachers who can teach outstanding lessons and for me that’s a MASSIVELY different thing. No one’s at their utter best ALL THE TIME. That’d be exhausting. (I’m rambling now, sorry guys)

I still have to pinch myself that yes I do have my own class, I have my own kidseverything that goes down in that classroom is our doing: me and my kids. It’s still quite a surreal feeling. But it’s also bloody incredible. Having worked for SO MANY YEARS to get here, getting here is taking a bit of processing. There are days where I still feel like I’m “playing” at being a teacher and that someone is going to come along and just burst my bubble. I think that will take a while to get rid of tbh.

It’s a brilliant thing reaching your goals, but there’s always more. However, for now, I’m celebrating where I am. Now that I’m here I want to be the best I can beit’s what I deserve, it’s what my kids deserve, it’s what every single person who believed in me deserves. The hard work isn’t over yet, it’s just started in fact. I’m here, with my own classroom, but this is only the start of my journey. I’m on this amazing learning curve with this amazing bunch of kids and a brilliantly group of staff who are supporting me and I genuinely couldn’t feel any luckier. I am learning from the kids, from myself, from all of my colleagues. I think that’s something I’ve always strived for… to never stop learning. I’m in a profession now where that’s something that will happen. I have to keep learning because EVERY SINGLE DAY is different. 

It’s quite lush sitting in my classroom at the end of the day and thinking about what’s happened through the day. The amount of progress I feel my kids are making is just lovely. Their enthusiasm, their determination, their resilience astounds me so much. There’s something very special about that enthusiasm and excitement of learning that I hope they never lose. For me, it’s those moments.

It’s that little girl’s face when she made the connection between the purple bird and the boy’s purple pen in Journey; it’s another boy’s face when he used incredible mathematical vocabulary to describe a process; it’s seeing their faces when they finally hit their goal having struggled a bit; it’s the YET about all of it.

Seeing the tiniest and biggest bits of joy that make it worthwhile for me.

I love my job. It’s not all plain sailing. But I’m not here to whinge. I’m here to be thankful and celebrate everything that’s happened so far.

I feel lucky every single day that I walk though that door.

MY FIRST CLASSROOM

As many of you know,  I am FINALLY a qualified teacher and I have my own classroom, my own class… is it terrifying? YES. Was week 1 exhausting? Yes. Was it the very best? YES SO MUCH.

I’ve had so many kind words from everyone and it makes my heart so happy! Thank you everyone!

I put a poll out last week to ask who would want a little tour of my classroom and there was a resounding amount of you who were interested in seeing my classroom, so here we go!

First up we have my SMARTboard – where yes, I have lovely little lights around it. My kids absolutely love the lights. They tell me off if I don’t have them on. They’re not distracted by them either, which is super lush. We also have (when you first come in the classroom) a little display which is all about the different kind of person we are in the classroom. It’s so important for me that kids feel like the classroom is a place they can be whoever they want to be. I’m there to nurture a WHOLE learner, not just make them a more intelligent being.

My English wall is next up – I have some lush ideas for my English wall in the coming weeks. My pink little speech bubble is going to be where I write the topic/text type we are working on in that unit. The pencils are one of my favourite things in my classroom. I originally printed them from Twinkl to use as bunting, but I made them too small so I decided to repurpose them as display. My kids have already started using them as a reference point! The other display things are part of an incredible Word Gang, created by my friend Jack. You should go over to his website Verbivore Teacher to find out more about the Word Gang. I can’t wait to start using them fully in the classroom!

Then we have my whiteboard. On my whiteboard, there’s the date and my visual timetable (which my kids love!) which are both from Twinkl. I’m a massive fan of Twinkl for their display resources. There’s also a voice -meter, which I use to indicate the level of noise in the classroom. Next, we have my windows looking onto the yard with my “word of the day” sign (I will eventually be writing all of the words of the day on the window in trusty old chalk pens) and my YET posters which I created (and I’m not gonna lie, I love them!). The final picture is of my ‘I wonder…’ window. The children have the chance to ask questions about anything and I make time weekly to answer as many questions as I can. This will eventually become a science focused I wonder display, but for now, I’m getting the children comfortable with asking questions and being curious.

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This is my focal area. We have a prayer box which the children are encouraged to use when they want to pray for someone. We open the box and use these prayers during our class liturgy times. There’s also my noticeboard which will change weekly depending on the statement to live by for the week!

Lastly for now is my Maths area. Like my English area, the blue speech bubble will be used according to the topic we are covering. It’ll be used for a reasoning activity that the children will be encouraged to attempt. I created these “maths talk” speech bubbles for children to refer to when they are answering questions. Again, the place value cards are from Twinkl.

I could go on about my classroom for hours. If you have any questions about anything, or want to see more of something, let me know in the comments and I will certainly aim to help!

S x