Reflection on my NQT induction year

I have had a rollercoaster of an induction year. I began the year expecting it to be very different to how it has turned out.

My induction year has taken place at the school where I did my first PGCE placement. I was offered the job before I left for my second placement after having a fantastic first term. I had a brilliantly supportive mentor who recognised my strengths and challenged me with new ideas, who unfortunately left at the end of the year when offered a promotion at another school. However, I looked forward to returning to this school to begin my induction year throughout the rest of my PGCE.

I began in September with lots of enthusiasm. I was convinced that I would maintain this enthusiasm throughout the year and would fly through it with minimal concerns. However, I came across some challenges quite early on in my first term. I was given a timetable that I hadn’t anticipated, with a significant number of KS4 and KS5 lessons teaching a subject that wasn’t my specialism and I wasn’t at all experienced in. Whilst I was quite negative about this at the beginning of the year, I have come to realise that getting experience of as many different things in teaching will largely only benefit you. I began to enjoy the variety in my timetable.

I have taught both KS4 and KS5 lessons in my specialist subject, which I have found both challenging and extremely rewarding. Whilst KS3 is my main time to experiment with pedagogy, I have relished the opportunity to teach exam classes, which is something that not all NQTs have the chance to do. Having the autonomy to teach new specifications has had the challenge of planning, especially when there is no one to share the planning with, however I have gained so much from this experience.

I had always kind of dismissed the idea that I may suffer from the NQT low mood that can sometimes hit, however I have definitely had periods of time when I have briefly questioned whether I can see myself in teaching for the next five years, or even in the next year. Luckily, these periods of time didn’t linger too long and I still love pretty much everything about my job. I have realised that it is important to recognise when you are struggling, with challenging classes or workload, and accept help and support when it is offered. I spent a lot of time worrying that I would be showing weakness or suggesting that I could not cope if I accepted help, however everyone needs advice or support, even the most experienced of teachers. I have now realised that this is a hugely important part of developing as a teacher and I have grown so much since being more aware of my limitations.

I have also realised that it is important to have that one person at work who you can go to to have a moan or who will share in celebrating your successes. I have built a friendship with a colleague who I admire, and I have learnt so much from their abilities and skills. They are a couple of years more experienced than I am, and share a lot of my values. They appreciate the creativity that can be brought to the classroom and are a font of ideas and inspiration. But they also always have time to listen if you need advice or just an ear to vent to. I have realised that having this one person is so so important.

This year has been challenging, but so rewarding. I have learnt to separate work from life and have developed so much as a teacher. I will be moving on in September to a new challenge as Head of Department at a new school and look forward to embracing the inevitable hurdles I will encounter.

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