Starting a teaching career during Covid times
Across our family of schools we have eight newly qualified teachers (NQTs) this year. Some of these teachers have trained through the Rivers Teaching School and all are part of our NQT programme, which we run in collaboration with the University of Worcester.
Pictured below holding up three words to describe her training year is Chloe, one of our NQTs who teaches at St Clement’s CofE Primary School in Year 2. Chloe has recently been featured in our NQT newsletter and here are her thoughts on the first half term of her teaching career.
How has your first half term as an NQT been?
First half term has been good, but tiring! It’s been quite a whirlwind in the present circumstances. I’m lucky to have a supportive team who have answered so many of my questions. Despite working throughout the summer, I felt very unprepared and apprehensive to start the year since it had been so long since we were in the classroom properly. But I think we often surprise ourselves in new situations – we just have to keep adapting and finding new ways of working so I’ve done my best to stay flexible and positive throughout.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far?
Covid measures have created a lot more work for us all – from seating arrangements and praise strategies to breaktimes and singing restrictions. It has affected so much of our everyday, and many of my once-planned “first class-of-my-own” ideas have gone out of the window! Therefore planning has taken up a lot more of my time to adapt teaching and learning to this new way of working, which has increased the teacher tiredness.
The diverse range of needs in my class has made differentiation more challenging than anything I experienced in my trainee year. This, along with the Covid adaptations, has meant that I have spent a lot more of my time planning various activities and it has often been challenging as a new teacher to get to grips with everything at once.
What would be your top tip for other NQTs?
Keep asking questions! I have had many conversations where I didn’t understand what was going on. Don’t panic! It is sometimes easy for experienced teachers to forget the little things that they have always known and got used to, eg timings in the school day, conventions for reading diaries, particular playground rules or what certain education acronyms mean! Don’t be afraid to stop someone and ask for more guidance to ensure consistency and best practice across your school.
What have been your best resources?
Dienes have been instrumental in maths to reiterate place value to children who need to develop their understanding of place value.
Communicating effectively with colleagues to utilise the resources already in school so that I’m not wasting time making new ones.
Whiteboards and pens – I gave all of my class their own “welcome back pack” of equipment for Covid reasons, but also to encourage a sense of responsibility for one’s own resources and learning. Whiteboards are then used during any part of the day as required (morning starter/phonics/maths), without children having to move around the classroom and it also allows all children to take part. Win win!
Top tip for wellbeing:
Get enough sleep! I haven’t been very good at this with how busy it has been starting back. But it’s something I’m going to work on from half term!
I have been allowing myself to have Saturday away from any school work. Taking Saturday off means I have to pack everything into Sunday and then I always get at least one full day of downtime at the weekend. I would just work all weekend otherwise, so it’s a good strategy for me! That day to recharge is so important to start the new week feeling refreshed and on top.