Preparing to start her NQT year, Georgina reflects on her time as a trainee teacher at The Hurlingham Academy:
After two weeks of the Summer Institute and an exciting few induction days at our placement schools, all of us United Teaching trainees were anticipating that first class with nervous excitement, flicking through the thousands of notes we had taken in the weeks leading up to the big moment. We each had visions of our first set of students leaving our classroom feeling elated and inspired by what they had just experienced. I think it is safe to say that the reality did not quite reflect this vision for a lot of us. I will certainly not forget one of the Year 10 students saying to me as she left the classroom, “Madam, you know we didn’t write anything during that whole 45 minute class. You hadn’t even put the date and title on the board.” A useful tip for future lesson planning!
What a year we have all had since then – one that I certainly wouldn't have got as much out of without the support of my subject mentor, professional mentor, and, most crucially, my fellow trainees. There is no denying that I have had moments where I felt slightly overwhelmed, as I looked at the three piles of books needing marking, realised four lessons needed urgent planning, and that I should probably be devoting a bit more time to writing my PGCE essay. However, for every lesson I walked out of feeling a bit deflated and frustrated as I felt I hadn't met the targets I'd set with my mentor, there were ten times more moments where I came out of a lesson feeling incredibly proud of both my own and my students' progress, and knowing that I would be very hard-pushed to find a more rewarding or fulfilling job.
As well as successes in the classroom, so many moments outside the classroom also helped shape my training year: on the Year 7 trip to PGL when the 'Beast from the East' decided to rear its ugly head for the second time, but didn't deter our students from building and mounting a raft on a lake in sub-zero conditions; in Black History Month when our Year 7 form group all wrote poems which they crafted into a 'tree of equality'; learning how to do the 'floss' dance in the front quad at lunchtime; visiting Disneyland Paris with the Year 8s on their trip to France; the inter-house competitions, which always got fiercely competitive; the Rewards Ceremonies at the end of each term, celebrating all of our students' amazing successes…the list goes on.
In terms of advice I would give to a future United Teaching trainee, one thing that we all very quickly learned was that the importance of staying organised and on top of our paperwork should not be underestimated. I always tried to file Triplets and other important documents as often as possible, to save having to do it all in a manic rush at the eleventh hour. Furthermore, a vital part of being a trainee is reflecting on which of the Teaching Standards you have met, or believe you have failed to meet, after each lesson and why. It was consistently going through this reflective process that really helped me to develop. Going to observe other teachers in my school as often as possible from a variety of different departments also really helped to give me new ideas and examples of best practice. Training at a relatively small school also allowed me to get to know other staff members really well, meaning that, as well as the other teachers in my department, I felt I could always go to them for their invaluable advice and support.
Going into my NQT year I know that there are still many areas that I need to work on, but I am incredibly excited about what lies ahead. The fact that I am now accustomed to how my school works, and that I already know so many of the students, makes the prospect much less daunting than it felt this time last year. There are ample opportunities in my school for Continuing Professional Development, which I plan to take full advantage of. Having some time off this summer to catch up on some sleep definitely doesn't go amiss either!