Part 2 of my time as a teacher.
Rebecca Bamfield is a Recruitment Consultant at Fellows Finance. She has written this article so that you can learn a little bit more about her.
If you missed it, you can read part 1 here: https://fellowsfinance.com/site-news/299-my-short-career-as-a-teacher-part-1
The first day was daunting, what was I going to say to the 30 children sat in front of me? How was I going to answer their parents’ questions? There were always a lot of questions: Where does the book bag go? Can you save his snack money? What day is PE? Will they be sat next to their friend? How will I know that she’s ok? Can you give this medicine at 11:23am? You get the idea. I actually didn’t know the answer to any of the questions. Not one part of my mind had thought ‘oh I wonder where their book bags or packed lunches will go.’ These are the types of things that sent me into meltdown over the first few months.
I spent all of my nights planning lessons and putting resources together, I spent all of my breaks and lunches marking books. I didn’t have time to think about the little things. The only thing on my mind was surviving the week. It’s difficult to feel like you’re making any impact as an NQT. You literally go to work, teach lessons that in hindsight are actually not that great and for the remainder of the day you try to make sure the class like you while also trying to make sure they respect you. Not a good combination.
On top of the workload there are regular observations. Each time I was being observed I panicked for at least 3 days before. I would try my best to make sure all of the resources were ready and everything was thoroughly planned but I would still never feel prepared. The observations were usually by my mentor but sometimes the head would show up as a surprise – this just added to my stress. I suppose it was better not knowing he was coming beforehand so I hadn’t been feeling sick about it in the lead up. One of the regular comments that came from my observations was my classroom organisation. Classroom organisation? I’m the most organised person I’ve ever met (until I met my Fellows colleagues, Phillipa and Michele). My classroom looked great, I had interactive displays everywhere and everything had a place. They had a point of course – I could have had an easier way for children to get their books to make the lessons flow more but this didn’t seem a priority when I had 5,000 other things on my mind. After every observation until at least February I cried. Sometimes because it didn’t go well, sometimes because it went well and I was crying out of relief that it was over. There was one time that I was so distressed I actually had to sit in the staff room to calm down while someone else covered my class.
As time went on in year 3 I found more of a work-balance. Please do not confuse this with a work-life balance. I was still working every night until between 7 and sometimes 10pm, but in the classroom I had mastered the organisation. I marked books when the children were in assembly and only ever had to take extended writing books home to mark. As well as test papers. I once sat in a play-area marking 60 test papers in the school holidays. That’s one for the people who say ‘teachers have it easy, they get the holiday!’ *rolling eyes*. I had also formed a good relationship with my class. I didn’t panic as much on a morning going to school but I wouldn’t say I was ever looking forward to it.
As it was coming to the end of year 3 the all-important test scores needed to be in – obviously test results are the most important part of the year *rolling eyes again*. We had to present our data every half term. What is happening with child number 6? Why aren’t they meeting this target? How are you supporting them? I could actually answer the questions but it was always a nerve-wracking day for all teachers as they were never sure what they were going to be asked and how brutal it would really be. (I suppose it’s worth noting; if your class don’t achieve the percentages given to you earlier in the year, you’re not receiving your pay rise for the year.) It was also time for writing moderation – for year 3. I didn’t know until two days before that this even happened. All the staff looked through my writing books to decide if the children were below, at national or above national average. Of course, since I had no idea that year 3 spelling rules needed to be evidenced in their writing – they were all below average. Great! I spent the remaining 6 weeks stressing about that for no one to look at the books ever again!
A long year was finally over and I had completed my NQT year. I’d lost count how many times I had cried and my home organisation skills had gone to pot due to lack of time. After just getting my head around what I was doing, the head informed me that I was moving into Reception. I had no experience in Early Years. I accepted the news and actually thought I’d taken it well considering. There wasn’t as many tears while I was in Reception but the job was going to be enough to make me leave.
Part 3 is also available. You can read it here: