NQT: First term complete as a ‘proper’ teacher

He’s slogged through observations and demanding lessons, but our NQT blogger still keeps a ‘sacred Saturday’.

PGCE-430x304I have completed my first term as a qualified teacher. It has been a hard slog, with a string of observations, 100s of lessons for 100s of pupils and about 100 evenings of lesson planning. I feel a great sense of accomplishment, having successfully made it through my first term as a ‘proper’ teacher (as some of my pupils like to put it).

In my last blog post, I talked about my goal of improving the efficiency of my lesson planning. In many respects I do feel I have begun to accomplish that goal as I now have my ‘sacred Saturday’ where there is not a book or lesson plan to be seen for the entire day. Lesson planning is now more efficient, with fewer late nights and panicked mornings whilst keeping my lessons of a relatively good standard. The balance between quality and efficiency is a difficult one to achieve as a poorly planned lesson can be quite demoralising when you walk out of it feeling that you have not done your best for your pupils. Despite this, caring that the lesson wasn’t a great lesson is an important step in itself, allowing me to reflect and try and improve for the next lesson.

Recently, some PGCE students have joined the science department, bringing back memories of my last year. It came as a surprising reminder of how far I have come in a year, coping (just about) with 7 classes, a form class and direct responsibility of the progress of my pupils. It will be fascinating to see what progress I will make by this time next year, when I will be sharing horror stories with a fresh cohort of newly qualified teachers.

I look forward to the coming term and the fresh challenges it will bring. There are management changes within our department, which I’m sure will require the rewriting and redoing of many schemes of work and strategies. Already, I have a scheme of work (lesson plans for every lesson within a module) to write, something that I am very nervous about as all the other teachers will be expected to teach what I tell them to!

One of the highlights of last term was getting my science club into the local newspaper. After some publicity about the lack of uptake of physics by girls at A-level and beyond, the local newspaper was interested to find out what my female physics club was about. The girls were very excited to be interviewed and have their pictures taken and have it published in the paper for their families to see. However, they did not seem as keen for me to plaster the newspaper article around the department for all their fellow pupils to see!

Despite many misconceptions that females struggle with physics, statistics show that girls do just as well at physics at GCSE, yet seem discouraged from continuing it to A-level, which in turn reduces the number of females applying to do physics at university. Whilst many of my club members are still a long way from choosing their A-level subjects, I hope that the club will make a difference in the uptake of physics by girls. I hope that it will also teach me how to better impart physics to a mixed gender class. I will hold my hands up and admit that I’m sure I cater better for the male pupils, being a male myself, taught by all male physics teachers throughout school and university. I still feel I have a lot to learn to make my lessons engage both sexes.