Getting over a Teach Meet Phobia

I attended my first Teach Meet this evening, and forced myself to present at it. The end.

Kidding! Ok, this is difficult for me to formulate into sentences so stick with it.

I presented about using feedback- something that I am particularly passionate about- and how useful it is to find a way of making the time to be individually involved with each students’ progress when it is impossible to have that dialogue sometimes as a secondary teacher. It was a topic that I felt was a little safe for me, and next time I will definitely be a bit more all-guns-blazing instead of being massively intimidated by the big room of scary grown up teachers.

My Prezi failed, I fumbled through with a scrap of paper and my old biddy memory, and things were fine. However, I didn’t feel particularly fine about it. It made me go away and question why I had chosen that particular subject when there were so many pretty things that I am currently doing in the classroom that I could have talked about.

I wanted something that everyone could relate to, and accommodate. I realised how difficult it is to stand up and share with people that have been in this profession a long time, but also people that use social networking and conference situations to share and utilise skills. It was an incredibly intimidating process to speak to people that I feel already know so much more than me, and having already discussed with departments, I always get that internal niggle that I am preaching to the converted.

However, it made me realise how genuinely committed teachers are about their profession, and how lucky we are to be working in an industry that supports one another so whole-heartedly. The feedback I got was both constructive and positive and it has definitely spurred me in to be more brave when approaching a presentation in the future. This job requires so much self-criticism that your inside voice goes into overdrive and you simply assume that everyone knows what you know.

After working in Industries that encourage the failure of others in order to achieve success to an extent, I think it has unfortunately left me with a suspicion that teaching is finally breaking down. We are lucky to be part of a network of people that are actively striving for one another to excel and that is both a rare and fabulous thing.

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How to Survive NQT- so far..

This may be a little instructive; apologies, I don’t mean to preach. It is more an attempt to pass a little wisdom on, because I wish that I had had the generosity of pretty golden tips.

Take this as a bit of no-frills detail from a lass that has a four year old child to single- handedly manage, and her own conscience constantly wanting her to be the best teacher she can be at the same time- occasionally pausing to sleep and eat, of course.

Buy a slow cooker. You laugh- I can see you- but there is nothing like the smell of dinner when you walk through the door on Friday to make you even a title bit happier about the weekend than you already were when the bell rang. Happiness is stew. And dumplings. Always dumplings.

Put your clothes out, like you do for the small people of the house. You are equally as disorganised as a four year old at six thirty in the morning.

Buy toiletries like there is a war on. Err is nothing more annoying than running out mid week and spending thurs and Fri wondering if you smell just as pretty as you did on Monday. So my friend told me anyway….

Vitamin C. Top drawer.

Buy dried fruit in buckets. Weird I know, but it means you will be eating a tiny bit of healthy every day, and it will make you feel a bit more like a human being. If you have a small person, buy 100 raisin boxes, and then eat at least 50 of them.

You cannot do everything. Do what you need to do. NEED. Me? I NEED to have my lessons for the next two days, and my mark sheet up to date. Choose the priority of your classes before you take the luxury of your own OCD panics. That isn’t a dig- I have OCD panics. I’ve learned to ignore them.

Restrict your work time at home. I know, I know. I hear your wails of despair! It IS possible. I will get to this in more detail, but you must must must choose a time that no matter what happens, you do not work. The sky won’t fall in, promise.

Do a fun thing at school once a week. It doesn’t have to be a structured extra curricular thing; I played word games with my tutor group at lunch last week. Just one fun thing makes your week sometimes.

Find what works for you. I cannot tell you when to do what, I can only tell you what I do. I only mark at school, ALWAYS. This is because it gives me the sense of urgency and motivation that I need to plough through 30 PEE paragraphs without considering lying down in a busy road, and it takes me a third of the time to do it. This doesn’t work for everyone… I plan in school after the bell (my own invented rule, OCD) and on a Saturday morning so that my brain doesn’t tick over work for the rest of my weekend. I stay late one night a week to ensure books don’t come home. You will find your own routine. Don’t try to create a timetable; it will only make you feel disheartened when it doesn’t go to regimented plan EVERY SINGLE WEEK. You’re a teacher! Every week is crazy in a different way! Your working schedule needs to appreciate that in order to work.

Get into bed before 9pm at least once a week. It’s the best ever. Ever.

Think of yourself as a differentiated student. Make resources or do the low- order stuff when you know you will be most tired. Don’t put expectations on yourself to mark things when you’re exhausted; again, the whole disheartening thing.

Keep a good thing jar. When you have those fantastic lessons that you wish someone was in the room for, or when a child makes your day, write it down and put it in the jar. On the days that are not so full of good things, it will really come in handy.

Plan Christmas. Buy yourself a present and wrap it. DO NOT ruin it for yourself by having it early. What would Santa say?

Reflect. This is SO important and will eventually reap rewards without you realising it. Every Friday for ten minutes, write out a sentence in your planner (I use a reflection sheet) for each lesson. Focus on one thing you want to achieve with that class the following week.

See a normal non teaching human once a week! They refuse to listen to you babble on about educational rubbish and insist that you discuss shallow celebrity news and whether you’re too old to crimp your hair.

Write your to do list on your whiteboard/desk for the next day before you leave school. It’s like mentally dropping all those racy thoughts at the door and will trick your brain not thinking you are prepared for Wacky Wednesday or Cut-Throat Thursday.

Don’t beat yourself up. Everyone is having the same rollercoaster as you. Promise. Talk to other NQTs for confirmation that I am 100% right on this. I love being right. Please, tweet me about how right I am.