My name is Emily and I have recently joined the Thames Teachers team after graduating this summer. I trained as a Primary School teacher with an EYFS (Early Years and Foundation Stage) specialism and for the last three years I have worked across the Key Stages in London-based classrooms (including a rather unforgettable Year 6 placement). I live with three NQT’s who have all contributed to this post. It’s based on their own personal experiences during their first 6 weeks in the teaching profession.
Being a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) is an overwhelming experience; I currently live with three budding Primary Teachers who work across the Key Stages. As students, they went through a BED (Bachelor of Education) programme, studying for three years to develop their own pedagogy and gain experience across London-based classrooms. Now in their first teaching posts, it’s fair to say, as they head towards half term, there’s a certain relief creeping in, although looming observations are always a concern. NQT’s in their induction year are generally observed once every half-term, teaching one of the core subjects. My housemate Josh’s first observation with his Year 3 class, teaching Mathematics, was graded as ‘Outstanding’ (the highest possible) and I’m quite sure the joy on his face won’t ever go away.
My other two housemates are yet to have their observations, but are now counting down the days, stressed by the thought that maybe after three years training they still aren’t good enough (they definitely are!). Rules of induction years changed in 2012, meaning there is more freedom to schools to dictate when observations are, although all NQT’s must be observed every 6-8 weeks. Being an NQT, does mean 10% more time with PPA (Planning, Preparation and Assessment time), allowing additional time to prepare for lessons.
Behaviour management is the most common concern for 70% of NQTS (GOV, 2013) as Lily, my other housemate who’s a Year 6 Teacher is finding out! Lily is quickly learning effective strategies when dealing with challenging KS2 boys; her current system, is a coloured card for each lesson i.e. if a child ends up with more green than red cards, a reward is given, if not a sanction is put in place. On the other hand, Alex, a Year 1 teacher, has a happy rainbow and a sad cloud, recognising positive and negative behaviours amongst the younger students.
Technology is not only a growing tool within classrooms but a distraction. All 32 of Lily’s class have mobile phones, at the age of 11. That’s 32 mobile phones which are technically banned by school policy but 32 mobile phones which turn up every day. The class, who are spilt equally in gender, are all comfortable with their smart phones. The children are confident enough to text each other through lessons. Lily has introduced a ‘Telephone Tardis’ where she collects the phones at the beginning of the day and they ‘vanish’ away on a day’s time travelling.
In EYFS (Early years and Foundation Stage), the progression of technology has seen a change in ideology with tablets being introduced as a new sensory experience. Alex who works at a progressive primary school has seen his children’s interest in play and discovery learning fade with the introduction of the devices. The familiarity of using one at home attracts pupils but has meant a movement away from the outdoors with Alex’s pupils moaning about wanting to use the technology. The school policy means Alex has to incorporate the devices into his teaching regularly for a wide range of lessons. Alex has taken an unusual approach, the children last week engaged in an English lesson where basic words associated with using the tablet such as ‘tap’, ‘swipe’, ‘listen’, ‘look’ encouraged the pupils to use the object as an educational resource; it too helps children to develop their motor skills and useful apps can be used for Story time. For Alex, mixing technology with tradition is the way forward, taking children out of their comfort zone with the device is important, next week he plans to take the pupils to their outdoor space and use them to document the change in seasons. Technology continues to grow in UK classrooms; there is multiple research to support technology in classrooms but yet traditional methods are still well backed by government policy and academics.