NQTs are More Than Qualified to Teach in September
By George Cook, Geography Teacher
The last few months have been strange, stressful and weird for everyone but especially so for those in schools. March was one of the strangest months where one minute you were preparing for a big school event and the next you were preparing the systems for if there were widespread school closures. For trainees, one minute I was having an observation as part of the beginning of the final assessment processes and then three days later was the last time I would enter my home training school. I often think about what the last three months would have usually been like and how nice it would have been to have the usual end of term events that occur in schools.
During school closure, I have become more active on Twitter following what other professionals are sharing, looking for resources and completing online CPD. For the most part, it has been very useful and great to feel part of the wider teaching community. However, recently, some of the content has not been as supportive. Some tweets and posts on Facebook groups have questioned whether NQTs will be as ‘qualified’ or ‘ready’ as previous cohorts because of the reduced time in the classroom.
Whilst we have had less time in the classroom, we are still as experienced and ready to start teaching properly next year. I was teaching around a full trainee timetable at the time of school closure and was feeling more comfortable when I was teaching my classes. During school closure, I have continued with online learning with some classes as well as planning lessons in preparation for September. Alongside this, I have been improving my subject knowledge especially for A-Level, which will no doubt put me in good stead for September. This has been something that in all likelihood I would not have had the time to do if I were still in the classroom as usual.
The CPD I have completed has also been incredibly worthwhile. I have undertaken courses on metacognition, assessment, differentiation, specific strategies for geographical teaching and using technology in the classroom. The Teach Meets from the RGS and other associations have also been really useful to network and connect with other teachers from across the country. Personally, I have started to write about my teaching experiences and this has helped formulate and increase my reflective thoughts about my practice, which I believe have made me a better teacher. Even though it was a not normal end to training, these experiences have all been beneficial and have improved my practice.
Seeing the posts about ‘inexperienced’ NQTs was disappointing and is worrying that some ‘high-profile and ‘prominent’ members of the teaching community think this way. However, I know that during the last few months I have tried to be resilient, positive and hard-working, and these are some of the core characteristics all teachers need to succeed in the profession.