Light at the end of a dark Summer

I hope everyone reading this is having a lovely, relaxing Summer. I’ve almost finished up at work for the Summer and am looking forward to some free time before school starts.

Firstly, I hope this blog post gives hope to my fellow NQTs who haven’t secured a job for the year. As I said in my last post, and like many others I’m sure, I’ve been bracing myself for subbing this year, making lists of things I need to get and reading articles, lots of dos and don’ts! Then I got a call out of the blue from the principal of the school where I did TP telling me he had part-time mainstream subbing for me for a couple of months! Naturally, I was thrilled, especially as it had been so unexpected. It really is true what people say – things can turn around quickly for you in teaching.

I feel a bit spoiled because this will kind of ease me into teaching, as I can still make plans for a specific class. I am starting to get nervous now – the reality of it is slowly beginning to dawn on me. I’m happy knowing I’ll learn a lot and get a bit of experience under my belt. It’ll also give me the chance to get known in other schools from subbing on the days I’m not working, with the security of knowing I have a wage coming in every week.

I also think it’s important to point out at this juncture that lots of people rant and rave about nepotism and cronisim in the teaching profession – except when it works in their favour. As the principal explained to me on the phone, you’re going to ask in people you know. I wouldn’t have got subbing in that school if I hadn’t done a teaching practice in there.

So, in theory at least, all NQTs have to do is get known and try to make a good impression. I highly recommend having a look at the ‘Limerick Teachers’ facebook page for advice on this – they included some things that other Irish bloggers had failed to mention with regard to your years of service.

I really hope this has given some dispirited NQTs a boost. I know myself I was kind of dreading going into schools, the pressure of teaching in a strange environment and trying to navigate a different staffroom every day – hopefully I will get the chance to experience this on my days off! Keep going, make new lesson plans as if you are going teaching and gather your resources because you honestly never know what’s around the corner!

The Next Chapter

The summer is coming to an end and unfortunately I have not been lucky enough to secure employment in my county. As much as I would like to say I’d be happy to sub I’m really not sure if I’m comfortable with so much uncertainty. At the moment there are less than 15 jobs advertised in my county so the positive vibes are at a bit of a low. I’ve applied for everything, with only one interview but I won’t let it get me down. There are maybe about 4 people from my class that have work so it’s not just me which is somewhat reassuring.

I’m currently preparing to become the best sub around, I’ve read up on various sites what a good sub is and what teachers/school’s look for. I’ve bought and created little games and stocked up on various activities. There seems to be more learning support/resource jobs so I’ve researched a bit about what an actual learning support/resource teacher does. One thing that I would say about college is that I’m finished and I feel that I have so much left to learn, I hope that the next year will fill in some gaps.

Of course I could move to places like Dublin or Cork to get a job or at least have more of a hope but I’d rather stick it out. Many of my friends are two or three years out of college and although it has been difficult for them they have something, nothing permanent but something.

Looking down the road is a bit trickier, I’m at the age now where I’d like to think about a home, marriage and motherhood. It’s hard to know should I wait until I’m permanent until I think about any of that. It wouldn’t look great if I became permanent and then got married/pregnant straight away so it’s difficult to plan for the future. I would also love a house of my own but I can’t secure a mortgage until I’m permanent.

Being completely honest there was times where I reflected on why I decided to become a teacher and put myself and my partner through such uncertainty but then I remember this is what I wanted, I’m really good at what I do and in a few years’ time this difficult time will all be a distant memory. Towards the end of this week I’ll pop into schools with my CV, fingers crossed!

Transition Day

So with a job organised, the wheels were truly set in motion for the big move to the UK. The agency organised for me to go back to my school in July in order to meet the staff again and to meet the class I would teach in September. I arrived at the school with a list of questions as long as my arm but the majority were answered without me even having to ask. I was panicking about planning and the difference in the curriculum (be thankful for strands and strand units!). But as an NQT, I am appointed a mentor to provide support and guidance through the induction process. My mentor provided me with vital information and as well as reassurance which helped me no end. Each teacher is given a slot in their timetable for PPA (planning, preparation and assessment time) in order to help with their existing workload. I will be entitled to that as well as an additional slot for NQT time in order to further relieve the workload. Music to my ears!

Before the holidays begin, the school has a ‘Transition Day’ where each class spends the morning with their new teacher. The head teacher had asked me to prepare ‘getting to know you’ activities to do that morning and I enjoyed it immensely. When I gave the children an opportunity to give me advice about living in the area, they made sure I knew there was a McDonalds nearby but also suggested some tourist sites I might like to visit. I couldn’t help but laugh when one child asked if we had electricity in Ireland. I played games which allowed me not just to get the children, but them to get to know me also which I feel helped a sense of trust to start developing. I also created a worksheet to provide me with information about how the children liked to learn, e.g. I work best sitting at my desk, yes or no. As well as meeting my class and my mentor that day, I also met with their current class teacher in order to learn some more about the children and the various supports that they might need.

That night back at the hotel, I was once again filled with a mixture of anxiousness and excitement. And tiredness. Can’t forget the tiredness.New terminology and unfamiliar acronyms floated around in my head. After a few deep breaths and comparing notes with my friend who had also been given lots to think about, I thought aboutthe promises of support my mentor (and many other staff members) had given me and hoped it would all eventually fall into place. The information I had received was important and valuable so I took to my journal when I got back to Ireland to try and make sense of it all.

After the transition day, we headed straight to apartment viewings as it was something we wanted to organise sooner rather than later. The following day, we found an apartment we adored and we collected the keys this week. The ferry is booked so we will be setting sail in 2 weeks.

The next step is to get planning and organising my classroom and displays. Wish me luck!

Jayne