Back to School!!!
The YBTN team has written this blog post to give all teachers, especially trainees and NQTs out there the best possible advice for the start of the new academic year. We’ve also highlighted what we all can do within our school communities in light of the BLM movement.
We hope you’ve enjoyed your summer holiday, you’re well rested and ready to get back into the classroom. Hopefully this will bring back a sense of normality again, despite living through unprecedented times and we hope the advice we give will ease you into the new academic year and help you throughout.
Advice for Trainee Teachers:
· Down time is important! Make time to see your friends and family. It’s an intense year but don’t forget to take care of yourself.
· You never know where opportunities may lead you, if there are opportunities to organise or participate in events take them on (time permitting) and include everything you do in your learning journal, no matter how small you think it may be!
· TES is your best friend, there are loads of free resources that you can edit and make your own to suit the needs of your students. That will save you time on planning
· Get a hard drive and don’t be shy to ask for resources from your colleagues.
· Be open to trying new things but also have confidence in yourself and your own ideas. Keep remembering if you can get through this year whilst writing essays and planning, every year after will be much easier.
· Always ask questions and seek support when necessary. Use your spare time to observe teachers from different departments for good practice.
· Prioritise your time and do not be afraid to get things wrong and fail. In that failure, you will find those opportunities to find out more about yourself, carve out your teaching style and pave your own professional career in the way you want.
· Try to cultivate time for your own professional development and networking outside of your organisation’s expectations/ training schedule. It’s important to learn from others and make connections. Save everything and back it up twice!
· Organise yourself ! Buy a diary and write everything down. You will receive a lot of information in your first year and will have to attend a lot of training. It’s impossible to remember it all so a diary/ notebook is always handy. Try to keep one for the whole year.
Advice for NQTs:
· Evidence, evidence, evidence! Stay on top of your portfolio. Write down any feedback and make sure you read over it and implement it into your next observation.
· Make good use of training, development and networking opportunities
· Have a subject based mentor and a mentor in the area you’d like to progress in. It’s never too early to start thinking about your future
· For secondary school teachers, get experience in teaching A level in your subject area if you didn’t in your trainee year. Ask to observe A level lessons and eventually teach a couple of lessons yourself. This will help you to expand your portfolio when you want to apply for another job.
· Believe in yourself, don’t let being a NQT hinder you from asking to do more to further your experience and career
· If you haven't got a Year 11 class, use the time to attend and help out with exam interventions/marking of GCSE mock papers with fellow teachers.
· Do not feel you need to work every hour that God sends just to impress your school because you will experience burn out quick, fast and in a hurry. Pace yourself. The academic year is a marathon, not a sprint.
· Start to think about your career progression and get a taster of a range of different roles- department/ KS/ pastoral etc. Give to your school and get experience through voluntary roles, which will help build your CV. Go on as many trips as possible and get outside to do duty / speak to the students/ staff. It’s important to build your profile and confidence.
· Utilise the knowledge and experience of those around you. If you are lucky enough to have an additional member of staff in your classroom (TA, LSA etc) speak to them as more often than not they have a wealth of knowledge and experience that can benefit your practice.
· As tempting as it may be DO NOT SPEND YOUR OWN MONEY. The school has a budget for resources. Ask your head of year or person in charge of that area to order resources to support your lessons. You shouldn’t have to spend your own money.
Black Lives Matter:
A lot of schools have said they stand in solidarity with the BLM movement. Now that it’s not trending like it was a few weeks ago, hold your leadership team accountable and make sure they follow through on being diverse, equal, inclusive and equity is also very important. It’s not just down to black members of staff to make the school anti-racist. This is a whole school approach.
· Try to implement elements of Black culture through, books, poems, prominent black figures within your field into your long term plan. One month is not enough it should be ingrained in the curriculum.
· Encourage your school to implement a diversity team that encourages education on the BLM movement and why it is needed.
· You can form an Afro-Caribbean Society (ACS) for secondary students/staff to attend and hold discussions or plan events to bring awareness of black history and black excellence.
. Empower your black students and be the positive role model they need.
· Read widely and build your own knowledge of world history. Engage with a range of organisations/ people who are working for the cause. Try not to do all the emotional ‘heavy lifting’ and allow your organisation to also take responsibility
· Be the change you want to see, be seen and be heard. Keep inclusivity at your forefront, celebrate differences and promote change.
· Continue to push the positive narrative in your lessons
· in case you are unsure, research what you are concerned about before doing anything in haste. Join a union. Network with other black teachers and engage in conversations about this topic and their thoughts. Establish that relationship with someone you trust in the school before you act.
Always remember that the welfare of the students is priority. Ensure that the students emotional well-being are catered to as well as their behaviour and any personal support they may need. Usually they will come to you as a first point of contact when things are not going great or they are struggling with something. It is important to be there for them by guiding them and support them so that they have every opportunity to succeed in their education.
Wishing you all a great start to the new academic year.