Five years teaching and I’m still here.

I’ll be honest, it’s a fact I’ve never tried to hide, I didn’t think teaching was necessarily going to be for me.

I started my School Direct course with the intention of training, doing my NQT and then re-evaluating, knowing I’d have QTS if I wanted it in the future.

How unrealistic was that?! I soon realised that you wouldn’t stick it out past Christmas of the ITT year if you weren’t really into it, let alone all the way through to QTS at the end of the NQT year!

I thought now, at the end of my fifth year of teaching, the point by which many new teachers have left, seemed like an appropriate time to take a look at what changed my mind back then and what has kept me teaching ever since. I’m certainly not saying it’s been an easy ride though, you just have to take a glance at this post from my NQT year to see that. In fact, just looking at the posts tagged NQT shows quite the rollercoaster.

My first thought is that I didn’t come into teaching with a set image of what the job was. It wasn’t something I’d dreamed of doing my whole life so I hadn’t set the bar high in terms of expectations. I didn’t see myself as the next Miss Honey or expect to be inspiring every student to love Spanish, so I wasn’t disappointed when this wasn’t immediately the case!

My next thought is that I engaged with teachers outside of my school or training group from day one. I have no idea how I found out about Edutwitter, becuase it certainly wasn’t from my training provider, but it definitely deserves some of the credit. At times when I needed to vent twitter and my blog were there. In the most part I think the people I was training with were either unaware or uninterested so I felt a certain amount of freedom, my teacher training and edutwitter were pretty separate.

As well as giving me the space to vent/reflect on my blog, Twitter gave me a whole new community to engage with. Looking back I have found a post from when I started the #HappyNQT100 based on the concept of 100 happy days. These days my community comes more from #MFLTwitterati, #MFLChat and #CTeach, but whatever the group I think having people outside of your immediate circle of colleagues is really important. For perspective, sharing and of course, support.

Another thing that has made a difference to me has been continuing to learn. From the first ResearchEd I attended in my NQT year I was pretty sure I wanted to carry on and do my Masters, despite school colleagues at the time thinking I was mad. This saw quite the shift in what I was reading, something which I was pretty pleased with. My MA dissertation was the hardest and most stressfull thing I’ve ever done, but I was really pleased to finally be able to say I’d done it. Most recently I’ve been involved with the Chartered College and the CTeach, which I’ve already blogged about loads recently, so I won’t include that here.

Finally, I’ve known when to move on and havn’t been afraid to do it. I stayed at my first school for a year and a term, leaving because A level teaching was disappearing and I didn’t want to lose that experience. I moved to an all girls grammar school, becoming second in department there. I really enjoyed it there, having the freedom to make lots of changes and the trust of the HOD and the rest of the department to go with it. I also did a couple of terms in a pastoral role which was a great experience for me. I only moved on becuase I knew grammar wasn’t where I wanted to stay. Now I’m Head of Spanish in a large faculty of three languages back in a mixed comprehensive school.

So how do I feel embarking on my sixth year? I’m looking forward to it. I’m starting my second year in my school and that gives me a confidence that I’ve not felt in a while. I’ve had a year to settle and understand the school and am starting to imlement the changes that I want to see in the Spanish department. I also feel a little clearer about my priorities in my own teaching, although I’m sure this will all fly out the window quickly in September if I’m not careful! I’ve learned not to be overly ambitious and take on too much at once, but equally I know which opportunities I want to take on. Something new for me this year is leading a house as the school revamps the house system, I’ve been involved in a similar system before but being part of the re-launch of this one is exciting. I also think the CTeach has given me a clearer idea of the sort of role I would like in the future.

Five years in, still here and still a long way to go yet.

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