Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Letter to my NQT self

So then, Caroline, you didn't do your MA in English Lit despite confirming your place - good decision. Your PGCE will stretch your legs, brain and emotional capacity that have all, you will admit, become somewhat stagnated after three years of bumbling through an undergraduate degree (that seemed to consist of a bizarre mix of the study of British place names and Deconstruction theory).

The next 24 months will be a challenge to say the least. At first just the 6am wake ups will be a source of distress, leading to *that* incident when you fell asleep in the staff room. Then it'll be the workload, as you attempt to balance marking, lesson planning, and the usual excitement of being a 21 year old living in a bedsit in a bustling city centre. But try not to cry so much. The tears don't help: they distress those who care about you and ultimately you will survive, intact and a wiser, better person for it.

Take comfort that when that kid threw the chair it wasn't about you. The one who whispered the Head teacher's name under his breath as a threat to report you for some invented injustice? Still not about you. 
The sensitive one who didn't know how to make sense of her feelings of depression and hid in your room at lunchtimes? Like you, yes, but not about you. 

You'll soon realise that you were one of the lucky ones. You have two supportive, loving, wonderfully eccentric parents who have simultaneously made you feel like anything is possible and that the most important thing in life is being a nice person. That is heartbreakingly rare. Cherish them as well as the children who are not so fortunate. Children can be vulnerable for a host of reasons, and not just the one who have the label of 'Pupil Premium'. Care for them in their most frustrating moments and if you shout and they shout back at you learn from that.

Appreciate how young you are. Older teachers have experience far beyond your years. Respect SLT, even the ones who pass on unhelpful advice about getting up at 3am to work. They've earned their position and you don't yet understand the pressures and tensions they have to respond to on a daily basis. 

Similarly, don't judge other schools. You haven't got a clue about the difficulties of recruitment, complexities of catchment and budget, and healthy dose of luck that can bring about disparities in student outcomes. 

You picked your first school well. Ten years on, your HoF will continue to mentor and inspire you and you'll still be attempting to capture the spirit of mutual support and collaboration, only this time in your own Faculty.

And now, in the style of a certain Mr Springer, my final thoughts. 

It's hard. It's worth it.

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