There has been an awful lot of lists for going back to school on twitter and they all seem to have ten things to do. 10 ways to make the little blighters behave or 10 sensational ways to make a display wonderful or 10 ways to line chairs up to stop them chatting.
This got me thinking. Poor old number 9! Never quite enough to stand up to his older brother number ten. Even number 7 gets a good press. So here are my 9 things to avoid in your NQT year:
1. Don’t wear suit trousers for PE: I did once and was showing the children how to do the standing long jump. I was swinging my arms, flexing my knees and then… jump. I flew through the air and landed with an almighty ‘riiiiiiiiiip’! My trouser had split from my backside to my zip!
2. Don’t forget if you send a child from the class: In my NQT year, I once sent a child to stand outside the classroom to give him time out while I dealt with a behaviour issue from playtime which he was part of. This was sorted fairly quickly and the rest of the morning continued. I dismissed the children at lunch, marked some books and was on my way to lunch when a small voice said, “Can I go for lunch. Sir?” Yikes! I had left him outside all morning!
3. Don’t stay up too late: I had had an extremely late night one Thursday and going to school the next day was tough. Being at a catholic school at the time, we had mass in the morning. During the kneeling part my concentration went awry and I thought we were at the part where we were to stand up. So I did. And so did my class… mass stopped as a sudden realisation that I wasn’t concentrating hit me and we were not at the standing part. A church full of glaring eyeballs made me and my class sit down again.
4. Don’t be a slave to systems: sometimes, although others will argue, there are exceptions. As a young teacher, I felt it was important to hear what each child needed and give them my focus 100% while talking to them. While this is important, you have to have half an eye on the rest of the class. I was talking with a child and going through their work while a girl behind him was waiting. She was doing the toilet wiggle. I finished with the young lad and got to the girl, who had stopped wiggling. ‘Yes? How can I help?’ I said.
‘Oh, it’s nothing,’ she replied.
‘Do you need the toilet?’
And she didn’t. There beneath her was a puddle which I had to spend lunchtime cleaning because the caretaker wasn’t in. There are exceptions.
5. Don’t swim in the pool where the kids go: there’s nothing worse than a kid saying ‘Hiya, sir!’ as you are drying yourself.
6. Don’t yawn during staff meetings: not even those super sneaky ones where you imagine you look like you’re just breathing deeply and concentrating really hard. You don’t. You look like you’re suppressing a yawn! Your flared nostrils and narrowing eyes will give you away.
7. Don’t forget a child on a school trip: this one hasn’t happened to me… yet. I love taking kids on trips. You see them in a different light and they see you differently as well. It can make for the basis of great relationships. But at the top of my list for every trip is ‘have you got everyone?’ This relentless counting gives me a headache by the end of the day but ensures the trip is successful. What is a successful trip? One where you come back with all the kids you set off with!
8. and 9. Don’t take criticisms too harshly and don’t believe all the plaudits: a serious one to finish with. Listen to advice. Act upon it if it is good. Read more so you know the difference.
Oh, and don’t make meth with a student… Ah, crumbs… that’s 10 isn’t it…?