Despite a chaotic and challenging career start in a troubled school, Secret Teacher is sticking with it. This is an extract from the Guardian…
I’m not sure how I did it, but I just about survived my NQT year.
It all started last September; there were six candidates sat quietly round a board table. Everyone was tired after a full day of interviews. But it was all over; the final interviewee had been offered the job. The rest of us were desperate to head home for a consolation glass of wine.
What happened next was unexpected. The successful applicant turned down the job on account of the chaos we had witnessed throughout the day. Suddenly I was a full-time teacher. One lad popped in (through the roof tiles) to say hello. Another threw a piece of soggy toilet roll in my face as I shook hands with the head.
The next month was a blur. There were no lesson plans, no behaviour system, and no consequences or rewards. In fact, come to think about it, no classroom, due to an unfortunate incident with a fire extinguisher and a year 9. As a result, I spent a month in a basement computer room with no internet access.
By late October, Ofsted had put the school into special measures; the governing body was “disposed of” shortly after and academy status was looming.
I could have been teaching brain surgery or advanced snakes and ladders for all anyone knew. Classroom doors were firmly closed and no one came near. There was no department that I could recognise. At one point, a technician unofficially taught year 11 for at least a month.
During November, the head was on a soapbox in the playground squawking megaphone orders in a high-visibility jacket. The concrete yard before her had become a riot scene. Teachers chased pupils who chased footballs and from a high window year 10 were not sugar-coating the facts: “If this was a real fire, we would have burned to fuckin’ death by now miss.”
The fire drill had not gone as planned; the new building’s narrow corridors could not handle human traffic in all directions and we had inadvertently “kettled” the pupils. Gates remained locked and the crowd had become so dense that getting through to unlock them was near impossible.
…But the pupils aren’t responsible for my traumatic year. They make me smile, fill me with pride and, on occasion, a flash of genius fills the classroom. They achieve against all the odds, and sometimes one of them will ask if I’m feeling okay. And yes, thanks to you, now I am. It’s a pleasure to teach, in spite of all the surrounding nonsense.
So, despite all the challenges and the chaos, when I received my letter confirming my successful NQT year, I knew I’d be going back. We now have a one-way corridor system and another fire drill scheduled. Let battle commence!
This week’s Secret Teacher works at a secondary school in the north of England.
Did you have any NQT experiences that could match or top those from Secret teacher? Please share in the comments or on twitter…