'One term in - and i'm helping other nqts'

23rd September 2005 at 01:00
Rachael Conley, aged 24, is in her second year teaching PE at Parklands high school in Speke, Liverpool, and has already been a mentor to trainees on teaching practice. She says she was influenced by her own happy experience of being mentored

I was lucky that both my mentors on my two teaching practices were really approachable, really helpful. One was at an upper school and the other was in an all-girls' independent school, so they were both very different experiences.

I definitely learned a lot from both of them. Some of my friends who I trained with didn't have such good experiences. One friend's mentor made her life a misery and she nearly walked out during her first teaching practice and gave up.

Because I'm an NQT, I wouldn't normally be given the job of mentoring, but our department is quite small and we were asked by the university to take an extra student on. I shared the role with the teacher designated as a mentor.

I'd only just finished my first full term of teaching myself. But just as my own mentors had been approachable, I made sure that even though I was giving the trainees criticism, I wasn't having a go at them - I tried to make it constructive, so that they always knew what they could build on.

I felt that because I was so close to having just been through the whole experience, I knew what they were going through. And I would give them little hints and suggestions, on how to tweak their planning or teaching to make sure they were doing those things right.

I have found being a mentor really valuable. Come September I'm going on a course, and will be the official mentor next year for when we have any students coming in.

Julia Kinvig, 21, is just starting at New Heys community school as a newly qualified PE teacher, and was one of Rachael Conley's 'mentees' last year.

It was a good experience. She watched a couple of my lessons and gave me feedback on good points and bad points. She always managed to find things I'd be able to improve on.

She would show us her NQT standards file and say "Look, this is what I did.' And it was really useful to have somebody who had only just gone through it, because there was recent information for you to look at.

Rachael was always very eager to get involved with the extra-curricular.

She showed me how to organise a charity swimathon that the school did, which was covered in the local newspaper. And she showed me how to organise getting permission from parents for extra-curricular sport.

The lessons Rachael couldn't watch because she was teaching, her colleague would watch - and she had been an NQT only the year before.

The pair of them couldn't have made you feel more welcome. If you wanted help you just had to ask for it. They both gave me their mobile numbers and said any time I needed help, just text or phone them up.

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