Put a spring in your step

27th January 2006 at 00:00
After last term's physical endurance test, the spring term is about getting moving and, I hesitate to say it, enjoying the job. Many new teachers on The TES website are saying: "Love it, love it, love it." Dillsage says, "I'd almost forgotten how much I like my class."

The only trouble with this term is the weather. It's easy to succumb to depression when there's a constant gloom. Wouldn't it be nice to stay in bed on these grey, dingy, duvet days? I know the kids give you a reason to keep going but have you planned a trip for those lovely teachers' holidays? Now that's what I call a motivating, energising thing to do - getting the best deal is such a worthwhile challenge. Pop a picture of your destination on your screensaver and before you know it, the sun will be shining when we leave for work.

Most newly qualified teachers can't believe how much easier things are after the Christmas holidays. The worst is now over and the pace of this term is much calmer. Both you and the pupils can make heaps of progress without so many pressures and distractions.

Have you got a clear picture of how well you're doing and what needs to be better? The end of term assessment report should have detailed this. It's a good time to take stock and appreciate what you've learned and how far you've come on your journey to being the best teacher in the world. Maybe you've had to go off course from the way you want to teach for all manner of pragmatic reasons. Now is the time to plan where you want to get to and use induction to help you get there quickly. Maximise the use of your reduced timetable, observations and discussions of your teaching. Running clubs and taking other roles in the school can be tempting but leave them until your second year.

If the head and induction tutor have decided that you're not making satisfactory progress, you should get extra support and monitoring from the school and local authority to help you pass induction by the end of the year. Remember, that if you fail to meet the qualified teaching standards and induction standards by the end of the third term, you'll never be able to teach in the maintained sector and non-maintained special school again.

It's a crazy rule, but make sure you don't suffer these consequences.

Look at your induction entitlement: the 10 per cent reduced timetable plus planning, preparation and assessment time, individualised induction programme, half-termly observations, regular meetings with your induction tutor. Did you get it all last term? If not, make sure it happens this term - it's your professional responsibility to raise concerns before it's too late.

Watch out for people forgetting that you're still an NQT (you're so good) and leaving you to it. You need help throughout the year: push yourself and encourage others to do so. Alternatively, maybe you feel ready to do without some of the support you had last term, or to have something different. Be clear about what help you want and pin people down to dates.

Make sure that your programme is focused on what you need to get better at.

What are your objectives? Learn from how they went well last term. Many people don't meet their objectives, not because they're lazy or hopeless, but because the targets are too big or too numerous. So, this term, try to address just one or two areas at a time and make sure objectives are clear and broken down into bite-sized activities and specific support. Maybe this term you'll get into assessment more and have an objective such as "to improve how I use assessment to feed into planning". This might involve noting down how a couple of different pupils did in each lesson and adapting plans for the next lesson accordingly. You could address it in your marking by focusing on your main learning objective.

How many teachers have you observed since September? Whatever the number, try to see more this term. Watch those in your school, but get out to others too. Take full advantage of the professional development that's happening at school and beyond. Some places have a wealth of things going on.

Be a sponge: soak them up.

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