Relax. It's spring and you're loving it

10th January 2003 at 00:00
You've survived your first term, so ease into the next one by making sure you use your induction entitlement, writes Sara Bubb

Well done, you've reached January. Let's hope you've started the term refreshed, but you're not alone if it seems hard coming back from holiday. Don't worry, this term will be much calmer, and one in which children and teachers can make heaps of progress without too many pressures and distractions. The worst is over. Last term was an endurance test, but the spring term is about getting moving and, I hesitate to say it, enjoying yourself.

The journey to becoming a good teacher is a long one. Some parts will be smooth and fast, others slow and stressful; but you'll be advancing all the time, even if occasionally you're reduced to walking pace. Induction and professional development can help you to pick up speed. If you don't take advantage of what is on offer, it won't be disastrous - the classroom experience alone will be of benefit - but you'll only be moving slowly. Using your reduced timetable, observations and discussions of your teaching to develop professionally will get you speeding along comfortably.

Now is a good time to take stock of what you've learned. Perhaps you've had to veer away from your preferred teaching style for practical reasons - you've discovered that the children behave better in rows, for example - but that's not how you want to work in the long-term. Now is the time to refocus on your original aims and decide how induction and CPD can help you meet them.

Look at your induction entitlement. Did you get it all last term? If not, you need to make sure it happens this term. Alternatively, people may have provided good support in the first term but now forget that you're still an NQT (you're so good) and need help throughout the year.

Be sure about what support you want. Have you got a clear picture of how you're doing? Your end-of-term report should have detailed this. If the headteacher and induction tutor have decided you're not making satisfactory progress, it isn't the end of the road. You should get extra support and monitoring from the school and local authority to enable you to pass the induction standards by the end of the year. But it's a warning that you might end up failing after three terms, and that means you'll never again be able to teach in the maintained sector or non-maintained special schools. It's a crazy rule, which has ended the careers of 74 people in the past three years.

Most of you will be making satisfactory or better progress. You won't be stuck here for ages, but will continue to develop. You'll always be thinking about what's going to help you be a better class teacher. Don't get distracted from this complex and important journey. Supervising clubs and taking other extra-curricular responsibilities can be unnecessary and time-consuming diversions.

Make sure your development programme is individualised, is focused on what you need to get better at, and has the right balance of support, monitoring and assessment (see my suggestions above). Make sure your objectives are clear, and broken down into bite-sized activities and specific types of support. If necessary, get help from the assessment co-ordinator.

Take full advantage of all the CPD available at school. It could be the new pair of tyres that gets you over the finishing line.

Sara Bubb runs courses for NQTs and induction tutors at the Institute of Education, Lewisham, Lambeth, Greenwich and Jersey. Her latest book Improving Induction: research based best practice for schools is published by RoutledgeFalmer priced pound;19.99.

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