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Please tell me teaching gets better?

Discussion in 'NQTs and new teachers' started by BiologyTrainee, Sep 30, 2018.

  1. BiologyTrainee

    BiologyTrainee New commenter

    I was graded 'Outstanding' in my PGCE year and I enjoyed it (I think - although right now I can't even imagine how I ever enjoyed this). During my first placement I had two interviews and got offered both jobs - one at a school I loved, but where the staff seemed miserable and another where I didn't like the school as much, but that had incredibly supportive staff. I went with the supportive school and was able to do my second PGCE placement there.

    However, since starting in September I have hated it. I don't feel like my students are learning anything in most of my classes because of their behaviour and I can't keep up with all of the things the SLT want us to be doing in lessons. There are so many things that the SLT disapproves of during lessons and I can't balance it all at once, even if the students were behaving. This isn't even a bad school and is often praised for the excellent behaviour of it's students so I feel really awful that I can't manage them.

    Some students just don't seem to care about sanctions and I just don't know what to do after giving them a detention (sometimes within a few minutes of the lesson starting) because I've been criticised for sending kids out of the class and it just feels so hopeless that things will ever get better. I think I could be a good teacher and I've been told my questioning is good, but I just can't do it while controlling behaviour.

    I honestly thought things were getting a bit better, but all my feedback has mentioned that it's not good - it's just so disheartening to see that nothing I do seems to be working. My (lovely) HoD has been great at giving advice (although some I just can't make work no matter how much I try), but I was told last week that I need to start taking control of my own classes so I feel really put off asking for more help.

    I am a few weeks away from (hopefully) buying my first house, which is making everything so much more complicated. I can't quit until we have got the house because our mortgage is dependant on it and then I'll need to find a job that pays enough to cover the repayments. I hate where we live currently and struggle to relax there so I'm trying to convince myself this house will make all the difference and allow me to love teaching if I have a home to go to in the evening.

    Some days are okay, but most days I just can't see myself lasting the year. My department is incredibly supportive and I don't want to let them down by leaving and I feel bad for leaving the students who want to learn, but I know at the moment I'm failing all of them. I haven't mentioned how I feel to anyone at school because I just don't know how to bring it up.

    I don't know if I enjoy teaching anymore, but I know I hate teaching at this school. I just wish I had taken the job at the other school because the one class I like teaching is similar to the classes at the other school. I'm just worried that this job has taken away the enjoyment I had for the job forever. What school would want to hire someone who quit in their first term of teaching?

    I'm dreading tomorrow and will probably spend this evening in tears as I have every Sunday since the start of term. I don't want to spend tomorrow morning thinking about how I can hide from my classes - praying for something to mean school is cancelled for the day. I can't quit without another job to go to and I don't want to end up at a school where I'm more miserable than I am now.

    Does it really get better? If I quit, what job could I even do where I could get paid as much as I do now? I'm just feeling so lost :(
  2. teselectronic

    teselectronic Occasional commenter

  3. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    It does get better.

    The first term, even the first year in any school (no matter how experienced you are) can be hellish. It's something I wish I'd known when I started.

    That said, there are schools which will always be hell to work in for one reason or another and, even if it gets better, it might not be better enough. Whether your school is one of those or not I don't know BUT if you found staff there to be generally happy and supportive then there's reason to be optimistic.

    I hope things work out - the Sunday evening despair is an awful feeling. But remember you can always apply elsewhere.
  4. border_walker

    border_walker Lead commenter

    I don't believe that grading trainee teachers as outstanding does them any favours.
    If there are behaviour issues, then you need to consentrate on these first, rather than the lesson content.
    It does get easier, but you need to learn how to make shortcuts. Don't assume that every lesson will be good, if you do you will come out feeling a failure.
    Northern_Miss likes this.
  5. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    It does get better when you leave the UK and go and teach in an international school, BiologyTrainee. If you teach in an international school, then the school usually provides you with a free apartment and so you do not have to worry too much about getting a huge mortgage etc.
    Shedman likes this.
  6. BiologyTrainee

    BiologyTrainee New commenter

    Thanks for the advice everyone - it’s comforting to hear it gets better :)

    I’ve had a better week so far today in terms of how I feel, but I feel my teaching has become worse. I guess it’s just finding the middle ground.

    I’m going to get to half term and really focus on getting next term right, if I still hate it then I think I’ll reconsider teaching.
  7. mishelli1990

    mishelli1990 New commenter

    Hi, I am an NQT too and I am experiencing the same types of issues as yourself. I feel like my training has not prepared me for the reality of teaching and I myself am considering taking a step away from teaching after this year.

    I think it is great that there is so much support from experienced and new teachers on here, but it all seems like temporary fixes and coping methods, which worries me so much.

    I hope that this year gets better, and we can both get through our NQT year! :)
    JohnJCazorla likes this.
  8. rugbylovingmum

    rugbylovingmum New commenter

    It does get better! I'm not sure how it happens but it does. I started my NQT year last September and I really struggled with behaviour. Two classes in particular reduced me to tears on more than one occasion (not during the lesson or in front of students luckily). I am in a good school and working in a very supportive department but I still found it really tough. Managing the planning and marking plus the data, all the new systems and paperwork as well getting to know 200 new students took it out of me and by Christmas I was seriously thinking about handing my notice in but I stuck with it and it gradually got easier. I got a lot of help from my department and I can't tell you how important it was to have a HOD who, at the end of a terrible day, would tell me that I was improving and that she had complete confidence in me.

    I've just started my second year and it is so much easier. The students seem to see me as a real member of staff now and I am much more confident in setting out my rules and applying the behaviour policy. I already knew around half of my students on the first day back, either because I taught them last year or through helping out on trips and with the school play. That makes a big difference too. Strangely it occurred to me today that, although I still have a couple of difficult classes, I don't have any classes I dread teaching this year. I feel as though I'm in control and I'm really enjoying teaching.

    I'd give it some time. It could be that the school isn't the right fit for you or it could be that you just need some time to settle in. I had a great mentor who said that if everyone is still in one piece at the end of the lesson and they have learnt something (even if it isn't much) then count that as a win - anything more is a bonus. Don't set yourself up to get everything right next half term as it won't happen. It's small steps and sometimes it goes backwards but then it starts to click. If it helps my KS3 pupils made good progress and almost all of my year 11s reached or exceeded their GCSE target grades despite me feeling useless at times. Good luck.
  9. BiologyTrainee

    BiologyTrainee New commenter

    Thanks so much for taking the time to reply. It’s good to hear I’m not completely alone this year - the other NQTs in my department seem to be doing really well. One of them even came in to help with one of my lessons - the support was lovely but made me feel even worse that every one else could do it but I couldn’t, so I really appreciate your message.

    I hope things start to look up for you soon :)
    mishelli1990 likes this.
  10. BiologyTrainee

    BiologyTrainee New commenter

    Thank you so much for this. I hope things will get better for me too.

    May I ask how you asked your HoD for help? I really really want some help, but I just don’t know how to go about it.
  11. balletomane

    balletomane New commenter

    I'm a new teacher too, and one of the best pieces of advice that my headteacher has given me is to remember that it takes two to tango. The success of the lesson doesn't just depend on the teacher. It also depends on the students. I think we're all susceptible to the idea that good teachers always have perfect control of behaviour and their pupils learn something game-changing in every lesson, but if we remind ourselves that kids are humans with their own minds and choices and less-than-helpful caprices rather than as empty vessels to be filled with water, it's obvious that this can't be right.

    I work in a special school for kids with mental health issues, and I usually teach students in pairs or 1:1. But I have had perfectly planned lessons with lots of exciting activities going down the drain because of the mental state those one or two students were in when they turned up to class. In a mainstream school you have about 30 different people in that room and there will be days when they won't be on board despite your best efforts. Maybe a few of them are coming down with a cold and they're feeling fuzzy in the head. Perhaps they've got all their most challenging and least favourite subjects timetabled for that day. (Looking back, I feel a bit sorry for my Year 9 chemistry teacher - we had double maths, double physics, and double chemistry all on one day, in a row, and he was the last teacher we saw. On a Friday. He must have hated us.) There are so many factors that will affect how engaged a class is on any given day, and you can't possibly control all of them. You just do the best you can with what you have.

    I know it's easier said than done (I've been beating myself up a bit today for lessons that didn't go well), but try and remember that you're still developing as a teacher. Five years from now you'll be much better at behaviour management than you are now. NQT year is called 'newly qualified' for a reason. It's not 'be the most expert teacher in the universe' year. :)
  12. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Teaching gets better (usually). The NQT year is tough.

    I am reminded of a conversation in my first department:

    Exhausted NQT: Does it ever get any easier?
    40-something: No.
    2nd year teacher: Yes it does. Last year I only socialised in the holidays, this year I manage to see friends at weekends, and maybe when I've been teaching as long as 40-something, I'll be able to go out for an evening midweek like she does.
  13. armandine2

    armandine2 Established commenter

    OP - there is a theme to your post: putting down roots.

    buying a house; I can't quit

    you could see 'taking control of the class' much like you would 'occupy your own property' - the difference being apparent in comparison with the previous situation of (for argument's sake) renting and doing supply/placements. So, start filling up the shelves - - - let them know you are there to stay.
    Northern_Miss and pepper5 like this.
  14. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Yes, teaching definitely gets better when you leave the UK and teach overseas.
    Shedman, ed717, pepper5 and 1 other person like this.
  15. SelectMyTutor

    SelectMyTutor New commenter

    First, you have to keep calm yourself and start teaching in a comic way. Explain the things with examples and old true stories. Your knowledge must be vast so that you can give a proper reply of student's queries. Also, improve communication skills for better teaching.
    pepper5 likes this.
  16. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    It does get better - but not easier
  17. thin_ice

    thin_ice Occasional commenter

    Perfectly put.
  18. ed717

    ed717 New commenter

    It does, if you go abroad :)
  19. mishelli1990

    mishelli1990 New commenter

    Hi, I have been looking abroad for next year, even if the school is an 'English' school, is it still better?

    Thanks :)
  20. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    Yes, better and easier. I am from a generation without NQT year and 10% timetable reduction and mentors; I was given next to no support or guidance and had to find out everything the hard way. I'd enjoyed my teaching practice but had had little independence then - very much doing what I was told by the teachers (which worked fine, even though they all wildly different ways of working).
    I've learned that detailed lesson plans are only really useful for the class clown to turn into paper darts: in the military adage, "No plan survives contact with the enemy." My plans vary from one line to a couple of pages, and the one-iner works just about as well. Over the years I've learned a lot more about my subjects, including the ones I've had to learn in order to teach them; I've learned a lot about managing other people (pupils and colleagues); and I've learned a lot about all sorts of technical stuff like dyslexia, lip reading, assessment, exams and so on. I don't think I could possibly list all this - but as it's been assimilated into my knowledge and understanding, I've become a better teacher. And so yes, it has got better.
    I've enjoyed being an NQT mentor, and also mentoring staff new to the school. I've managed to use some of my experiences to help - sometimes with behaviour or whatever, sometimes with lesson content, sometimes with admin, policies and procedures. As a new arrival, and perhaps in your first "real" job, you can feel vulnerable and lost. I think it's important that experienced and senior staff make a major effort to integrate the new members of the team; but it's also incumbent on the new arrivals to ask for advice, support and guidance when they need it and not to go for the stiff upper lip.

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