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May 7, 2012 / mrespiers

Those who can’t…

I have neglected to post for a while and have gone for a lazy option of reproducing the following that first appeared on the Guardian Teacher Network in September 2011.

One NQT has left for a different career but the others have made excellent progress.

A fresh new post will follow soon.

Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian

Those who can, do.

Those who can’t, teach.

Those who can’t teach, teach teachers.

I have always found this to be over simplistic and I suspect routed in a little jealousy.

There are obviously a multitude of reasons why people choose to teach but I am fortunate to have worked with a majority of teachers who love what they do, or at least like it, or at the very least don’t hate it. So when I say jealousy, I mean jealousy from people who hate their jobs, jealousy of the holidays (obviously) and jealousy from other teachers who don’t get to teach teachers, because believe me it is one of the best parts of the job.

I am four weeks into my new job as assistant headteacher at the John of Gaunt school in Trowbridge and one of my responsibilities is for the induction of the NQTs. It is a role that I previously combined with the training of the PGCE, GTP and OTTs too and is a role that I have missed and that I genuinely love.

I love the enthusiasm and energy. I love the ideas and commitment and I love the way that these qualities often shake up the order of a school or a department. Some staff embrace the influx of the new, some shun it and mock its naivety with comments such as “that won’t last”, “you’ll learn” etc.

I love that they will try things without prejudice and support each other as they do.

I love watching them grow and develop seeing the impact that they have and the lasting relationships they form with other staff and students.

I have overseen the induction of some excellent teachers and some that would become excellent. I have also had to have some very difficult conversations.

I have worked with some incredible mentors who had never mentored before and some awful mentors who had been doing it for years. I strongly believe that the mentor is the most vital element of the first year. You could be in the most challenging school in the country and have an amazing experience with the right mentor and obviously the reverse is equally true.

I have observed lessons which sounded like there was a gas link – “ssssshhhhhhhhh”. I have seen NQTs sleep through their first day of induction after arriving late directly from Glastonbury. I have seen them literally fall flat on their arrival in reception and throw up at the Christmas do. I have seen NQTs get married, but not to each other, yet. I have met new babies. I have made some lifelong friends.

If you are an NQT, I wish you well and hope you enjoy the year.

If you are an NQT mentor I wish you well too. I know you are probably not given any protected time and certainly no money to do a vital role but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless.

If you are not an NQT mentor speak to somebody about becoming one, you will love it.

Please see my top tips for NQTs here on the Guardian Teacher Network

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