What a year it has been as Rahoo’s first Teacher Ambassador.
Our first ever virtual event for NQTs in January 2021, ‘NQT Fest’ was the highlight of my year. ‘NQT Fest’ was such an enjoyable morning, full of belly-laughs, thought-provoking presentations, interesting conversations and lots of learning. I have also worked alongside the fantastic principal, Niamh Cullen, on numerous occasions this year, including for our Féilte showcase, which was very exciting and also a huge honour. Throughout the year, I have delved into different topics in the ‘Dear NQT’ series through blog posts centred on assessment for learning, parent- teacher meetings, and of course, my move to teach in the UAE. Today, I am going to give you a little update on how things have gone for me since moving to Dubai and any last tips I have to wrap up my series.
Psst… Check out our virtual event for January 2022, Mná Fest HERE!
In August, I boarded the plane to Dubai to embark on a new adventure of teaching abroad. I was very nervous and went back and forth between regret and excitement. I was beginning to find my feet at home in Ireland with my job and I was also loving the social media side of the teaching Instagram community and things were going well. I had lots of collaborations that were making a difference and I was thriving doing what I loved to do most, both online and in my teaching job. Making the move was a huge leap of faith.
It took me a long time to feel settled in Dubai. I would describe the first few weeks, and even months, as turbulent. I had really good days and really bad days which I frequently communicated on social media. Dubai is an incredible place and I adore it, however coming from a small town in Ireland, especially during lockdowns, to Dubai, was a huge adjustment. It was difficult feeling the pressures to socialise, make friends, settle into a new job and new curriculum, find accommodation and set up my life there. I think it’s important to acknowledge how difficult this time was as I felt comforted through my social media page, where other expats shared their similar feelings and experiences with me and I knew this was ‘normal’ and part of the process.
However, four months later and I finally feel like I am beginning to get into a rhythm. I feel like the tough part is over, and I am looking forward to returning after Christmas more relaxed, experienced and rested. With these feelings comes the opportunity for me to have been able to reflect on the flight home to Dublin for Christmas as to just how amazing life has been since the 9th of August. I have never learned so much in such a short space of time in my professional life and career as I have since moving there. I have been completely immersed in a new curriculum, strategies, methodologies and new perspectives of looking at assessment and tracking pupil progress that I never encountered before. It has expanded my knowledge and also made me more aware of my values as a teacher that adores her job more than anything else. Before moving to Dubai, I was enveloped in imposter syndrome. I never felt able or competent enough to take on roles or responsibilities outside of the classroom, and now, a mere 4 months into my new job, I am Student Council Co- Ordinator, which is a huge feat for me in terms of my confidence and self-esteem. I have become more confident in my abilities and am learning to balance my responsibilities inside the classroom with those outside the classroom.
Psst… Read 5 Habits Women Need to Kick to the Curb HERE
I have never had a better social life! Every evening and every weekend, there is something to do and someone to do it with. The people I have met are my family in Dubai and we have leaned on each other over the past few months and supported each other through our journey. It is very special to have these connections and I feel extremely lucky to have the opportunity to meet other people with the same goals, ambitions and wants as I do. There is a wonderful feeling when you are in a room of expats. We are all feeling similar emotions. We all have the feeling of missing home, in whatever form it takes, dearly, juxtaposed with the feeling of wanting more from our lives at this time, while treating each other sensitively and with a familiar smile.
I have never travelled so much in such a short space of time! Since the 9th of August to the 9th of December, which is exactly 4 months, I have visited two amazing countries, Jordan and Egypt. Dubai is truly the most amazing travel hub as it took about 4 hours to reach both countries. I have learned so much about different cultures and about the histories of different lands, their people and traditions. Already, we have lots of travel planned for next year and I am so excited to scratch more countries off the map!
It still, however, feels like no time since I stepped foot into my very first classroom as an NQT, which I was reminded of when I stood in my new classroom in Dubai for the first time. It was a day of nerves and excitement. Your NQT year will be the most amazing, scary, tiring and heartwarming year of your teaching career. It will be a vast array of feelings.
My 10 golden nuggets of advice for you as an NQT would be:
- Organisation is key. Keep your resources organised from day 1 in pocket folders and label them. Have a notebook for to-do lists and have this at hand in meetings with your PST or at Croke Park meetings so you can compile what you need to do in one place, as well as a calendar in your teacher notebook to record deadlines so you don’t forget.
- Starting as you mean to go on is true, but it is never too late for change. Just because you didn’t start off with a particular routine or feel that a particular system you began with isn’t working, doesn’t mean you cannot change things. This is part of your learning. You will spend your year changing your strategies and methodologies. Enjoy the reflection and learning process of this!
- Be firm, but mostly fair.
4. Pause. If your pupils are not focused, listening or ready, then wait. Do not talk or give direction without your pupil’s attention.
5. Communicate your expectations and revisit these daily. Weave your expectations into your teaching each day and ensure pupils are aware of what is expected of them in each lesson. Can they speak a little louder during a particular part of the task if there is group work? What must they do if they hear a bell or when the timer goes off? When you clap and they respond, what must they do straight afterwards? Does this mean you want their attention or should they lower the volume and continue working? All of these questions, and more, should be addressed by you to the children during your introduction/ input to your lesson, or throughout the lesson, or teaching day, if it works best.
6. Realise you can’t do everything. Do you see that note to make a door display? Does that need to keep appearing on every post- crumpled up to-do list? Prioritise what you need to do urgently, what you need to do soon, and what is more so on your wishlist that you would like to do in the near or distant future.
7. Ask for help. There will be teachers in your school that have experienced something that you are experiencing, that have resources that could help you out when you feel a little under the weather, that are more than willing to help you bounce ideas off each other for lessons or themes, or who can maybe help you devise a classroom management strategy that you cannot figure out alone. Communicating and reaching out for help will be invaluable.
8. Trust yourself. You know more than you realise. Don’t let anyone make you feel inferior and don’t be afraid to let your voice be heard, particularly in planning meetings if you meet with others. You have fresh ideas that deserve to be heard and considered.
9. Self-care is a necessity not a luxury. I don’t know who needs to hear this, but you are not on teaching practice anymore! This is real life teaching and you’re here for the long-haul. Pace yourself. Have a cut-off time. Have a day, or two days, where perhaps you stay a little later or arrive a little earlier to get work done but be strict with yourself. Remember, ‘when you say ‘Yes’ to others, make sure you are not saying ‘No’ to yourself (Paolo Coehlo).
10. Always remember your why. When you feel that imposter syndrome creeping in, when you feel like you can’t do it, when you are tired and exhausted, remember why you started. I like to keep a Teacher Memory Box full of cards from my pupils and other teachers to look back on on these days. It helps to remind me of the good days, the happy tears and the moments of overwhelming joy, love and passion for my job. We all have a ‘why’, always try to remember yours.
Psst… we explore imposter syndrome and how to overcome it at Mná Fest in January 2022. Join us! Check it out HERE!
Most of all, enjoy the journey. Being a teacher is a vocation. Let your calling take you where it needs to take you and enjoy being part of one of the most important jobs in the world. Teaching is so special. Strive for an environment where you often forget you are at ‘work’. Lift other teachers up and support one another. Laugh often and make time to talk to your pupils about what matters to them. There is always time; don’t forget to breathe.
I have loved being here for you all over the past year to bring you the ‘Dear NQT’ series, and to form the bridge between teachers and Rahoo, in what I hope brought more attention to CPD areas of need and interest. I want to thank Ciara and the Rahoo team for enhancing my CPD through this partnership and trusting me in this role. It has been an honour and I am truly grateful, and will be forever grateful, for the opportunity. I hope my work has helped you all in some way, and I am very excited to work alongside the team at Rahoo again on future events. Who knows? Maybe we might all get to meet at an in-person event some day soon!
Until then, take care and stay safe. If you ever need me, you know I am only a dm away on @muinteoirn on Instagram.
We are so thankful to Nadine for all her work over the last 12 months – she has been such an enthusiastic asset to the Rahoo crew! We can’t wait to meet IRL soon for a cheeky prosecco! Mwah!
Did you know that 74% of teachers do not feel confident with formative assessment teaching methodologies?
As we approach the new school year, this survey conducted by Rahoo Training in 2020, and its findings, should be at the forefront of a school leader’s mind.
Webinar 8th November 2023: How to Enhance the Teaching & Learning of Maths with Formative Assessment
“How to Enhance the Teaching & Learning of Maths with Formative Assessment” is 1 hour in duration including Q&A opportunities.
This webinar will be hosted by a Nadine Lyons, Maths Lead Practitioner at South View School Dubai.