A Cool School

After I had completed my PGCE in East London I was almost immediately on the hunt for a job. My PGCE had not been easy…at all. In fact it was a very testing time for me, emotionally, physically and mentally. My placements during my PGCE had made me feel as if I was just another student, somebody who was getting in the way and didn’t know what they were doing. Being a shy, un-confident and self doubting kind of person, I was already in a place where i was unsure of myself. My mentors, the professional guides for student teachers made me feel inadequate and as if the skills and qualities I was building up would not quite cut it. In fact some mentors went as far as to make my life more difficult by leaving me to teach lessons without much guidance on how to deliver them (resulting in satisfactory graded observations by professional tutors) and to get me in to trouble rather than helping me. Many also asked me why on earth I would want to teach and that it wasn’t worth the headache. One particular mentor always comes to mind at these times, when I would come in in the morning and I would say my good mornings only to receive a grunt in return. This mentor was also the one who set the headteacher on me one morning unexpectedly over something so menial i cant remember. I remember feeling so stressed, helpless, lonely and hopeless, especially as I was due a professional observation that same day. She even went as far as to tell other teachers that I was unemployable and unprofessional. With an experience like that I wondered if i would ever be able to make a good teacher and whether the things I had learnt would be able to be put to good use.

I failed the interview for the borough I had trained in (partly because I was the last to be seen and I was rushed by the interviewees…the guy even huffed whilst i was thinking of a good answer to a question and looked at his watch as if to say ‘hurry up!’). That for me was the final straw and as dissapointed in myself as I felt, i was determined not to give up.

I handed my CV in to my own local borough and managed to secure 2 interviews in the early summer. The first school I visited was not very ‘me’ and people seemed a little miserable. But the second I visited was the total opposite! It gave me hope, I remember saying a little prayer whilst waiting in the school lobby and the interview i had with the head and deputy head was almost a friendly conversation! The Head rang me a few days later to offer me a job should they be giving the funding to expand the school, they did, I accepted and I was to start in September!

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layout of the cool school.

I ended up working there for 3 years until June this year due to relocation because of marriage. It was honestly the best 3 years of my career! The school itself was bright, cheerful and modern looking, it glowed with a look of cool school 🙂 For the first time since I had started teaching I was actually a little more than excited to be somewhere where I felt accepted. The people from day 1 were so so friendly, I had barely started and i was getting smiles in corridors and hello’s from everyone.

Since working there I have made sooooo many friends with teachers, learning support assistants, parents and children. I was pretty sad when the time came to leave but I know that i have friends for life there. My mentor Ms.Lucky we shall name her, in particular was AWESOME, the nicest lady EVER! I was able to talk to her about anything and everything no matter how small and she made my first year so so easy and gave me the confidence I needed to be where I am today. My NQT buddy Mrs.Taylor was also one who joined me on my newly qualified teaching (NQT) journey and she made it that much easier. We would talk through (mostly she would talk…i dont think she ever stops) each and every little thing, constantly in one another rooms checking and re-checking how things were being done and helping each other along the way. I was also lucky in the sense that all the teaching assistants I worked with were easy going and super professional, they made each day easier by giving me the support and laughter needed. (thanks P, E,K, J and Naj!!) In fact everyone I made friends with would always pop into my classroom for a quick chat and a few jokes to make the day better.

Even the parents and students I taught were lovely. Because the school was pretty mutlicultural I was able to converse in my home languages which gave parents that added confidence in me (although to be honest most parents started off the year by looking at me and wondering what young teenager was about to be teaching their precious child and what could I do). I did have to prove myself each year though to the parents that I was more than capable and by the end of the year most surely had done (I even had some parents crying on me with gratitude for teaching their child so well! total shocker but in a nice way :)) The kiddies too were lovely, gave me their fair share of trouble and stress but always forthcoming with the willing-ness to please and show me affection (for some little munchkins i was their very first teacher! it showed in the little gifts i got each morning from some, little drawings, notes and flowers).

school 4school 3

I was also lucky enough that a year after my first teaching year to work with one of my now best friends H. We built up our friendship via work and by the time I left we cried the biggest tears knowing we would never find a working partnership like it again. H is the coolest girl ever! She made it worth going into work for every day, each morning I would go in to her classroom or she into mine and we would recall/vent/talk/laugh/moan about whatever was on our minds, usually school related but eventually personal stuff too. She helped me through some tricky and difficult times whilst I was working there and I won’t forget the support and kindness she showed me. I defo made a friend for life working with her and again, feel so lucky to have had that. I still keep in touch with many of the friends I made there and make a point of trying to meet up when we can to catch up and de-stress.

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The 4 of us (Mrs Taylor, Ms Lucky and H and I) had the best times at the cool school, afternoons off together to plan lessons was the fun-nest thing ever and we looked forward to it each week. We even went as far as to make a silly band names up (having decided to quickly mess about with the music room instruments on our way to planning..who says teacher have to be mature??), Twiggy (me, being so slim) on the drums, Piggy (H for having porky fingers) on keyboard, Wiggy (Mrs Taylor for having thich hair…she mentioned that alot our singer,and Jiggy (Ms Lucky cos it rhymed with the rest) our dancer. Makes me laugh even now thinking about how immature we acted at times…if only the kids we taught knew! hehe.

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twiggy, piggy, wiggy and jiggy 😉

Generally my 3 years at this school was a very happy time for me and I loved everyone and everything about it. Although I now look back and remember being a still shy, nervous teacher forced to come out of her shell (you try being shy and talking to a parent whose raving on about a lost hat/glove/scarf…impossible!) It helped me make me who I am today. I feel i can now confidently teach and use my skills to make a difference…quite a different story to 4 years ago!

When the time came to leave lots of people were sad to see me go but at the same time it felt like the right time to move on. My mentor had left a year prior to my leaving which changed alot of things for me there and I felt like i had secured my skills and professional qualities in teaching reception class. It was time for me to move on to pastures new and start exploring other year groups, new people, new places and new teaching territories!

I sometimes still look back (even though it wasn’t long ago) and already lots of things have changed there making me think I was right to leave when I did. Lots of friends are either leaving or have already left and things felt ‘different’ when I went back to visit. The school holds a lot of fond memories for me and always will because of the impact it had on my personal and professional life and even though I miss those ‘good old days’ i’m so thankful to even have had them and wish that every teacher or wanabee teacher out there has a similar experience.

My next mission now though…is to find a school just as cool and hope I can enjoy teaching for many more years to come. Wish me luck! 😀

school 8

where to next….?

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