4 weeks in…

So I haven’t blogged for a little while as I took the time out to thoroughly enjoy the summer holidays (I don’t even feel guilty about it). I holidayed with my husband in the Dominican Republic and It was just bliss!

So anyway I am now into the full swing on things being a fully fledged NQT (newly qualified teacher) and oh my I love it!!!

It is so so different from being a trainee, I have my own room, my own form, my own classes, my own SOW. I love it!

Needless to say the first two weeks or so I felt as though I was just about keeping my head above water but now I am organised, I’m in a good routine and I’m slowly figuring out my new work life balance.

I had my first NQT observation today which went really well. The only areas for development were extremely nit-picky such as organising the tables so there is less clutter (the pupils planners and pencil cases being the clutter) I can handle that sort of criticism after all if that’s the only negative then my teaching must be alright!

I am on my first conference tomorrow – an NQT one with the entire county so let’s see what that has to offer!

I’ll keep you updated soon in the meantime here are some pictures of my new classroom 🙂

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First Day Nerves

So I haven’t updated for a while but just to keep you all in the loop I have now graduated and obtained QTS woohoo!!

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It was definitely a day of mixed feelings; relief, excitement, happiness, and sadness especially as it was the last time I will probably see all my fellow DT trainees altogether again! These ladies have been great this year, we have all really supported one another through the ups and downs, the highs and the lows and I will miss them like crazy!

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Claire (one of the trainees) even made us these really cute friendship bracelets with out initials on them. I love them!!!

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My last day in school was Friday and I had equally mixed feelings. I held back the tears for 3 whole days but finally shed one after I left the car park for the last time. I was truly spoilt! My form threw a party for me and made me this amazing card (yes that is a picture of me)

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All the lovely team in The DT department also got me a lovely card and put together two boxes of gifts for me. One was filled with stationary (I LOVE stationary) and one was a teachers survival kit filled with wine, choccies, paracetamol, tissues the lot!!!

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I am so grateful for all their support and kind words. My HOD even wrote on my Facebook “you’re going to be one hell of a teacher” which I thought was just lovely!

So anyway the purpose of this post… I start my first job tomorrow and I am nervous as hell. Mainly because of the unexpected. Everyone says I’ll be fine and I know I will but it is so nerve wracking. So many questions going through my head…

“What if the staff don’t like me?”
“What if I don’t get on with them?”
“What if I get super lost?”
“What if the kids are really mean?”
“What if I do something totally embarrassing?”
“What if I really don’t understand something that I probably should?”
“What if I don’t know where to find stuff?”
“What if I have forgotten how to teach!”
“What if what I wear is not acceptable / appropriate?”

At the moment the ‘what to wear’ is plaguing me. I am having a meltdown!!! Since starting teaching I have gone up a dress size so none of my posh teacher clothes even fit any more. To make matters worse (but probably better in all other aspects) the school is closed to kids tomorrow so what if I am all dressed up and everyone else is in jeans?

So I think I am going to go with the only pencil skirt that still fits me (but happens to be bright pink), a cream top – with sleeves as I know the Head is funny about having shoulders out, my black blazer and trusty black wedges. It’s a nice combo and I’ve worn it before I just hope the bright pink skirt doesn’t give off the wrong impression.

Anyway bag is packed, outfit chosen and now time for a bath and early to bed ready for my first day eeeekkk!!

Wish me luck!!!

10 essential stationary items for trainee teachers

If you are reading this post and you are about to start your teacher training then take note because this could save you a small fortune in the long run.

As a trainee teacher your school may or may not provide you with all the stationary you need for your year ahead. It will really depend on the school you go to and whether you are on a paid or unpaid training course.

My advice… stock up! As soon as the shops put their ‘back to school’ offers on which is usually at the start of the summer holidays, you need to go to staples, hobbycraft or any of the supermarkets and get everything you need for the year ahead whilst it’s still on offer.

So what will you need, you ask me?

1. Folders

Lots of folders! Now when it comes to folders I am pretty anal. I like them to be coordinated and organised. You will also need plenty of them. I ended up with 12 folders during my training year. Don’t believe me? Here they are:
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Now a lot of people told me I had done too much work and collected too much evidence to meet the teaching standards but personally I don’t think its possible to do too much! I wanted to get a 1 (outstanding) as my final grade and so I put all my efforts into achieving that even if it did mean 12 folders.

However I wouldn’t suggest you go and buy 12 folders straight up, but if they are on offer then buy at least 6 – you will always need them!

The folders I used were amazing. They are the the Staples Better Binder Folders. They are so durable and strong, exactly what you will need for the tons of paperwork that you will end up collecting. The lever arch folders have a special mechanism for clamping shut and hold all your work perfectly in place and the ring binders have 4 rings so again all of your work stays put. The best thing is they have windows on the spine where you can print your own labels and change them as and when you like.

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They come in a whole range of colours and sizes and I used mainly white folders for all my teaching work, pink folders for my subject knowledge and turquoise for my exemplar standards folder. I used mainly the lever arch folders purely because of the sheer amount of work I was producing however the ring binders were also great for things such as your ‘teaching portfolio’ where you will keep everything important for teaching such as your DBS, Skills Tests, Union registration etc.

The folders can be quite pricey at £7.99 for a lever arch folder however Staples have run a number of offers throughout the year where they are on 3 for 2. I would 100% recommend these folders to anyone starting their teacher training. I plan on re-using mine for my NQT year and just transferring the work that I am unlikely to use again into different folders.

Click here to shop the collection


2. File dividers

You will 100% need at least the same amount of sets of file dividers as you have folders and let me tell you that the cheap paper ones will be useless. They will rip and you will have to buy more so to save you from that hassle in the first place I suggest plastic file dividers.

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The ones I have been using are the Rexel translucent polypropylene dividers. I actually bought these in bulk from Costco so if your lucky enough to know someone with a Costco card it is worth getting down there otherwise the only other place I have found them is Amazon.

They come with a colour coded front cover and come in 5 or 10 part dividers in a range on bright colours so it’s easy to find the section you are after. As they are made from polypropylene it means they are tough, hard-wearing and cannot be torn so they are perfect to divide up the huge amount of work you will produce over the next year.

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At £6.60 for 1 pack of dividers again they are quite pricey but if you get them from Costco they are much cheaper however they are definitely worth it. No more stressing out because your file dividers have torn!

For more information on the Rexel file dividers click here

If you want to purchase these from Amazon then click here

3. Punched Pockets

If I had a pound for every single punched pocket I have used during the course well I probably would have had enough money to pay for the course outright. Ok maybe that’s an extreme statement but I cannot stress enough how many punched pockets you will use, especially if your so anal about your folders like I am.

I have an AMAZING head of department who is very understanding to my need of punched pockets, he is also a massive stationary fan and has stuff stockpiled in the department so I have been very fortunate to use ALOT of his punched pockets but I did buy my own too.

On the same trip to Costco where I stocked up on file dividers, I also stocked up on punched pockets and bought 3 boxes of 200 punched pockets. Oh my they have been ever so useful!

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The pockets I use are the Twinlock brand. I don’t know too much about this brand other than the fact their punched pockets are very very good.

I’m not sure what I paid for them in Costco, it wasn’t a great deal but probably a bit more than your average economy pockets. These are strong, they don’t tear, the don’t crumple so I would recommend them and you can get them from Amazon. Just click here.

Alternatively if your school have an account with Lyreco their punched pockets are also amazing!

4. Post-it notes

You will definitely need post-it notes and a whole selection too. I use them for many reasons such as making to do lists, dividing work which I have marked and still need to mark and mostly for highlighting those wonderful teachers standards on my evidence.

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I made a bit of a mistake when I initially purchased post-it notes and spent over £20 on a variety of different colours to highlight the standards, I was then trimming them down to make index post-its mainly because I could not find anywhere that sold 8 different colours (to highlight the 8 teachers standards). That was until my friend and fellow trainee teacher showed me a set she bought off eBay.

This set is quite simply fantastic! It has 8 different coloured index notes as well as 4 colours of mini post-its and comes in a wonderful little faux leather holder. Sounds expensive? No. For around £3.50 you can get this fantastic set!! Amazing! 1 set should do you fine throughout your year but I ordered 3, just to be on the safe side.

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There are a few sellers on eBay that sell these sets. The following link should take you to one of them. Just click here.

5. A Laminator

I have produced hundreds of my own resources over the year and thankfully I will be able to take these with me into my new school. This would not have been possible without my trusty laminator.

I bought mine from WHSmiths a few years back and it has never let me down. It was cheap as chips and as I only have an A4 one it is very easy to store.

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This one costs £16.99 from WHSmiths which I think is an absolute bargain. It will definitely make your work more professional looking and defiantly more durable so that you can reuse the resources.

As it is vital that literacy is embedded into all subjects at school I have laminated a range of literacy cards which my lower ability pupils have access to when they are doing any form of written work (this is also a good way of showing differentiation).

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These resources were created using PowerPoint and are printed double sided, I have then hole punched the top corner and joined them using treasury tags (another thing worth investing in).

You may not necessarily need a laminator, your school should have one but I have found that having my own at home is so useful and it is worth every penny of the £16.99 investment. Throughout your teaching career there will always be a time when the laminator needs to come out and as a trainee teacher starting out in the profession for the first time, creating all your own resources from scratch, we’ll it is so worth it!

6. Laminating Pouches

So this brings me on nicely to stationary essential number 5 – laminating pouches.

Don’t buy a pack of 10 or even 25, you have a brand new laminator you will want to play with and will now have loads of great ideas for reusable resources. Save yourself time and money in the long run and buy a box of 100.

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At staples a box of 100 pouches will cost you £16 and will last plenty of time. There is not much to say on their quality, laminating pouches are laminating pouches – they do the job intended.

If you want to purchase the Staples laminating pouches then click here.

7. Pocket Wallets

You now have loads of new shiny laminated resources but you can’t store them in your Better Binder folders without punching holes in all your lovely work so where are you going to put them to keep them all nice and together?

Pocket wallets. I bought a bulk box of Snopake popper wallets that time I was in Costco, remember that? I think they are great, they come in a variety of colours and I use them all the time I have one wallet for each class I teach and each day I fill the wallet with the resources required for that lesson and off I go, I also keep my generic resources in these including my laminated work and if I am marking design work the kids have produced in A4 paper they are great to keep in all nice and flat.

To shops the range just click here.

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8. The Trusty Red Pen

Some schools are very anti red pen marking, my school is not and so my red pen comes everywhere with me.

I mark all my pupils work in red pen so it is clear for them to see their marks and feedback. You never know when you will need it so I either always have my red pen in my pocket or on my lanyard just incase.

You shouldn’t need to buy any red pens, your school should have plenty. I just use a simple red biro and it does me absolutely fine!

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9. Spare Pens, Pencils, Colours, Rulers, Rubbers, Sharpeners – The Lot!

If your pupils are anything like mine you are lucky if they turn up to lesson with even a pen. I find that pupils come to school very ill-equipped these days. When I was in school all of the above was mandatory so I’m not sure what has gone wrong, I know when I start my job I will at least enforce the importance of the correct stationary to my tutor group. In the meantime it’s best to just have a backup of spare stationary especially if you want them to produce good quality work for you.

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I set up these pencil cases around the time I had my interview for my NQT teaching job. My mindset was that I wanted to impress during the lesson I had to teach and I didn’t want to have to ask the teacher for equipment, I wanted to show that I was organised and always planned ahead so I went to the supermarket and probably spent no more than £10 on 4 pencil cases and all of the above to fill them. There was about 4 pens and 4 pencils for pupils to write with and a range of colours to share as well as a ruler, rubber and sharpener. I then used my Dymo Letratag LT-100H to label the pencil cases to ensure they came back to me at the end of the lesson.

Again this probably isn’t an essential item of stationary to prepare you for your training year but you will need at least one pencil case filled with all the stationary for yourself! You will definitely need all of that, and maybe throw in some highlighters and board markers too.

10. A Heavy Duty Bag

You now have all this stuff but you don’t have your own classroom and possibly not even your own desk so what are you going to do with it all?

You need a large heavy duty bag – believe me!

I started off the year using the Tesco big green bag for life type things (Jute bags they are in fact called) but I slowly started wearing them out. My stuff was all far too heavy.

Fortunately I have a birthday in January and so I was extremely lucky and received this gorgeous Cath Kidston bag.

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It is the most incredible bag. It fits 3 lever arch folders in and it is so strong. Not only that but it looks beautiful too. I tend to carry all my school work in there and pack my lunch in my handbag.

I don’t think it is actually available to buy any more and I did get it from the outlet in Bicester. However take a look on Cath Kidston’s website to admire some of the other amazing bags they have.

Anyway that’s all for my top 10 essential stationary items for trainee teachers, if you have any other things you can think of that I might have missed please leave them in the comments box below.

Thanks 🙂

Just a typical Friday as a Trainee Teacher

IT IS FRIDAY!! WOOHOO!

Only 5 lessons stand between me and the weekend! After today I only have 3 weeks left as a trainee so I thought I would use this opportunity to give you an insight into a typical Friday as a trainee teacher.

My day starts at 6.00am (well it should but I always tend to snooze my alarm until 6.18am) and then I finally think to myself… ‘must get out of bed’ I get up, get dressed and make my lunch. I always aim to be out of the door by 6.50am. I travel to my school by car and the journey takes approximately 40-45 minutes although if I leave later than 6.50am I can get stuck in traffic and it will take much longer.

I usually get to school by about 7.30am and head straight to the DT office. I am usually the 2nd person in the department to turn up. I sit down at my desk and fire up the laptop. I am much more productive at getting things done in the morning including my planning for the day, my resources and setting up any demonstrations that I need, well that is until everyone else turns up and its an opportunity for everyone to have a gossip. Sometimes I will get involved and other times I will get my head down and crack on with my work depending on how much I need to get done.

This morning I am preparing my resources for a year 9 class for period 5. I have planned on demonstrating to the pupils how to make a scone based pizza using seasonal vegetables as a topping.

You can find the recipe here: Scone Based Pizza Recipe

The pupils will also have a chance to design their own pizza in preparation for their next lesson which will be a practical lesson. This is all part of my ‘Seasonal Suppers’ scheme of work that I have been writing myself. It meets the expectations required in the new National Curriculum where pupils should make predominantly savoury meals and understand about the seasonality of fruit and vegetables.

You can find the worksheet here: Scone Based Pizza Design Worksheet

By 8.45am I have completed all my resources for the day and go up to meet my form group and register them. Usually on a Friday they will have a year group assembly. Today they didn’t so I used the opportunity to discuss some upcoming events in the school and ask them to share their plans for the weekend. They are a Year 7 group so are very keen to share!

Period 1 (9.05am) is a free period. I use this time to catch up on any other work that needs planning for the day, alternatively I will use my time for marking and prior to my final observation and teaching sign off a few weeks back, I used the time to write up my weekly reflection on progress. If I didn’t do it on a Friday, I almost would always forget what I have done during the week by the time the weekend came. These were imperative to demonstrate how as a trainee teacher I had met the teachers standards each week as well as an opportunity to reflect on my progress throughout the course as much as I despised writing them each week they were infact incredibly useful.

Period 2 (10.10am) is Year 10 Food Technology. As a trainee, I don’t always teach this class myself but I tend to team teach with the Food Technology Teacher. She will lead the lesson and I will work with some of the unruly boys (did i mention my current school is all boys?) so there are usually quite a few.

…and breaktime. Usually I don’t get a chance to sit down, I am either getting things ready for the next lesson or cleaning up pupils mess they have made in the previous lesson. Today was a treat, I sat down with the ladies in Food Technology and ate my Belvita biscuits (I need them to keep me going).

Period 3 starts at 11.30am and today I have another Year 9 group. We are doing practical Melting Moments (I will add this to the collection of recipes soon) and it is nearly 28 degrees outside. I am going to get very very warm. It is also the first time the group have ever cooked so it will most definitely be quite chaotic especially towards the end of the lesson, trying to get the boys to tidy up and see all of them to mark their work is definitely somewhat of a challenge. Maybe I will do a whole blog post on teaching practical lessons.

Period 4 (12.35pm) is another free. It sounds like I don’t do anything half the time, but believe me I do. This is more time to plan lessons, create resources and do marking. You also have to remember I am only a trainee so naturally these things take longer than more experienced teachers. I am on a 60% timetable, so on an average week I will teach 12 – 15 lessons. I am in school 4 days a week and on Wednesday I have subject knowledge days with the other trainees (again something for a whole other blog post).

At lunchtime I sit back up in the DT office and usually carry on with my work. I try to get as much done at school to avoid doing too much at home. I prefer it that way but most nights I still take work home with me.

Period 5 (2.10pm) The last one of the day. This is the Scone Based Pizza demonstration and design worksheet. The lesson could go one of two ways. Friday, period 5 and year 9’s is not the best mix but we shall see…… (I am writing this before teaching them)

…. and at 3.10pm its hometime (for the kids) although I will try and escape soon after the school buses to go and enjoy a lovely weekend. I won’t do any work tonight, that can wait until Sunday!

So there you have it, a typical Friday for a typical Food Technology Trainee Teacher.

The end is in sight….

So as I near the end of my teacher training and with my NQT year right around the corner I decided that I wanted to share my brand new life with the world!

At 26 years old I decided to make a drastic change to my life and leaving behind a very successful career in retail, I accepted a place on an unpaid teacher training course (Schools Direct) with the University of Reading and The Wokingham Secondary Federation teaching Design & Technology in secondary school.

Now at the age of 27 and with 3 weeks to go until I qualify I can honestly say I have not looked back once! I have loved every single minute of my training and I am so excited to start my new career as a teacher with my very own classes and my very own classroom.

On the 7th July I will be going into my first paid teaching job in a different school as an NQT and I can’t wait (although naturally a little nervous).

I received my job offer back in February. It was the first teaching job I applied to and it was my first teaching interview. I was offered the job on the spot! Fantastic! The school had a ‘good’ Ofsted at the time and I fell in love with the place. I was so ecstatic!

About to become an NQT, I am fully aware my workload will be just as chaotic in the next year as it has been this year but to throw another spanner in the works, my new fabulous school has just gone into special measures (so I have been told). It is definitely going to be a challenging year ahead but it doesn’t put me off! I can’t wait!

And just so you know, my name is Katie. Also known as ‘Miss’ or ‘Mrs Meade’

I hope you enjoy reading 🙂