Tag Archives: professional development

The Power of Positivity

Thought I would share my article published in a recent UKEDMagazine – enjoy and hope at least one person feels motivated!

In 2014, an eager primary education student was introduced to a brand new world. I was finishing my last year of Initial Teacher Training and I was encouraged to join Twitter to engage with other professionals. What I was welcomed with was a vast horizon of conscientious, inspirational and outstanding practitioners. Unfortunately, I slipped off the radar around the start of my RQT Year due to workload demands but have been back since January 2017.

However, something is different. The mood had changed. There has been a lot of negativity and contention on Twitter. The topics have been wide ranging from philosophies, to phases in education to specific approaches in areas of teaching and learning. Debate is to be expected; personal insults and questioning other professional’s morals is shocking. I want to move away from this mentality – surely we are challenged enough in our day-to-day school lives? How can we expect to draw more teachers into participating with other teachers on Twitter when they arrive they see poor professionalism between a few? The golden question to ask is this – would I say that to a fellow teacher at school?

Face to Face

Positive working relationships in school have, at times, saved my teaching career. In my NQT Year I would often find myself floating in to my KS2 leader’s classroom – not necessarily because I wanted support but just to talk about what had been going on and any advice about any general things that were on my mind. They were so welcoming and those moments where I could reflect (without really realising I was reflecting) made such a difference to me as a teacher. The power of positivity is such a tangible force. Recently I have noticed that when I make the effort to exude positivity, those days tend to go better. Of course this has to come from the top-down: a calm, reassuring Head means a patient, unpressured SLT which means empowered, composed teachers. As well as this, composed teachers tend to lead to more unruffled children.

Of course, not every teacher will emanate positivity. That’s highly unlikely, maybe impossible. The temptation here will be to join in. It’s interesting how two different people can have two very different viewpoints on the same events. I work in such an incredible, forward-thinking school – and yet there are some who still manage to drain the warmth of positive energy. The challenge in this situation will be to continue being sanguine whilst trying to spread the optimism.

Face to Screen (or, Face to Many Faces)

As mentioned, due to the wonders of modern technology, online forums such as Twitter enable a wider audience to absorb other teachers’ positivity. This proved especially important to me in a specific experience.

I was in my NQT Year as a Year 6 teacher and had taken part in a Writing Moderation Meeting cross-school. To save on detail, it did not go well – not necessarily due to poor planning on my part but a couple of issues arose. I went home that evening, my confidence crumpled and tossed in the corner. What came before that day was a series of soul-crushing events, which were now culminating towards the KS2 SATs. As time went on I found myself going through the motions of a class teacher. A week or so later, I found myself on Twitter and found the #NQTchat, something I hadn’t encountered before. I decided to stick around and half an hour later I was enthused! I couldn’t wait to get back into the classroom and shake things up a little. What happened? The power of positivity. I was met with a wall of irresistibly passionate teachers…and it was infectious.

What makes positivity a challenge?

Surely, as we have the best job in the world, being positive should be something that comes natural to all teachers? However, this is not easy. As I was preparing this article, I went into school specifically with a target to stay positive. I went into school excited to begin. However, I found the copying for my lessons that day hadn’t been done. No bother! Then, there was no colour ink in the colour printer. Never mind! After that, I realised someone had taken my guillotine from my classroom and not brought it back. Ok…it’s alright! But I started to see how easily positivity can slip away from a teacher’s clambering grasp as they strive to provide the best education for their eager learners. The trial then is to defy the odds, break the cycle of negativity and realise that you are changing lives.

Positivity Pledge

For any that are struggling to find happiness or comfort in their role as a teacher now, don’t give up. The teaching profession will miss your influence. Hundreds of children will have different lives, they will miss out without your brilliance to greet them each school day. Times will be tough, demands will be great on you – however, there are parents, teachers and children that stand to await you and your positivity. Don’t get drawn into negative arguments on Twitter, don’t think that no one cares about you, many around you want you to succeed. This is why we teach – to make a difference to young people’s lives, and we get to be the one that makes that huge difference every single school day.

After reading this, I do hope that if you feel in any way inspired about the wonderful you have as a teacher – please spread the positivity to at least one other person you work with. You never know the impact on someone’s career you could have – I have had many career-saving influences!

NQT Resolutions by @Mroberts90Matt

So, as I come to the end of my 3rd week as a ‘real’ teacher, I finally got some time to read some blog posts which I haven’t done for a while. I saw this post by another NQT which sets out some resolutions for their NQT year. I thought this idea was excellent and so, decided to join in and create my own. The reason being that in reading their resolutions, I felt the desire to meet those resolutions too as they are really good. So my reasons are twofold – one, foot my own record and target setting and two, if any other NQT comes across this them hopefully it’ll inspire them to do some too!
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1. Keep my home-work life balanced
I am convinced that if I do this all year then all things will eventually fall into place. My wife and son have been great supports and inspirations to me during my Initial Teacher Training years and they will be so for years to come. We are expecting our second child mid-October so, whilst it certainly won’t get easier, this goal will be vital for my performance at work to be at its best and my health 😉

2. Keep on top of marking
With all the things I will need to get done as an NQT, the one that has been a bug bear with me in the past is marking children’s books. In my view it is one of the things that, if not done right, can be the biggest waste of a teacher’s time. So, of course, to do it right requires a bit more care, effort and (you guessed it) time! Fortunately I’ve found, and been authorised to use, a method which was brought to my attention in a series of excellent summer blog posts by @LearningSpy who referenced it to Joe Kirby’s blog (sharing good practice or what)! Basically on Friday I marked a set of 30 Maths books in 20 mins – and I have a feeling that it will have a greater impact on them than a couple of short, quickly put down comments from me ever would. Take a look!

3. Don’t get TOO involved
For my specialism at University I took Computing. It was actually a choice that I was forced into, but I am so glad I did! I probably would not be blogging/tweeting as a teacher if I did not! However, at my school it is common knowledge that no one knows about Computing…sure, great for my future prospects but not this year please! I’ve already been assured by my Head that I will not be asked to take an further responsibilities (this year), but there is an RQT who has taken the responsibility. She has already asked if I would want to work with her on a Computing Club she’s started. A few months ago I might have said yes. However, after sage advice and experience of full time teaching, I declined. I may well take the offer up MUCH later in the year but as an NQT, I know I need to focus on getting things as right as I can in my classroom before committing to wider responsibilities.

4. Keep up my blog, professional and class
I’ve not been doing so well on this one, but only 2 and a bit weeks since my last post isn’t too bad, right? I am aiming to post once a week still on my blog and (hopefully) keep up my Teacher Voice Weekly Polls but I’ll see how that goes. If you get the chance take a look and vote, I’d really appreciate it.

5. Have Fun!
I am in this for the long haul. I do not want to become a burnt out, fatigued teacher but a vibrant, inspirational educator. It will not be easy, I know. Just because I have got through my first few weeks as an NQT unscathed and, honestly, feeling confident does not mean it will be all smooth sailing. I have my first lesson observation on Thursday…feeling a bit nervous! However, as I remember to enjoy the career, hopefully I’ll be able to accomplish this resolution!

There will probably be more thoughts as I plod along, however, if I can keep these things going in my NQT Year, I’ll be satisfied. Anything more, such in sure there will be, it’s going to be a great year!
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photo credit: Nina Matthews Photography via photopin cc

photo credit: Homes and Dreams via photopin cc