Teachwire Logo
MathsBeat
MathsBeat
News

NQT Diaries Part 3: Improvising Lessons, Alternate Schools and a Class Hamster

The second term has left the post-Christmas lull behind, and sees Teach First trio Holly, Sophie and Joe finding new ways to help their classes progress...

  • NQT Diaries Part 3: Improvising Lessons, Alternate Schools and a Class Hamster

In the third of a five-part series we document the year of three fresh-faced teachers ready to make a big difference. Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2


Sophie Hemery

“When I’m not sure how to improvise, I usually end up improvising improvisation. Sometimes with surprisingly positive outcomes, and other times…not so much”

Year group: 4
Favourite subject: English and geography

Learning how to be a primary school teacher ‘on the job’ frequently feels like little more than improvisation. But when I’m not sure how to improvise, I want and need someone to teach me.

As such, I usually end up improvising improvisation – sometimes with surprisingly positive outcomes, and other times…not so much.

Currently, I feel like I’m at sea: occasionally drowning, usually treading water and, once in a while, riding upon the highest of waves, feeling like I’ll never come down. Until I inevitably do, that is.

I’ve always wanted to do things to the highest possible standard, but never have I felt so unsure if I’m actually achieving that. Equally, I’ve never cared as much about getting it right as I do now.

Along with improvising the roles of counsellor, mediator, nurse, clown and more, I want to be an excellent teacher for these children. While I’m still only a few months in, I’ve yet to feel like one.


Joe McCloskey

“So far, my Year 5s are progressing and behaving well. I decided that they deserved more than my usual weekly prize draw, so I invested in a class hamster.”

Year group: 5
Favourite subject: English/MFL

I was always looking forward to the second term.

The constant distractions and lack of routine that were created by the Christmas pantomime are now well behind us. The children have recovered from the long slog that was the first term and returned refreshed and ready to learn.

I have really enjoyed the increased pace of the last couple of months and am now adapting my teaching to suit all the needs of my children, and getting more from them as a result.

So far, my Year 5s are progressing well and, on the whole, behaving well too.

I decided they deserved more than my usual weekly prize draw, so I invested in a class hamster. He is my tool to help maintain good behaviour, encourage responsibility and reduce selfishness.

So far, he has been a very worthy investment. The children love him and he has provided a stimulus for countless PSHE discussions and been the subject of a plethora of poetic musings.

Next step, class puppy.


Holly Cuthbert

“When I entered the classroom I was astonished by the maturity of the children’s vocabulary – gingerly is not an adverb I frequently use”

Year group: 2
Favourite subject: Science

At the start of this term I completed my one-week alternate school placement.

The point is for all Teach First participants to experience a contrasting school during their training, and I can certainly say that my experience was a stark contrast to the school life I’m used to!

I spent a week in an outstanding school located in an affluent part of central London.

When I entered the classroom I was astonished by the maturity of the children’s vocabulary (gingerly is not an adverb I frequently use) and how well-behaved the children were.

As I watched them deeply engaged in their learning I couldn’t help but think this is how I’d like my teaching experience to be.

However, as the week went on I felt slightly unneeded by the children, and I greatly missed hearing the most unexpected comments at the most inappropriate times.

At the end of the week I left the school early to make sure I was back with my own class for story time.

When I walked into my classroom I was welcomed by the busy, lively noise of what, to me, is a normal Year 2 class.

The only moment when there was complete silence was when one child asked “Were the children better behaved then us?” and “Are you going to go back there?” and I knew then that this is where I am needed.

See what’s next for our NQTs, here, with Part 4


Learning to lead

Teach First’s Leadership Development Programme (teachfirst.org.uk) is delivered across England and Wales.

Through the support of universities, schools and Teach First, the programme offers participants a two-year teacher training programme in schools exclusively serving low-income communities.

Sign up here for your free Brilliant Teacher Box Set

Want fresh ideas on teaching grammar, punctuation and spelling?

Find out more here >