Dip Diary 10 – Experience of recent NQT’s

I’ve been receiving lots of messages from newly qualified teachers about completing the Dip/ Droichead process. I asked my followers to contribute to some guest blogposts on their personal experience of the dip/droichead process and to offer any advice to NQT’s. I was overwhelmed by the amount of teachers who agreed to answer a list of questions and I hope their experience will help with your NQT journey!

What course did you complete? When did you qualify?

Firstly I completed a degree in early years education with D.I.T.. I then completed the masters in education with Froebel in Maynooth University. I qualified in the summer of 2016.

How did you find the job search?

I found the job search very disheartening. I applied for about 50 jobs in a variety of counties. I only received 2 replies. One of which was an email stating that I didn’t meet the requirements and another offering me an interview.

Any advice for teachers currently job hunting?

My best advice would be to sit down and give yourself a perimeter in which you are willing to work and travel. I personally decided that I didn’t want to travel more than an hour from my home, and for me it was not an option to move. This meant that I was only applying for jobs that I actually wanted and wasn’t putting myself in a position that would be unsuitable or where I’d be travelling too long every day.
I also spent a lot of time on my application form. I completed one application in English and one as Gaeilge. I then tailored specific bits to fit each school but I kept the majority of the details the same and only changed small lines.

What role did you have?

I got a job in a Gaelscoil as a fourth class mainstream teacher. I had 20 children in my class. In my class I had children with dyslexia, emotional issues and general learning difficulties.

Did you complete the traditional dip with an inspector or the Droichead

I completed the traditional dip with an inspector but also had mentors within the school who did short lesson observations.

How did you find the process?

I found the process of the traditional dip very stressful. Every time the classroom door opened I was worried that it was the inspector. When the inspector did come she was very rude and her behaviour put me and the children on edge. During her first visit she didn’t speak to the children at all and she sat at the back of the room flicking through my folders, making notes and on her phone. After the observation and during the feedback she made reference to my classroom not having enough displays and she showed me photos of other NQT’s classrooms, stating that she wanted a classroom that had the WOW factor. She also made comments about the spelling policy in the school and said that I should be challenging it and not just implementing something for the sake of it.

During her second visit she began by introducing herself to the children. She told me what lessons she wanted to see, some of which I had already done for the day but I repeated them anyway. Again she sat at the back of the room flicking through my folders, making notes and on her phone.
However after about 5/10 minutes of each lesson she asked me to move on. This threw the children as it always came at a time when we were about to begin the activity. This meant I had to deal with jumping lessons and children who were getting agitated. The feedback session was mostly
the same again but I was just glad that after the whole ordeal I had passed.

Did you have a mentor or a go-to person to support you in school?

I had two mentors in the school. The first was the principal who I had to had in my plans to every single week. She checked every plan and even looked through my assessment folder once a term.I also had a senior teacher as a mentor to go to. Both of these people also sat in to observe me for prearranged lessons.

What was the most difficult part?

The most difficult part of the whole process was the paper work and the actual inspector observations. The paper work feels never ending and the pressure before and during the observations was immense.

How many hours did you do preparing/planning etc.?

At the end of the Summer I made my termly plans for the majority of subjects (not English, Irish or Maths) and this meant that I could really get to know the children at the beginning of the year. I also done my other termly plans during the holidays so that I didn’t have extra stress during
the teaching week.
Generally I spent 2 hours after school one day a week completing my weekly plan. Firstly plotting out my activities in my diary and then filling in my template.
With regards to preparing I arrived in school every day 40 minutes before the day began and stayed 30 minutes after. I tried not to do anything at the weekend, but I often spent 2-3 hours
doing prep on a Saturday and never did any school work on a Sunday.

How did you find the weekly planning? Any tips for NQT’s?

I think that beginning your weekly planning by plotting out the exercises you want to do each day for each subject is most effective and this speeds up the process of completing the formal weekly plan.

What resources/websites/blogs etc. did you find most helpful?

I found pinterest great. Full of ideas. Also twinkl and sparklebox were brilliant. Also using Instagram to see what other teachers are doing is brilliant but can be overwheleming as there is so much information.

What advice would you give to a NQT?

My advice is to take every day as it comes. Don’t stress all the small things. The most important things are your relationship with the children, your behaviour management, your classroom layout and your style of teaching. Sit down and get the paperwork done and then do what you set out to do and teach. If you show your passion for teaching and you have your plans all will be fine.