Dip Diary 5 – 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?

I completed my B.Ed in St Pats in 2010. I started college at the tender of age of 17, which I now think was too young!

How did you find the job search?

Absolutely horrific! When I graduated it was almost impossible to get a job. I subbed in one school for the bones of two years on a day to day basis. I really didn’t enjoy it at all as it was such a big school and unbelievably clique-y!

I covered a couple of sick leaves and parental leaves for a couple of months at a time then but never anything long enough to get my dip done and most of the work was in learning support. I’m not going to lie it had a huge effect on my mental health and stopped answering the phone to phone calls for subbing work as I only ever seemed good enough for short term work and was continuously overlooked for maternity/fixed term jobs. I think it was almost a year I didn’t want to work in that environment during that period. It took me a long time to realize that I was actually suffering from depression. During that year I had to apply for an extension to the Teaching Council to complete my probation. Thankfully it was an easy enough process when I sent them a screen shot of the countless number of unanswered job applications. Three years ago, when I finally realized that my experience from those schools shouldn’t ruin my dream of being a teacher I started subbing again. It took a while to feel comfortable in the classroom again but with the help of a few friends that I had confided in, I began to enjoy it again. I worked mainly in two schools, I worked on average 3 days a week and it really invigorated me again. An unexpected sick leave came up in one of the schools and I worked there most of the year. I was the learning support teacher there and I really loved my time there as it was a great fit for me. The staff were amazing and friendly. Last year a fixed term position came up and I got an interview and luckily was offered the job.

Any advice for teachers currently job hunting?

Don’t let rejection get to you. I know my previous answer is quite negative but in hindsight I let every rejection get to me. It was only when I realized this did I start enjoying school again. I’m on the job hunt again myself this summer. I was VERY close to panel rights this year so I was disappointed not to get to stay on in my current school. I’ve just been to an interview which I haven’t heard back from yet. (Note: any principal reading this please just send out the rejection email so people don’t live in hope)

What role did you have? (If mainstream – what class?)

I was a mainstream teacher. Teaching sixth class.

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

The staff at the school I was working in had completed their Droichead training and knew me so well that they suggested it because they knew I would fall to pieces at the unexpected arrival of an inspector. It was a small school so they weren’t obliged to undertake Droichead and I’m very thankful for them doing what was I my best interest.

How did you find the process?

I enjoyed it. My PST were very supportive but were also aware that I had experience teaching so worked on sharing tips and pointers in the most considerate way possible.

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

My mentor was another teacher in the school. She was very helpful and tried as best she could to support me when I needed it. I became friendly with other teachers and they became a great sounding board for me too. The PST in my school actually decided that they would sign off on my Droichead at Christmas (after 60 days) as they felt I was capable. We had expected the Teaching Council not to accept this but they sent a letter in early January stating that I had full registration. I LOVE the PST for this as I know most people in a contract for the school year had to keep at it for the entire school year.

What was the most difficult part?

The planning was probably the worst. I spent most of my weekends doing weekly plans! Some of the other aspects were a bit silly in my mind too. For example, the Cluster meetings were tedious as I wasn’t an NQT and some of the stuff they talked about was very patronizing.

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

Honestly, I gave up most of my weekends to get the weekly plans done. But as I’ve already mentioned after Christmas I was able to work on fortnightly and monthly plans, which I forced myself to complete a month ahead so that I could resurrect my normal life again!

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

Have a good template that you can use for all subjects. Also don’t allow planning to overtake all of your free time.

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

I joined 6thClass resource swap on Facebook. I followed a lot of Instagram pages like The Honest NQT, Teaching Tiny Humans, Muinteoir Ni Mhuircheartaigh, Rang Aoife and of course Irish Primary Teacher just to name a few! I also had great colleagues and we were forever bouncing ideas off each other!

What advice would you give to a NQT?

Honestly, try to learn from my mistakes. Don’t let rejection get you down. Ask questions because the vast majority of teachers will help you. If you don’t get a contract and are subbing for a while DON’T BE LAZY! It’s something I know that irks people. If you do work with a class, correct it! There is nothing worse than arriving back to a huge pile of uncorrected work. Treat all staff members with respect, I’ve noticed a few people think they’re more important than the school secretary and I’ve never seen them return to the school because the majority of the time it’s the secretary will be the one looking for a sub.