What I wish I knew as an NQT/ECT

What I wish I knew with Zoe Knott

June 8, 2022

Zoe has had a passion for teaching, since she was just 7 years old, and that was because she had a fantastic Year 3 teacher who inspired her and made her love learning. After leaving school, she set off on her own journey to become a teacher, and, though the path has been long and arduous (2 years at college, 6 years at the Open University, 4 years working in school, and all whilst bringing up a toddler), she is finally on the brink of becoming a qualified teacher and taking her very own class for the first time in September. 
It's a great story of how you can achieve whatever you want if you really have the passion and determination to succeed.

In this episode we discuss ...

  • The passion a teacher has, for any subject, can transfer to the children and make them excited for learning too. And, that passion can encourage children to achieve more than they thought possible.
  • The importance of creativity in the classroom to excite children and make them curious.
  • The value of working walls as a resource for children to use when they are working independently.
  • How working for a CACHE Level 3 taught Zoe so much and enabled her to work in a nursery at the start of her teaching journey.
  • The great experience she gained after 4 years working as an LSA. It developed her expertise in many areas, including: working with a child with autism, running catch up programmes, delivering online sessions during the pandemic especially Story time with 60 tech savvy children.
  • How the people make teaching great. Training with a great mentor, a great external mentor and being lucky enough to teach amazing children.
  • The importance of prioritising, making a list and methodically working through the items (most important first) which means that some jobs never reach the top of the list!
  • Why making mistakes is so important for the children and the staff. As a trainee you learn so quickly if you you don't worry about getting things wrong and that is true for the children too.
  • Why routines really matter. They structure and guide the work of the day, just don't be afraid to be adaptable if something better for learning comes to mind, so don't feel you have to stick rigidly to the routines every day.
  • How reacting positively to children's mistakes and treating them as a learning opportunity will make children unafraid to try new things and this will greatly benefit the progress they can make.
  • The nerve-wracking feeling you have when you take over the class for the first time. It's hard because there are so many things to remember, but most important of all is to make sure you are communicating effectively with all the children.
  • How having a mentor who actively supports and advises you in the classroom is so helpful and enables you to develop rapidly as a teacher.
  • Why having informal discussions with children about their interests and life beyond school really helps build a trusting relationship that really aids their development as learners. 
  • SPAG - good or bad? It's fascinating watching other people teaching it, especially when they make it active for children and use a range of different tasks to progress the learning. It's challenging when you are teaching it as there is so much to know!
  • The importance of telling children things they don't know and then asking them to use and apply their new knowledge, rather than thinking that everything should come from them, which is not an efficient way for children to learn.
  • Why there is life beyond Interactive White Boards, because they don't always work, so be prepared!
  • The importance of prioritising your work-life balance so when your workload increases it doesn't take over everything. Look after yourself and have some 'me' time, whatever that is for you.


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