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Secret Teacher: Cut Newer Teachers Some Slack

Secret Teacher: Cut NQTs Some Slack

Occasionally, Education World brings you stories that stem from The Guardian's popular "Secret Teacher" feature. This section of the publication allows teachers to vent anonymously. Note that British spellings are kept and context is provided where possible. If you see a Secret Teacher story that EdWorld overlooked, feel free to send the link our way!

Newly qualified teachers (NQTs) may not be as immune to school germs as veteran teachers.

"They’re ill a lot," wrote a Secret Teacher in an article on "We old warhorses have come into contact with every germ, virus and bacteria that the biological soup that is our student body can propagate, and our immune systems are made of stern stuff."

According to the anonymous teacher, "NQTs [a term used in the UK, where Secret Teacher is published] are still developing this immunity and so we’d expect them to be off a bit more – rather like babies when they first get to nursery."

However, the educator wrote that "some of them are off because of stress and we could inoculate them against this far more effectively than we do."

"When I joined the profession there were different teaching standards for NQTs," Secret Teacher wrote. "My school recognised that I didn’t have a back catalogue of copious resources: everything I taught had to be planned from scratch. On top of that I had to learn a lot, very quickly. There were topics I was rusty on and others that I knew nothing about. For most of that year I was about three pages ahead of my students in the textbook, frantically cramming knowledge for all I was worth."

Newer teachers, this particular teacher says "inevitably 'require improvement.' Well, actually, we all do. But those of us who have been in the profession longer have enough experience to usually avoid that grading when observed."

"We tell young teachers that they’re just not good enough and we’ve all seen the fallout: the tears in the staffroom, the thousand-yard stare in the corridor, the slumped shoulders at the desk at the end of another harrowing lesson with year 9, the resignation letter in the second year of teaching," Secret Teacher wrote. "Why do we drive them out by saying they’re not good enough right now, when we can see that one day they will be just as proficient as the most experienced among us? What they need is time, assistance, a bit of latitude, kindness, understanding – and maybe some anti-bacterial hand wash."

Read the full story and comment below.

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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