Connect: The NQTs Perspective

Connect is a series of interviews all about teachers. I love hearing about the reasons people chose to become teachers and what motivates them to keep going when challenges arise. No matter how long someone has been teaching, we can listen to someone’s story, learn from their experience and deepen our connection.

Today’s interview is with Saffron Ennis. I have had the pleasure of working with Saffron as she faced the challenge of completing her induction year during the pandemic. Her resilience and determination to do the best for her pupils and herself in such a painful season has been truly inspiring.

Q. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Saffron, I’m an NQT about to complete my induction year. My initial background was in psychology, undertaking both a Bachelor’s and Masters’ specialising in child and adolescent psychology, after which I pursued primary teaching via a school direct programme, completing my PGCE in General Primary in July 2019. 

Q. What was your ‘Ah-ha’ moment that made you choose teaching?

Being met with eager, enthusiastic faces from day one of working as a teacher in Thailand sparked an interest in education that has propelled me to become a primary teacher. Two years of teaching abroad interspersed with one-on-one support roles working with young children formed the framework of the eminent role embodied by a teacher and fuelled an aspiration to fulfil this role. As a teacher, I recognise the responsibility you have, not just for yourself as a teacher, but also for the students under your leadership and guidance. You are serving as a symbol of inspiration, reliability and knowledge for these students and it is of the upmost importance that you embody these qualities throughout your teaching.

 Q. What is one thing about teaching that you wished you knew from the beginning?

I wished I had known how important it is to set a cut-off time for working; I have a tendency to get very absorbed in my work and let the hours sneakily pass by, sacrificing some very well needed sleep hours. Thus, I would urge those interested in the profession to set themselves a time when they will stop working and maintain their health. 

Q. What has been your greatest challenge and your greatest success?

My greatest challenge within teaching has been maintaining a healthy work-life balance; I care very deeply about my pupils and their progress, so pulling myself away from engaging in the long to-do list that us teachers have is difficult. One of the most valuable pieces of advice I’ve been given is that you cannot pour from an empty cup; always ensure to exercise, get some sleep and see friends to keep your mind and body healthy. Your pupils and your whole-being will thank you! 

My greatest success in teaching definitely has to be seeing one particular pupil grasp a concept that they had been struggling with. We were learning about rounding numbers to the nearest 10, 100 and 1000 and this topic was proving challenging for this pupil. However, through explicit one-on-one work with myself, targeted interventions in class and resources support, I had the honour of witnessing their security of the concept and carrying out rounding tasks independently. As a teacher, you live for those moments when a concept ‘clicks’ with a pupil and this was one of those moments. 

Q. What advice would you give to someone starting out?

If you are considering embarking upon the teaching career, I would urge others to really reflect on how much of a role model you are to your pupils and the responsibility you have in navigating their path, not just academically, but as whole citizens. Within teaching, you are truly shaping futures and transforming the lives of the pupils under your leadership; with this in mind, ensure to uphold the honour and accountability that comes with the profession and always work your hardest for your pupils. 

Q. What has been your experience of dealing with Covid-19?

My experience of Covid – 19 has been difficult to say the least. My entire family are based in Ireland, which, at the outset of the outbreak meant that my chances of seeing them were very small. Moreover, when I will see them in the future is, as of yet, very uncertain. But we do utilise technology as much as possible to stay in contact and I am fortunate enough to have very supportive colleagues and friends to lean upon. Similarly, I strive to maintain proper self-care through nutrition, adequate sleep and plenty of exercise to keep myself well mentally and physically. I am also an avid learner and have delved into new skills such as sketching and arts and crafts.

Are you a newly qualified teacher who would like to share how you have navigated your induction year in the pandemic? Contact me and tell me about yourself. We can connect via email or on Linkedin.

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