Mrs Humanities

teacher . blogger . friend

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The Back to School Essentials

The other day my husband and I were joking about the ‘back to school’ shop for essentials. He reeled off a list of items students are required to have – pens, pencils, ruler, pencil case, bag – just to check I didn’t need any. We chuckled but then I thought about the things that make up my back to school essentials as a teacher.

Firstly, I replenish my self-care kit – tissues, wet wipes, sanitiser, plasters, deodorant, antiseptic cream, period pants, spare tights and pain relief. I keep a few sweets, thank you cards and birthday cards in there as well.

Next, I try to plan things to do over the weekends of September and October. I know that if I let it, work eats into the weekend and sometimes devours it entirely, especially in the first term, so having a number of activities planned helps to separate work and life and provides time to recoup.

Then there’s the organisation of the teacher planner. Last year I opted to change from a physical planner to a digital one. It is nothing fancy, I’ve set it up in Excel with the 3 tabs – calendar, notes and to-do.

The calendar covers the academic year, identifies the weekly timetable, has a column for each class along with columns for school events and work deadlines. I fill the events and whole school deadlines in on a termly basis so I can easily see what is coming up, whilst adding in my personal deadlines weekly.

In use it looks something like this.

Personally, I have found the digital planner more effective as I’ve been able to see easily what came before and where I’m going with each class all in one place. I pop the title/theme of the lessons for the term and shift as required. For instance, if I see that students need a little longer on specific content, I can simply shift my lessons, much easier than filling in my paper planner weekly.

At the start of the school year, I arrange the timetable by colour filling cells and then copy and paste across the rest of the calendar. Easy. If there is a timetable change, it is easy to amend. No crossing out required.

Download the template below.

Finally, my last back to school essential is determining / reminding myself of my boundaries. Teaching is hard, it is mentally and physically draining. You’re responsible for so much. You care about what you do, the students in your classroom, their progress and so, the temptation to put every part of you into it is too easy and tempting. But teaching is a job. There needs to be clear boundaries.


I’m not always good at maintaining those boundaries but setting them out at the start of the academic year helps me to place a focus on my health and wellbeing so I can hopefully be at my best in the classroom.

The last couple of years, I really struggled to mentally distinguish between what is my responsibility and that of the students, particularly thanks to CAGs and TAGs and that had a knock on impact on my mental health. This year I’ll be reiterating the mantra ‘self-care is not selfish’. I know I’m going to need to remind myself of this regularly throughout the academic year and more importantly, put it into practice.

What are your back to school essentials? Would love to hear what they are.

Best wishes for the new academic year.


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Mrs Humanities shares… Department Handbook Template

It’s that time of year when subject leaders might be considering their department handbooks so I thought I’d write a blog post (I know, first in well over a year) and share the template I use.

Now the purpose and value of a departmental handbook can be debated, but personally I find having one useful to consider my leadership approach, to support and guide my department staff and to demonstrate how the department aligns with the whole school policies and expectations.

The handbook is doesn’t replace conversations or departmental meetings, but is simply a ‘go-to’ guide and reference document for my team. Whilst my team are encouraged to ask questions and converse with me, as busy teachers if can often be difficult to find the appropriate time to ask questions or have conversations, I therefore use the department handbook as a first point of reference for the essential information.

Once you’ve a template set up, each year it is just a matter of editing which usually takes me about an hour or two in the summer term.

Let’s take a quick look inside the template (download available at end of post).

I’ve used heading and sub-heading styles along with a clickable contents page for easy navigation.
Next is an outline of the department essentials – roles and responsibilities, teaching responsibilities, quality assurance, performance management, standardisation and moderation etc.
We then go onto the curriculum with general outlines, approaches to lesson planning and homework.
Then there is an outline of assessment and feedback which provides information and guidance on feedback, reporting and assessed work for the year.
The document finishes with a brief outline of how we implement whole school behaviour and reward systems, an outline of trips and fieldwork opportunities as well as extra-curricular activities provided by the department.

The department handbook template can be downloaded by clicking the link below

Hope you can find the template of use.

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Mrs Humanities shares… managing your wellbeing and workload

This blog has been included by Twinkl among their blogs that all trainee teachers should be following.

Over the course of the current academic year I’ve delivered several virtual presentations for trainees and early career teachers. As an active ambassador for teacher wellbeing and mental health, I thought it might be beneficial to make a recording of my presentation for others to access and share.

The presentation which is provided below explores a variety of ideas, strategies and key messages to support early career teachers to manage their workload and prioritise their wellbeing. After each section, there is an opportunity for the presentation to be paused to allow for reflection and/or discussion.

Much of the content is covered in my book ‘Making it as a Teacher, How to Survive and Thrive in the First Five Years’ which offers a variety of tips, anecdotes, real-life examples and practical advice to help new teachers survive and thrive through the first 5 years of teaching, along with snippets of insight from numerous practicing teachers and teacher educators such as Adrian Bethune, Gill Rowland and Andrew Cowley to name a few.



When I’ve delivered my presentation, I’m often asked for access to the resource bank. To access please click the download button below:

I am providing these resources freely to support others, but if you would like to thank me for them, please consider making a donation to Education Support or something smaller to my Ko-Fi account which helps to keep my site running.


What advice would you give to early career teachers? I’d love to collate the advice of others, so please feel free to leave a comment with your top tips.

Hope you find the resources useful.


Mrs Humanities shares… my remote teaching friendly PowerPoint template.

Now that we’ve been teaching remotely for two weeks with the knowledge that we will be until (dare I say it) at least February half term, I’ve found that I’ve been able to refine my practice.

Despite teaching remotely for much of March – July last year, the regular changes, uncertainty and need to learn how to teach in such a way meant that it wasn’t really until June/July that I felt comfortable. Then from September to December, there was a lot of blended teaching and learning, which felt like trying to spin too many plates at once. Personally, I’m finding that my approach now, is far more conducive to learning.

I thought I’d share with you today my ‘remote teaching friendly’ PowerPoint template and a how to for setting up PowerPoints so you can type in a text box whilst presenting.

PowerPoint Template

For the first week of this term, I had to go over some content with my year 12 classes which they struggled with whilst some were remote and others were in school. So I made a PowerPoint to go through the content with them. This was actually the first time I’d used a PowerPoint whilst remote teaching.

Up until now, I’d stuck with the following routine introducing the lesson live, setting students off to work independently and then an AfL quiz or similar at the end of the lesson/series of lessons to check for understanding. They could leave the live meeting, but I’d keep it available in case they had any questions.

After using the PowerPoint with year 12, I decided I’d try it again whilst introducing the next topic. It would quite well to provide the visuals from the booklet and to engage my students in interpreting them before they went off to work independently.

After some further experimentation, a bit of reflection and some refinement, I’ve created a basic template for my remote lessons.

My template consists of the following:

Introduction slides
Slide 1 – Indicates the meaning of icons used to indicate what students should be doing.
Slide 2 – Recall questions for students to answer whilst they wait for others to arrive
Slide 3 – Slide for if I have a starter task to introduce the content of the lesson

Introduction Slide 1 – Indicates what different icons indicate.
Introduction Slide 2 – Whilst you wait recap questions
Introduction Slide 3 – Start activity if relevant

Main Slides
I have a range of slides in my template to make use of as necessary.
Slide 4 – Slide for a visual and a question
Slide 5 – Slide for self-assessment
Slide 6 – A Question to Ponder with a text box that can be typed in during presentation mode
Slide 7 – Slide to give instructions for the independent working part of the lesson along with a reminder to return to the live meeting for the plenary
Slide 8 – Plenary slide

Main Body of PowerPoint Template

Example of PowerPoint used with KS5

Independent Work

I personally, don’t want my students to have to stare at a screen for the entire hour or feel they have to complete all of their work on a device, so my approach to the independent tasks has been the provision of a worksheet at KS3 and booklets at KS4 and 5. Students then have the choice to work digitally or on paper.

Here are some examples from this week:

Key Stage 3
Key stage 3 work is set lesson by lesson. Students can work digitally, on a print out or in their books. Students only submit specified pieces of work for assessment.

Key Stage 4
Students are given an outline of when to do each section of the booklet. My live part of the lesson introduces the content, they work on the specified pages and return for a review at the end. Students submit the finished booklet for checking.

Example of a GCSE Case Study Booklet
First Page of Booklet

Key Stage 5
Students are provided with the entire booklet at the start of the topic section. The live lesson element again introduces content, they work on the specified pages and return for a review at the end. Students submit the finished booklet for checking.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-23.png
KS5 Booklet Example
Example of Slide

I’ve attempted to create a remote lessons with a very clear structure so students know what to expect from one lesson to the next. I’ve written more about my approach to remote teaching, learning and assessment here.

How to write in a PowerPoint text box in presentation mode

Last week I took a bit of time to learn how to create a text box in my PowerPoint which would allow me to write down student contributions or to model an extended answer. Such a small thing, but this week completely changed how I engage my students remotely.

I thought it might be a skill others would find useful so I’ve put together a step-by-step tutorial to help you to set it up and present through Teams. Download below.

I hope you can find the information, template and tutorial useful.

Best wishes,


Mrs Humanities shares… my less is more approach to remote teaching.

Despite 2021 starting off with a bit of toing and froing from government on whether school buildings would open for students or not, at least now we know we are teaching remotely until at least February half term.

Know that teaching and learning for the coming weeks will be online makes it much easier to plan and prepare for the term ahead. We can use the skills and knowledge we gained since March and implement it well as we are not going to on the conveyor belt of uncertainty. Yay.

So for my first post for 2021 (and first since September 2020), I thought I’d share how I am approaching remote teaching with a less is more attitude.

Teams Set up

Firstly I’ve set up the following channels on each team
a) General (default channel – used for general communications with the class)
b) Classwork (instructions for each lesson and any resources are provided here)
c) Extend Yourself (any useful or interesting resources related to the topic or exam specification)

I have the following tabs on the general channel beyond the default ones:
– Document library – entitled ‘Resources – Key Stage … ‘, this takes students to SharePoint where all my teaching resources are available.
– Grades – this is a grade book for marked assignments (Teacher Only)
– Insights – this tab is useful to monitor student engagement within the Team. It provides data on communications, downloads, time viewing documents etc. (Teacher Only)

How to…
Add Tabs to Teams
Add a SharePoint page, list or document library

Remote Learning Routine

Prior to period 1, I use the announcement feature in posts to outline the lesson. In the announcement post I provide the following information:

  1. Time to join the Live Meeting (start of lesson)
  2. Outline of the work to be undertaken
  3. Resources needed for the lesson
  4. How I will check their understanding

My morning announcements look something like this:

At the start of the lesson I start the meeting by clicking ‘Reply’ to my morning lesson announcement. I then select the ‘Meet Now’ function.

The meeting opens and students can join. At present I don’t use the lobby function so students enter straight into the meeting. I found myself getting flustered whilst they entered, I tried to set up any resources and welcome them at the same time. So since Thursday 7th January, I’ve been starting the lesson with a holding screen that welcomes students to the lesson, which is just a PowerPoint slide that I share. Since it is only one slide it doesn’t take long to load and gives me time to get comfortable.


After sharing on Twitter, I’ve decided that I’m going to introduce 3 recap questions to my holding slide and ask students to write their answers in the chat or similar. I’m aware that they might just copy each other but I’ll see how it goes for now.

My introduction to the lesson is usually quite brief. I tell the students the content they will cover, what they should know and understand by the end and quickly outline the content of the worksheet or booklet pages they will be completing.

Once I’ve provided the essential information for the lesson, I allow students to leave the meeting. However I keep it running for the entire hour so students can rejoin and ask any questions or seek support.

A few minutes before the end of the lesson, I send a message that lets students know the lesson is almost finished but to rejoin the meeting if they have any questions or issues. The last week I’ve also used the poll function to find out if they need more time next lesson.

How to…
Share a PowePoint slide or slides in a meeting (without screen sharing)
Change participant settings – so you can ensure students don’t take control of the slides 🙂

Work Set

I’ve tried to keep the work I set as simple as possible, so they require little instruction from me. However everything the student needs to complete the work is either included or linked within the document.

Worksheets or booklet pages general consist of the information, tasks, video links, reference to textbook pages and optional further reading. additionally, I try to include ‘extend yourself’ tasks for those that wish to go beyond the specification.

By providing worksheets with all the relevant learning materials, I hope that my students can then work through them at their own pace during the hour. At least then if they are experiencing any disruptions at home they don’t feel pressured to keep up with the rest of the class.

Here’s an example of a worksheet for GCSE:

Worksheet Example: GCSE Geography

Here’s an example of a section of a booklet for KS4:

Example of section of booklet: IB Geography

Up until this week I’ve not found it necessary to produce PowerPoints or videos for classes, but did create two short videos (Record PowerPoint, then Save as mp4 or wmp.) These were elements of the course content that students have found tricky, and despite showing a clear understanding of, some needed reassurance. The videos were uploaded to the class team and students could choose to watch them (or not).

How to…
Record a PowerPoint
Turn a PP presentation into a video

Assessment for Learning

Prior to this term, whilst teaching both in school and remotely, I’d been using Microsoft Forms to set an AfL quiz. I’d send the link about 15 mins before the end of the lesson as students start to finish off the main body of the lesson. Before the next lesson, I’d make note of any common errors or misconceptions and this would influence my planning. If they weren’t common, I’d make note of the student and check-in with them individually either in person (if in school), by commenting on their live work (if set as an assignment) or by email. If necessary, I’d provide individual support. Last week I didn’t find the time to produce them, but I want to reintroduce them this term as I found them really useful.

I ask my GCSE classes to upload their work to a ‘Classwork Submission’ assignment. Before Christmas this was after every lesson whilst they were learning remotely. I’ve now decided to make it weekly after our lessons on a Friday. I’ll do a quick check just to make sure they’ve done the work set. However, I don’t provide feedback on general classwork. Instead students can identify parts of the work they would me to review and feedback on for reassurance.

The other year I produced booklets for each topic of the IB Geography course (very grateful for that foresight now). Which has meant that Year 12 have been working from booklets since September whether they’ve been in school or at home. The use of Teams this year though has meant that at the end of the booklet, I can ask them to submit the booklet for checking. Which has been much easier than then emailing me their digital work or handing in their folders. This year I’ve also had year 12 doing an AfL quiz roughly once a week since September and this is something I will continue after the pandemic.

Additionally, I try to provide students with the answers to the worksheets so they can check and correct their own work at the end of the lesson or during the next lesson.

All of the above then support my planning. The following is an example of a resource produced for a review lesson based upon the AfL quizzes and classwork submission.

Review Lesson for Year 12 – Based on work submitted for checking and AfL quizzes

Assessed Work

My GCSE and IB students are continuing to complete PPQs at home in the same way we’ve always done using the AfL booklets they are provided with at the start of the course.

We cover content, AfL informs planning of next few lessons but no marking of classwork. After several lessons, students complete a set of past paper questions (PPQs) and submit via Assignments. PPQ influences starters, content review and revision lesson at end of topic.


Feedback hasn’t changed much at all, well with the exception of less live verbal feedback.

Individual feedback on formative and summative assessed tasks through the rubric attached to the assignment. 4 topics, 7 formative assessed tasks, 4 summative assessed tasks across the year.

KS4 & 5

Individual Feedback
Self-marking AfL quizzes
Marks and codes on PPQs using Feedback function in assignments

Whole Class Feedback
Verbal feedback (via meeting), mark scheme and coded feedback shared.

Students provided with answers to elements of worksheet at end of lesson, series of lessons or beginning of next lesson. Students self assess through check and correct process.

How to…
Set an assignment (and schedule in advance)
Create a feedback rubric

What my students say…
A number of my students have been kind enough to give me feedback on the approach I’ve taken. The most common being that the work is easy to follow, they’ve appreciated that by not delivering a lesson via PowerPoint they are able to work at their own pace and that because I’m live they can ask questions when they arise during the lesson and receive a timely reply.

I hope this outline is helpful to those of you that are perhaps feeling swamped and out of your depth a bit. Unless your school is really strict on their expectations (I know some are), you don’t need to overcomplicate things. Think simple. If you’re finding online delivery overwhelming, it’s likely that your students will too.

I’ve found myself to be quite proficient at using Teams, so I’m happy to answer questions. Feel free to leave a comment, tweet me or email.

Best wishes for 2021.

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Mrs Humanities shares… Tips for Roaming Teachers

Wow, what a week. First full week back and it was certainly different. The number of times I left my whiteboard controller in other classrooms is close to double figures. Running back in the remaining minutes of lesson switch over certainly got my steps up.

I’m obsessed with finding time-saving and workload reducing strategies to enable high quality teaching without an excessive impact on work-life balance. During the last week, I started to consider how I could prepare myself for the day ahead to make lesson transitions quicker and smoother.

The following are some of the things I’ve started or will be implementing to help with life as a roaming teacher, hope you find some of them useful.

Note: A lot of my tips, depend on the use of technology. My school has allowed for students to bring their own devices. I’ll be allowing students KS3/4 students to have their phone on silent and on their desk (facing down) throughout the lesson in case they need to use it.

Feel free to share your #RoamingTeacherTips

Tips for Roaming Teachers

Daily Setup

1. Bookmark the web pages you use of a daily basis. Add them to a bookmark folder and set it up on the bookmark toolbar in your web browser. If you’re using a laptop you can open them up in the morning with one click (see video below) and leave them open all day. If you’re moving from one PC to another, you can do the same at the start of the lesson if required.

How to create bookmark folders and open all at once in Chrome

2. Although I embed the majority of videos into my lesson resources (How-to for embedding into Powerpoints & Word documents) sometimes I find something that I might use if I have time in the lesson or if the students take the lesson in that direction. I’ve therefore been opening these up in the morning and bookmarking them to the lesson folder (see below). At the start of the lesson I open all of the tabs in preparation.

My Bookmark Folders
Sub-folders for each lesson under the main ‘Lesson’ bookmark folder.

Start of Lessons

As a roaming teacher, I’ve so far found that the start of lessons can be somewhat chaotic. Students are generally staying in the same classroom for all lessons, except for options at GCSE, meaning that students are in their seats and often ready before I am. To make this time productive I’ve done/will be doing the following.

3. My year 11 students have been given a pack of 6 GCSE retrieval practice sheets. I’ve assigned one per fortnight of this term and next and instructed that once settled they make a start of the assigned sheet until I am ready to start the lesson. They need to have completed it by the lesson in a fortnights time at which point we will go through the answers and self assess. If they complete prior to the deadline, they can move onto the next sheet in the pack.

4. For other classes, I’ll be setting up short quizzes to complete at the start of the lesson based upon last lessons work. So far, I’ve either not really taught any content, since we’ve had introduction and set up lessons or they’ve only had one content so these are on my to-do for this week. I’ll be using Microsoft Forms and posting the link to the quiz on Teams in the morning. Whilst I set up, students will use their own device (phone, tablet or laptop) to complete. If students don’t have access to their own device, I’m happy for them to complete the quiz with the person next to them and they can submit as a joint entry. This will mainly be used with KS3, year 10 and year 12.

Useful Links:
Create a quiz with Microsoft Forms
Assign quizzes to students through Microsoft Teams

Setting and Collecting Work

5. In lessons I will use the PowerPoint, Word document or similar with the instructions and resources as usual, but will be posting the resources for the lesson onto the class Team to enable students to access the digital version at their own desk or at home. This is mostly relevant for KS4 and KS5 students to enable them to work at their own pace through the lessons work. It also means that when students require assistance they can tell me which page or slide they are on and I can support as required.

6. I loved using Teams whilst remote teaching. The ability to set up assignments and feedback digitally was really useful in my opinion. This year I’m using the assignments function for all homework & assessed work. For homework or assessed work, students can submit a digital copy if using own device or upload photo/scan of the work from their book. With assessed classwork (formative and summative) students will be given a time frame to submit it within before I assess and feedback.

7. If, and this is very rare, I need to collect in books or paper based work, students will pass their books to the end of the row, a box will be placed at the back of the room and as they leave, the pile will be popped in the box. I’ll collect the box at the end of the day to save me having to carry it around.

AfL and Feedback

One of the things I’m already finding difficult it not being able to circulate the room to assess understanding and provide verbal feedback in the moment. I can already envisage that I’ll be making even greater use of self and peer assessment along with modelling this year.

8. Digital submission of homework and assessed work means I can provide feedback via Teams. Before the Summer I ensured all of the assessed work which would be completed across KS3 had a feedback sheet which could be easily converted into a rubric on Teams. For staff, its just a case of copy and pasting to the ‘new rubric’ when setting up an assignment. Once a rubric has been created, it can be used again and again.

9. If students work directly on the resource provided via an assignment, the teacher can access and comment on the work in real-time. Whilst the majority of my KS3 and KS4 students will be working on paper, this I feel is particularly useful for year 12 and 13. This will allow me to see the work that the students are doing and provide timely feedback and support.

10. I used to collect books in from KS3 students for a quick book look in between pieces of assessed work and would complete a book look sheet. Later this would be shared and discussed with the class. As my practice has developed, I’ve reduced the need for this through effective and regular AfL in the lesson, modelling and self/peer assessment.

However, a lot of that came from being able to circulate the room. My plan this year is to make use of polls via Teams and mini-whiteboards (the school wide plan is that class sets will be available). During and at the end of the lesson to check understanding, I’ll pop a question on the class Teams ‘feed’ for students to answer, review the results and discuss any misconceptions. I’m not entirely sure how effective this will be but I’ll be giving it a try this week. When or if the tech isn’t available, I’ll revert to the mini-whiteboards.

11. I can already see that modelling and discussing success criteria is going to have even greater importance than it has previously. My lessons regularly make use of modelling through one of three ways:

a) pre-created example – shared via whiteboard or print out
b) in the moment example – shared via visualiser or written in a word document and displayed on whiteboard
c) student work – shared via visualiser

Now the first two I can continue to do, however the third is going to be a little trickier. My plan therefore is that students that volunteer their work can take a photo, upload it to Teams and I will open it from there and display on the whiteboard.

Useful Links:
Creating and managing a rubric in Teams
Sharing Rubrics (Export and Import)
Sharing Rubrics in Google Classroom or Microsoft Teams
Review, return, and turn in assignments using the feedback loop

Moving Resources

Moving resources around the school, oh my. I already do a large number of daily steps, so for me it’s no different, but my arms are not used to carrying so much around. Initially, I was carrying folders, laptop, equipment etc. in multiple bags, boxes and folders. By the end of the week I had it organised as follows.

12. Invest in an expanding folder (or similar). I’m popping my printed resources in order of my lessons. I have this one from Paperchase and it fits plenty of resources in, including my A4 school planner.

13. I’ve been using slip-in wallets like these for sometime for storing paper based homework and assessed work (mainly from KS4 & KS5). Each one is labelled up with the year group. This year, I’ll be continuing with this method as and when required. I’ve stored all 8 in the very last section of my expanding folder. This week when I needed to collect in some retrieval sheets, I popped the relevant file on an empty table at the start of the lesson. At the end, students collated the sheets and one student popped them inside the wallet which went back into my expandable folder. Easy with limited touch and interaction.

14. I realised this week I need a clear pencil case or similar to keep my whiteboard pens, a cloth, whiteboard remote and the like. The majority of the week they were in the pocket of my laptop bag, but this made it difficult to do a quick visual check to ensure I had everything. To solve this I’ve picked up a clear zip-seal wallet, so at the end of the lesson I can do the quick ‘leaving the classroom’ routine have I got my… *insert list of items here*.

15. Thankfully, our students are very well prepared so I don’t need to carry general stationery around with me, but I know of teachers elsewhere that are. They’ve therefore invested in travel cases and the like to help them to move everything from room to room.

In my first few years of teaching I used the collapsible ones for dragging books to and from school, I highly recommend them. Incredibly useful.

Some examples:

To discover tips from others, check out the thread below

Got your own tips? Share your #RoamingTeacherTip on Twitter or add to the comments below.

I’m adding to the #RoamingTeacherTips Here’s mine:

Hope you’ve found something to useful to help you manage your time and potentially reduce workload. Look forward to seeing what other tips you have.

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NQT? No job for September? Develop don’t despair!

I’ve recently been contacted by a couple of trainees that have gained QTS but do not have positions for September. As you can imagine, they’re feeling somewhat disheartened and worried. I’m writing this post to let them know that it’s okay if they don’t secure a job for the new school year, that there are other options available and that there are many fantastic teachers that didn’t start their NQT year immediately after training.

So if you are a newly qualified teachers reading this and if you haven’t secured a position (yet), please try not to despair. Although the worry of income might be a concern, there are opportunities for employment available. To demonstrate this I took to twitter and asked for insight from those that have been in this position. In the rest of this post, I’ll share my experience and some insight from the edutwittersphere.

An Opportunity

When I undertook my PGCE, I was living in a hamlet near Machynlleth, Mid Wales. To get to any large ‘urban’ conurbation, you were looking at a journey of 30 miles or more. So, as I’m sure you can imagine, jobs were few and far between. It was for this reason, along with a few others (which I discuss in more detail in Making it as a Teacher), that led me to applying for positions in West Kent/East Sussex.

However, the journey from Mach to Kent was a good 7-12 hours, thus I had to be very selective about the schools I applied to. Although my interview feedback was always positive, I sadly didn’t secure a position by the end of the school year.

However, despite passing ITT, by the end of the course I was lacking confidence and felt disheartened that I hadn’t managed to secure a role for September. I went back to bar work for the Summer.

When September rolled around, positions started to appear as the term went on yet I didn’t have much confidence left by this point and started looking for jobs outside of teaching, but within the education sector.

By October I had secured a position in a day nursery, working with primarily 2-4 year olds. Initially I hadn’t seen it as an opportunity to develop, merely something to pay the bills, but I quickly came to realise that I was witnessing the theory in practice. This sparked an interest in child development and I started exploring the topic beyond the what we’d learnt on the course.

Come Spring my employer wanted me to undertake the NVQ that would allow me to go on to do EYFS management qualifications. Their encouragement allowed my confidence to blossom which made me long for the classroom again. And so, with my employers support and encouragement (they were former teachers) I started applying for secondary positions again.

I had a few interviews in the Spring and finally secured a position just before the May half term. Whilst the school may not have been at the top of my list, as it was quite some distance away and I didn’t yet drive, I was relieved to finally be undertaking my NQT induction.

The school started their new school year in July and so that was when I started. I walked into my classroom, nervous as hell on the first day. Apart from the interview lesson, I hadn’t been in a room with teenagers for over a year I was now expected to independently teach them. I think I was visibly shaking beforehand. But, it went okay. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t awful. But I was now a Teacher. That meant a lot.

Feeling like a failure?

Try not to despair and instead think of this period as a time to develop.

I know it’s easier said than done, but:

  1. Don’t panic.
  2. Don’t compare yourself to others.
  3. Try thinking outside the box.

Many of the messages from those on twitter, mentioned how at first they felt like a failure. I did as well. But a common response has also been, that they felt the experience made them a better teacher. It cemented that they loved classroom teaching and allowed them to gain experience which others that have gone straight from training to teaching will never have.

So you haven’t a position (yet), what’s next?

You may not have secured a teaching position in a school for September, but that doesn’t mean you never will. For a while it may mean you have to think beyond a classroom teacher position to earn an income, but there are many ways you can do so within the education sector.

Twitter was extremely helpful are providing alternative options. Many sent me messages about what they did in between and how it helped and developed them. Rather than highlighting individual experiences, I’ve collated their thoughts to provide an idea of some of the options out there.

Beyond Classroom Teacher

1. Supply
Whilst it maybe challenging and the income insecure, supply can provide a flexible way of gaining experience.

The positives

  • Gain experience of a variety of approaches to teaching and learning
  • You experience a variety of schools, which will help you to identify and cement your ethos towards education and how it is delivered.
  • Confidence building. Many of those that messaged me said that the experience of going into different schools (sometimes on a daily basis) was daunting at first. However working in different contexts with different people built their confidence overtime, of which benefited them in future interviews.
  • Development of behaviour management. Some commented how they experienced a wide range of behaviour management policies and techniques which have influenced their approach to behaviour ever since.
  • Supply allows you to create contacts in other schools. If you do a good job of supply, they may keep you in mind for future positions.
  • You can say no – if you don’t like a school you’ve worked in before, you don’t have to go back.
  • Empathy for supply staff. You’ll never meet a supply teacher and not make them feel welcome afterwards.
  • Many have found ‘the one’ and have been at their schools for a long period of time.

    More information on becoming a supply teacher can be found here.

2. Temporary Positions
Don’t be put off my temporary positions such as those covering long term sickness or maternity. Whilst they may not provide the security of a long-term contract, they have their benefits.

The Positives

  • Similar to those for supply teaching
  • Longer term so can provide an opportunity to complete part of the NQT induction programme.

3. Teaching Assistant
Being a teaching assistant is underrated and underpaid. The skills, qualities and understanding one can develop from the position are not always recognised or appreciated by some in the teaching profession. I’ve worked with some incredible teaching assistants with degrees and other higher level qualifications in SEN, Educational Studies etc. Yet, they were earning less that £20,000. Unfortunately, this role doesn’t tend to pay well, but the experience gained can be extremely beneficial to your practice later on.

The positives

  • you see the classroom from a different point of view
  • you build relationships with students in a completely different way
  • you see pupils approach learning differently to the classroom teacher
  • opportunity to put into practice things you learnt during training
  • experience in different year groups and school contexts

4. Resource Publishers
Why not consider applying for positions or sending resources you’ve made to companies that specialise in the publication of teaching resources? There are companies that specilise in key stage and/or subject specific resources as well as subject associations that encourage and pay teachers for creating and sharing resources through them. On occasions there are opportunities for contracted employment with them as well. Whilst the income may not be large or even regular, it can be a useful experience for the CV.

The positives

  • You’ll gain experience in creating classroom resources
  • You’ll also add to your personal resource bank
  • Develop your curriculum and/or subject knowledge
  • You may develop skills in project management

Teach Secondary

5. Alternatively, publish your own resources
Whilst it may not make a huge amount, it can be a developmental experience. As with publishing with a company, organisation or subject association it’ll provide you with new knowledge and skills. Whilst also providing an entrepreneurial opportunity.

The positives

  • similar to publishing with resource publishers, except you have control. You can decide the design, format, topic etc.
  • development of business and entrepreneurial skills
  • you can do this around other employment

6. Education Companies and Organisations
When I considered leaving the profession back in Spring 2016, I started exploring other options. Whilst I never ended up sending applications, I wrote a number for education based companies. If it hadn’t been for the fact that I wouldn’t have been able to start until the end of July, I may have even sent some. Many looked just as fulfilling as classroom teaching but without the pressure, responsibility and hours.

The positives

  • A different perspective on education
  • Insight into how companies and organisations work with schools
  • Networking possibilities
  • Dependent on the focus of the company you may learn about an aspect of education you previously had little knowledge of e.g. educational technology

7. Charities
Most charities have an education team. Whilst positions usually do not pay well, they can be opportunity to feel like you are working towards something bigger through education. When I interned with Global Action Plan prior to my PGCE, I absolutely loved working on the EcoTeams programme. Whilst I worked on organising events across the country and preparing the resources for them I not only learnt about sustainable living but how to deliver courses to adults of all ages.

The positives

  • Experience of education from a different perspective
  • May involve resource creation and development
  • Can involve the creation of courses, training or workshops
  • May provide opportunities to go into schools and deliver workshops or educational packages
  • May provide opportunities to deliver courses, training or workshops to adult learners
  • Allows for networking

8. Tutoring
Usually tutoring takes place either 1-1 or within small groups, and whilst it may not be a 9-5 job, it can provide you with the opportunity to work in your chosen subject or key stage.

The positives

  • Often, tutoring sessions are outside of school hours, which means you can arrange them around other work
  • Working with small numbers of students
  • Little preparation
  • Develop knowledge and understanding of exam specifications if at KS4 or 5.
  • Can test different approaches and strategies for teaching and learning
  • Explore ways of building positive relationships with young people

9. Pastoral Roles
Whilst you’re not in a direct teaching role, a pastoral role can be beneficial in helping you to develop the skills and qualities that allow you to build effective, working relationships with students. There are schools that are happy to take applications for pastoral roles from people without teaching experience. The fact that you have QTS maybe beneficial here and lead to future employment.

The positives

  • Working with young people from a different perspective
  • Opportunity to develop skills and qualities that allow you develop effective, working relationships with students
  • Insight into pastoral work, beneficial if it’s a route you’re thinking of going down later on

10. Other educational settings
As I did, you may like to look at other or alternative educational settings such as day nurseries, pre-schools, colleges or universities. Whilst they may not provide the opportunity to teach directly, they can be helpful in maintaining that connection to education. you may even wish to look at applying for teaching positions in other key stages or look at solely pastoral roles.

The positives

  • Maintains link to primary, secondary or further education
  • Opportunity to experience other settings providing insight into what comes before/after the stage at which you trained

Possible challenges

Whilst there are many options available, they obviously come with challenges. These are some of the areas that I and others have experienced as a result. However, do not let them worry you. For many of us, these challenges turned out well.

  • Positions may be low paid compared to new teacher salaries
  • You many need to work several jobs in order to supplement education based work such as supply or tutoring
  • You may feel financially insecure – but there are organisations like Education Support Partnership that can potentially provide financial support.
  • Loss of confidence. Many felt that initially they lost confidence, but as they gained experience in other areas, it slowly returned.
  • Expect the unexpected. You may end up working somewhere you never anticipated such as a supermarket, pub or pharmacy. Those that did, said that despite not being in education, they enjoyed the roles as it was something different and gave them further life experience.

Going Forward

So what do you do now?

1. Keep applying for positions

Whilst working elsewhere ensure you keep applying for the positions that you feel attracted to. However, don’t feel you need to apply to everything out of desperation. Something will find you eventually.

Some of the benefits of continuing to apply as highlighted by those that messaged me include:

  • any interviews provide an opportunity to network
  • school visits and interviews allow you to build up contacts which maybe beneficial in the future
  • each interview developed interview technique, some benefited from increased confidence
  • talking to staff at the schools was helpful and insightful
  • visiting numerous schools cemented what they did and didn’t like in a school
  • they felt more resilient by the time they started their NQT induction
  • experiencing a number of schools meant they learnt that you shouldn’t just go by what is on the school web page – schools can be very different (positively and negatively) to what they portray

2. Maintain contact with your training schools (if you had a positive experience with them)
Stay in contact just in case something arises in the near or even distant future.

3. Widen your search
For some it maybe that you need to widen your search area, this may mean a longer commute or even a move. This is what I did, whilst it wasn’t ideal, it was doable.

4. Application and Interview Technique
You may wish to ask someone experienced to look over your application and in particular your letter or statement of application. Always ensure you individualise your application to the school you are applying to. I used to have a generic template which outlined my ethos, my previous experiences and how my qualifications influenced how I teach. Firstly, I would consider how my ethos and the school ethos relate, and add this in. Then I would take the job specification and adapt my content to the requirements of the school. When I did this, I always got an interview. The few times I did a ‘last minute’ generic application, it was obvious I hadn’t done my research and I wouldn’t be invited for interview. Correlation? Maybe.

My friend Tom Rogers, @RogersHistory has set up this course to help with this element.

5. Network and connect
Edutwitter these days seems to be a positive place to network and connect with teachers and school leaders making it possible to reach out and ask for support and guidance. I’ve seen a number of teachers ask about positions in particular areas and discussions have then led them to a job. There are plenty out their willing to support.

Get in touch

The following are some of those that messaged me and are happy to share their experiences and advice on the routes they took before undertaking their NQT induction.

Victoria Hewett @MrsHumanities – Other educational setting
Teaching for Teachers @CherylC65378170 – Supply
Nicola @warrender278 – Supply
MrBrooksGeog @MrBrooksGeog – Supply
Jodie Waters @HistoryWaters – Supply
Miss Wood @PEMissWood – Application Advice
MrsMc @clmckimm – Moved location
Sarah Gooch @gucci22 – Supply
Hannah McCarthy @HannahCarey4 – Maternity cover
Ms G @SWprimaryHT – Supply and Application Advice
Mrs M @KAOMoreton – Supply
Harriet Cornwell @First_Floor_8 – Supply

If you’re an early career teacher still looking for that first post you might also be interested in the facebook group that has recently been set up by Lorren Brennan @BrennanLorren, as a support space for those in this position.

If you’re reading this post but haven’t used twitter for professional purposes or are new to it, you might find this post of mine useful.

I really hope that if you are newly qualified teacher and happen to be in this position, that this post has provided you with some useful insight and the confidence that it will be okay eventually. You might not have a position for September, but something will arise. You will learn and develop during this in-between period and as many of those that messaged me have said, it’ll make you an even better teacher.

Before I say goodbye, I should probably plug my book, Making it as a Teacher. It’s full of ideas, advice and inspiration to support early career teachers through the first 5 years. Grab a copy here.

Best wishes,


Resource – Geography Recommended Reading Sheet

If you are looking to encourage students to read beyond the specification, here’s a sheet that maybe of use for geography.

I’m really fortunate that we have an ever-growing library and an incredible librarian that supports and promotes reading and research across the school. These are a small selection of the books that occupy the shelves of the school library.

Click the download button below to grab a copy*

*affiliate links embedded

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Resource – Keep Learning Sheets

The other day I shared my ‘Keep learning…’ sheet to help year 11 and year 13 to continue learning despite the cancellation of this year’s exams.

Since then others have downloaded the template and made there own for a wide range of subjects.

Initially I added them to the original post however the numbers are rapidly increasing and the post has gone from one page to two. To make it easier, I’ve collated them into a single folder.

Click here to access the sheets

A massive thank you to all those that have already shared their version. And if you have made your own version and you are happy to share it, either pop it in cloud storage and DM me a link or email me at

Hope you can make use of the resources so kindly shared.

Best wishes,


Resource – Continued Learning for KS4 and KS5

Last week when it was announced that GCSE exams were cancelled, I was heartbroken for my incredibly hardworking year 11 students. Many I’d taught for 3 or 4 years, they were excelling and I knew this year groups results were going to be phenomenal. However, they’re also not just a grade. They’ve grown into incredible young adults; conscientious, humorous and down right awesome geographers.

When the IB exam cancellations were announced on Monday, felt exactly the same for them. Some of my year 13 IB class, again I’d taught for 4 years. I even dedicated ‘Making it as a Teacher’ to their GCSE class.

Yet, I believe I hadn’t merely been developing my students abilities to pass exams. Instead I’d been teaching them to become life long learners… hopefully even geographers.

In order to keep them engaged with learning and the geographical world, my team and I came up with a list of books, articles, podcasts etc. we thought students would find interesting whether or not they are continuing with geography next year.

I then turned our suggestions into the following sheet. The content is divided into books, articles, documentaries & movies, podcasts and TV shows. All images are hyperlinked.

I’ve uploaded the geography one as a PDF and editable Word document, in addition to a general template for other subjects to amend.

You can access the resources freely here.

In order to edit, you will need to download the resources.

Hope you and your students can find it of use.

Best wishes,

keep learning sheet for key stage 4 and 5 students