Teacher Nancy Mullen
Nancy Mullen
Early career teacher, Castle Mead Academy

It’s helping me become a better teacher

Nancy Mullen, a second year early career teacher on the Early Career Framework (ECF) programme, shares her experience.

Nancy smiling with a book

My path into teaching

I grew up in Nottingham and attended a great school, which I enjoyed. I loved learning and discovered a passion for history early on.

My history teacher was amazing. They inspired me and got me thinking about the world around me.

I went on to study history at university, where I was introduced to Teach First at a careers fair. I remember thinking it could be a good idea as I’d always liked working with children. My mum is also a teacher.

When I finished university, I applied for the Training Programme. I wanted a graduate scheme where I could earn money straight away and be challenged academically.

I’m now on the Early Career Framework programme and teaching at the school where I completed the Training Programme! The programme, underpinned by the Department for Education’s Early Career Framework (ECF), guides early career teachers through the first two years of their career and helps them to thrive in the classroom. It provides evidence-led curriculum training designed by experts with flexible and tailored support.

An unparalleled feeling

It makes me proud to tell people I’m a teacher. It’s such a privilege to do this job. I find it rewarding in so many ways. It’s an unparalleled feeling to watch students progress as they learn to love and succeed in your subject.

I enjoy building relationships and seeing how those students you’ve invested in can grow and flourish.

Nancy with her students

Honing my skills

The ECF programme has been really supportive in developing me as a teacher and honing my teaching skills. It’s helping me become a better teacher.

Being able to see clearly what needs to be implemented into lessons, while having concrete examples of how to implement different ideas and concepts, has been so helpful. In my second year, there’s been a focus on subject knowledge.

It’s all evidence-led and the mentors and session facilitators always refer to where they’ve got different ideas from.

The ECF programme is well aligned to the vision of my school. There’s consistency between the ECF framework content and what my school wants to improve on.

Since starting the programme, we’ve been looking at developing self-motivation. This has had a big impact on my students, especially my Year 11s. Seeing them become more independent and developing these skills for themselves has been rewarding.

Finding support and making friends

My mentor is very supportive. We do weekly coaching sessions, which are flexible and responsive to what I need or want to grow in.

For example, if I say to my mentor “There’s a class I’m really struggling with” or “There’s a certain student I need advice on”, we’ll roll on with the actions and what support I’m looking for.

This year, I wanted to work on my GCSE focus and knowledge. So my mentor has been supporting me with that.

I’ve also found support from other colleagues in my area and subject. They act as a sounding board to bounce ideas off. There’s a team around me helping me to develop my teaching skills. I’ve made so many friends and connections through Teach First.

Prioritising your time and wellbeing

The advice I would give to new early career teachers is to focus on organising your time and priorities.

Especially as you go further in your journey, the responsibilities and to-do lists get much bigger. It can feel a bit overwhelming, so use your time effectively, chunking activities and things you need to do on different days of the week.

On top of that, prioritise your wellbeing. Have time with your family and friends, or whatever makes you happy.

I have an incredibly supportive department and school. They’re rooting for me and make sure my wellbeing comes first. If there’s anything I’m concerned about, they take it seriously. There are lots of people looking out for me, who want me to do well.

A powerful community

Education is a profession where you can see the impact that you are having on the world around you. You also get to grow with your pupils, as they learn, you learn, too. There aren’t many professions out there that allow for that.

I’m proud I chose teaching as a career. And now, as a Teach First ambassador, I’m part of a network of teachers and leaders invested in the vision to help every child fulfil their potential and to end educational inequality.

Everyone is committed to the vision. Even though their Teach First programme has finished, they still hold onto those strong values and beliefs to change our society for the children who need it most.

Learn more about the support available for newly qualified teachers through our Early Career Framework programme.

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