From newly qualified teacher to head of faculty in 5 years

A photograph of Karen Falcon

Karen Falcon,
Head of department for geography

I’ve enjoyed rapid career progression. I made the most of the opportunities and prospects that teaching offered me, and was head of department for geography at The Toynbee School in Chandler’s Ford within two years of my NQT year.

I couldn’t have made a better decision. I love the challenge of raising my standards as well as the school’s, and being a role model for other teachers in my department.

I developed a reputation for delivering exceptional lessons and became an outstanding reflective practitioner. I also had a positive impact on each student, helping them develop and meet all areas of the curriculum and beyond. In my fifth year of teaching, I received a promotion to head of humanities, which is also the school’s specialism.

Getting noticed

What got me noticed as a teacher were the improvements I made to the directional and strategic change of my school. I was recognised not only as a great teacher, but as a future leader.

As I have progressed, I do less teaching and more leadership and management. I spend time listening and talking to other teachers and line managing three humanities departments, but I believe it is necessary to still be involved in the classroom as I am still responsible for student attainment.

The best thing about teaching is the independence you have in your classroom to create an inspiring environment, and having a positive impact on students’ lives whilst engaging and motivating pupils in the subject I love to teach.

Above all, you can’t develop a vision that staff can buy into and deliver if you are not fully involved in the school.

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For the first 2 years in the classroom, during their induction, teachers are called 'early career teachers' (ECTs). It's a time when you get lots of extra support to help establish yourself as a teacher.

Induction used to last 1 year, and teachers would be called 'newly qualified teachers' (NQTs).

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