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Mind the Gap, Episode 23 — Looking Back on Our Early-Career Teaching Experience With Abby Bayford

In this episode, Tom and Emma speak with Abby Bayford, editor and contributor to Letter to My NQT Self. Written by the Academy Transformation Trust family and friends, the book is a collection of retrospective letters by various teachers to themselves as newly qualified teachers (NQT). The collection recounts tales of successes and challenges during the first year of teaching, offering practical tips to support other educators in their early years.

Tom, Emma, and Abby dive into the details and importance of the book, whose proceeds are going to the charitable efforts of Education Support. Abby describes how it started as a roundtable discussion on induction experiences and guidelines for early career teachers and eventually grew into a John Catt book raising money to provide educators with mental health and wellness services.

Abby wanted the book to be “a heated blanket” of support for teachers to take in on their own time, reading the letters and absorbing useful, helpful experiences. When organizing the writers for the book, Abby made deliberate requests for concrete strategies to be woven into the letter experiences.

The discussion moves along with takeaways from the letters reflecting on teacher experience from authenticity to colleague collaboration, generosity, and community spirit. Mentorship and instructional coaching are examined as a more elaborate and necessary element compared to early education models. As Tom suggests, there is no reason that Letters to My NQT Self shouldn’t be available for all early educators in every school.

Watch episode 22 for Tom and Emma’s discussion with Bennie Kara on diversity and equity in schools: https://youtu.be/FJHdoXweOlE

To find all video episodes, featuring additional segments from Tom and Emma, subscribe to Mind the Gap with Tom & Emma on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/MindtheGapwithTomEmma 

To listen to the audio version, subscribe here on your preferred podcast app: https://anchor.fm/mindthegap-edu

About the participants:

Abby Bayford is the Director of Institute of the Academy Transformation Trust and prior to that, she was Vice Principal at Bristnall Hall Academy, based in the West Midlands. Abby has been a qualified teacher for 14 years, working in and supporting a range of schools in the Midlands. She is the editor on Letter to My NQT Self (John Catt Educational) and you can follow her on Twitter @ATT_Institute

Tom Sherrington has worked in schools as a teacher and leader for 30 years and is now a consultant specializing in teacher development and curriculum & assessment planning. His books include Teaching WalkThrus, Rosenshine’s Principles in Action and The Learning Rainforest Fieldbook. He regularly contributes to conferences and CPD sessions locally and nationally and is busy working in schools and colleges across the UK and around the world. Follow Tom on Twitter @teacherhead

Emma Turner joined Discovery Schools Academy Trust as the Research and CPD lead after 20 years in primary teaching. She is the founder of ‘NewEd – Joyful CPD for early career teachers,’ a not-for-profit approach to CPD to encourage positivity amongst the profession and help to retain teachers in post. Turner is author of Be More Toddler: A Leadership Ed