I often share the quote above because I remember reading it and feeling completely liberated. The quote is taken from The Confident Teacher: Developing successful habits of mind, body and pedagogy (2016). It is my favourite book about education and you can read my review of it here. In the early years of my career I often felt exhausted. I was constantly chasing perfection and desperately trying to complete the endless to-do list. There’s always something we can add to our lists as teachers, whether that’s developing schemes of work, lesson planning, paperwork or even tidying up displays.
I wanted to share some advice for a teacher beginning their career or in the early years of what will hopefully be a long, successful and joyful career in teaching. I also wanted to share some anecdotes from my own personal experiences, all memorable for different reasons but perhaps some people can relate to.
Author Fergal Roche reflecting on his experience of teaching and leading in his book Mining for Gold: Stories of Effective Teachers writes that “perfection doesn’t exist in teaching. It can’t and shouldn’t”. Ross Morrison McGill echoes this in his excellent book Teacher Toolkit Helping You Survive Your First Five Years (2015), which is a highly recommended read for NQTs, “Teaching is a lifetime’s craft. You will never perfect it, nor complete your to do list. Accept this early on and you will already begin to master the art of resilience: know when to stop, when to switch off and when it is time to look after you!”.
I do like a list, it helps me stay organised. Instead of an extensive and unrealistic to-do list, I write a very brief to-do-today list with all the necessary jobs that are required of me such as replying to emails, writing reports or preparing resources. I no longer sweat about the small stuff if I don’t have to.
I do have a lot of empathy and compassion for NQTs as we have all been there ourselves whether it was 5 or 15 years ago. I was 21 when I was undertaking my NQT year in 2010. I was very young to be in the classroom and in a position of authority. I was inexperienced, lacking confidence, quite naive but also bursting with enthusiasm, keen to learn more and grateful to be in the classroom. The NQT year is undoubtedly challenging but can be very rewarding too.
I met an NQT who was actually worried because she wasn’t feeling stressed. She felt she must have been doing something wrong, or perhaps there was something she wasn’t doing that she should be doing because she was aware of so many other disheartened and struggling NQTs.
Clearly, she wasn’t doing anything wrong. This teacher was coping very well and that is the experience every NQT should go through. She was busy but she was in a very supportive and well-resourced department and she respected the fair and approachable SLT at her school. The NQT maintained her social life outside of school in addition to making friends within the school and she was just generally happy enjoying her newfound career. Why is this story so rare and unusual?
The media are often reporting a teacher retention crisis and shocking statistics of teachers leaving the classroom within the first five years of their career and the DfE have now devised a policy plan to tackle teacher recruitment and retention that you can read here. Hopefully, things regarding these issues will change. The work of Professor Becky Allen has also been very insightful shining a light on the research and statistics about teacher recruitment and retention. You can visit her popular blog here.
The role of a teacher can be mentally and physically challenging, or sometimes both. I often see on Twitter teachers debating and discussing educational topics at 11 pm at night (I’ve been guilty of this too). Whilst, I do promote using Twitter as a platform for professional development (see below) it has become clear that it can make the separation between work and home life harder for some educators.
There could also be a particularly challenging topic that you have to teach or an upcoming lesson observation that can easily ruin a good nights sleep. In recent years more teachers have become open with their struggles and battles and by doing so have helped others.
The articles, vlogs and blogs by my good friend and Assistant Headteacher Tom Rogers have had a significant impact on the profession becoming more open and understanding about mental health. The stigma of talking about work-related stress and mental health is still apparent but it is slowly improving.
When it comes to supporting teachers, at any stage in their career, we need to show kindness, patience, and understanding. NQTs need to remember that every teacher has been through this experience too. We are all in this together and we can certainly all learn a lot from each other.
Before you get the job …
This is a very exciting but anxious time. You will be trying to complete your ITT, planning lessons and writing assignments in addition to searching for a job for September. I bonded with the people on my PGCE course, but then many of us quickly realised we would be applying for the same teaching positions advertised in the local area. That can be awkward but all my friendships remained intact by the end of the year and the majority of the people on my course, including myself, secured a teaching position by the end of June.
Where you will complete the first year of your teaching career can have a long, lasting impact and effect on the rest of your career. It’s important to get this right, find the right school for you. When there is pressure to find a job it’s tempting to take any position that you can get but try to consider your choices carefully. Tips and points to consider if you are currently in this position:
- Visit the school or schools in the area that you are considering applying to. The first time I went to Elfed High School (where I started as an NQT and stayed for six years) I had an immediate positive gut reaction. The students were friendly and pleasant. The teachers I met were very honest and realistic but seemed content in their roles and I liked the Headteacher. I was also impressed with the classrooms and building on the tour of the school.
I have been on tours of other schools where I felt the opposite and knew that it would not be a place I would like to work. On my tour of Elfed High School, I could see myself working at the school and the thought of this made me very happy. Not everyone has this ‘wow’ factor experience as I did, but I had a good feeling about it. If you have an instinct about the school for a reason you are not entirely sure why you should follow that instinct or investigate it further. I’ve seen some schools that appeared rough around the edges but were actually remarkable in many ways, so we need to take caution not judging a book by its cover.
- When you visit a school, or prior to your visit, find out about the school policies (as dull as this may sound). Schools in England maintained by their local authorities are required by law to share statutory policies on their website. The information required will include Ofsted reports, exam and assessment results, curriculum, behaviour policy, pupil premium and values and ethos amongst other policies. You can find out more at:
In Wales, most schools share key policies although they are not legally obliged to do so. The policies can be very insightful. I would suggest viewing the behaviour policy. Find out how the school tackles behaviour and support their staff with this.
The feedback policy is very important too (although this does not have to be shared, some schools have different policies for different phases and departments). The feedback policy could potentially have a very negative impact on your workload and well-being if the policies promote triple or quadruple marking. Alternatively, the school could have strategies in place to support work-load. What professional development does the school offer and provide for staff? This is a school where you will be beginning your career, you still have a lot to learn and ultimately want to flourish so professional development is central to this. If you cannot get access to this information then these could be topics and questions raised at the interview.
- Ask someone to proofread your cover letter. A family member or friend can read it from the perspective of checking spelling, punctuation and grammar. I recommend asking a fellow teacher to read and provide feedback on the content. I have read cover letters that have contained a lot of grammatical errors, in additions to obvious typos. I recall reading a cover letter where the teacher had actually included the name of a different school, so I assume the letter was generic and being sent alongside different applications and this letter hadn’t been changed! It’s likely there will be a lot of applications so you need to make sure your letter isn’t thrown away because of an obvious and silly mistake. Every letter you write you will need to invest time, effort and care but it will be worth it in the end.
- Buy a new suit or outfit. You need to dress smart for the interview, it is a very important day in your career. The suit will be an investment as you can wear it again on parents evening or at an important event in the school calendar. Look professional and create a positive first impression. I was told a story about a man who turned up for an interview without a tie and was quickly sent away, whether it was the lack of tie or not I don’t know, but people assumed it was. I remember another occasion seeing a group of teachers waiting for an interview and one lady was wearing a very inappropriate short skirt. I knew my Headteacher would not appreciate the short skirt as she had previously suggested staff complete the ‘bend and stretch’ test. This checked that if we did either of those things in a lesson we wouldn’t reveal any extra skin, cleavage or underwear!
- Look at the inspection report but don’t judge the school too quickly. You don’t need to be able to quote the latest inspection findings but you could show an awareness of what has been identified as the key strengths and areas for improvement.
- Prior to the lesson observation during the interview process ask for as much information as you can, although most schools will probably provide the necessary information and data in advance. You shouldn’t aim to differentiate for every single child in the class because you haven’t met the class before but an awareness of who will need extra support and challenge would be beneficial. Remember the observation cannot be a truly accurate reflection of you as a teacher because you don’t know the class, you don’t know the students or what information they know and don’t know. Nevertheless, you can still show your personality and persona in the classroom, the observers can see how you interact with the students and communicate information to them. In an interview lesson, you can demonstrate your passion and depth of knowledge for your subject in addition to how you approach classroom management. The lesson is important, plan it carefully and have faith in your lesson plan.
- During the interview make sure you show your excitement and enthusiasm. You may lack experience but it is important that you acknowledge you have a lot to learn (you may have been graded as ‘Outstanding’ but make sure confidence doesn’t come across as arrogance or that you are a perfect teacher because there is no such thing) and show that you are very willing to continue learning and improve your practice.
- Be familiar with the latest developments and news within education. This could be linked to exam board specification changes, national policy or the latest educational research. If you are asked a question and don’t know the answer then simply be honest. Ask where you could find out more information about that area for future reference.
You’ve got the job, congratulations!
A momentous achievement and I remember feeling completely overwhelmed, terrified but utterly overjoyed when I secured my first teaching position (I was just as excited when I secured my second teaching position too, but that was different as it was an international position in Abu Dhabi and recently I was thrilled to secure my third position as Head of History at a marvellous school!).
Before you begin teaching in September make the most of the summer holidays, enjoy as much of it as you can. I won’t suggest not doing any planning or preparation because the planning I completed during the holidays actually helped with my nerves in the initial weeks of term. Don’t plan too far ahead because if you do you will probably have to adapt your plans once you know your classes. Don’t miss out on relaxation and time to socialise with others because the half term can seem a long way away.
Lesson planning and observations
Take the lesson observations in your stride. It has now been clarified that Ofsted does not require lesson plans and thankfully they do not grade lesson observations (although sadly many schools do still do this, you could find this out in your interview). Teachers have been known for spending more time on lesson plans for observations than they usually do, teachers can assume they need to deliver a “show lesson” but my advice would be to keep it authentic.
The lesson observation process is important, especially during your NQT year. Engage in discussion with the staff member observing you. Do they have a particular focus? You could explain the lesson in the context of the scheme of work and topic prior to the observation as lessons are taught as part of a sequence and unit. The lesson observation can be a very good insight and opportunity to gain purposeful feedback to support and improve your practice.
One lesson simply can’t be an accurate reflection of you as a teacher and a good leader will know that. Invite the same teacher observing you to return in a few weeks so they can view the progress and find out what students are able to recall from the previous lesson or lessons they observed. Essentially, do what you always do. Have your routines firmly in place and be prepared. Remember lesson observations should be developmental, not judgmental.
Next point …. step away from the laminator. I do laminate resources, mainly if it is a resource I will use again in the future but as an NQT I was laminating everything! I even purchased my own laminator (I’m sure I’m not alone on that one but how embarrassing!).
I would spend hours creating a resource; for example a sorting card activity. I would design the cards on my laptop and then print out a class set, cut them up individually, laminate the cards (I often forced my little sisters to help with the cutting, sticking and laminating) and then place the glossy cards in envelopes. That task could take me literally hours to prepare but it would be completed in the lesson within the first five minutes. A fun little task but not an effective use of my time. That was one class and one activity, as a secondary teacher I had lots of classes so laminating dominated my evenings. It’s about thinking smarter and please feel free to learn from my mistakes.
Linking to that point, Dylan Wiliam has observed that “novice teachers typically take around four hours to prepare one hour of instruction, while expert teachers plan lessons of higher quality in five minutes or less. In other words, planning a lesson is something an expert does as much as fifty times faster than a novice. The more often we do things, the better and faster we get”. To put that into context, Wiliam wasn’t claiming that experienced teachers only spend five minutes or less on planning lessons but generally in five minutes or so they can produce better lesson plans than a novice would in four hours. We should reflect on this and consider what NQTs do and what more experienced teachers could do to provide support.
John Hattie has discussed the importance of teachers working with and learning from others. During your NQT year spend time observing other teachers, in your department, outside your department and even in a different school. Seek help and advice whenever you need it. Take advantage of the knowledge, experience and expertise around you. Hattie also encourages teachers to plan together, as part of his Visible Learning approach he states, “planning can be done in many ways, but the most powerful is when teachers work together to develop plans, develop common understandings on what is worth teaching, collaborate on understanding their beliefs of challenge and progress and work together to evaluate the impact of their planning on student outcomes”. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel but instead use all the resources, information and support that you have at your disposal.
Become a reflective teacher. I often credit this as my biggest strength. The reason for this is because I regularly reflect on my practice in addition to my student’s learning and progress. I don’t feel arrogant for thinking or saying to a colleague that a lesson went well but in the same way if a lesson, explanation or activity hasn’t gone well then I am not hard on myself either.
I remember a terrible lesson during my first year of teaching, it was just a complete disaster and at the end of the day I felt awful and cried alone in my classroom. I wanted to forget the lesson completely and push it to the back on my mind and that’s what I did. I should have reflected on the lesson. Why was the lesson so bad? What aspects could I change and do differently next time? Author Pedro De Bruyckere offers some comforting advice for teachers, “never forget that for every failed lesson in the past, there are hundreds more in the future that will soon give you the opportunity to put things right”.
I remember listening to the fabulous Mary Myatt, former Ofsted inspector and author, saying that “we’ve all taught a crap lesson before” but that we need to learn from it, reflect on it then move on. Myatt is right. I hugely admire Quigley, De Bruyckere and Myatt, each a source of inspiration. When they admit they’ve taught lessons that haven’t gone to plan and made mistakes themselves, that made me realise even the experts in education have been through this process but it was the reflection part of the process that has helped them to progress to where they are now in their successful careers.
Daniel T Willingham points out “your experience in the classroom is your best guide – whatever works do it again, whatever doesn’t discard”. In the classroom, you are constantly reacting to students and situations. Your experience will eventually contribute to the decisions you make and you can learn from every experience in the classroom, good or bad.
Reading books about education and being research-informed is very important. Both have increased my confidence, knowledge and understanding of how students learn.
Join a teaching union. The irony is that as I write this I am no longer a member of a union as I teach internationally, but when I was in the UK my union offered a great source of support. I strongly recommend you join a union and take full advantage of what the unions can provide. I initially joined a union because I was told to “just in case” anything happens. Discovering what my union could do was an eye-opener.
I was invited to the NUT Young Teachers Conference in North Wales in 2014. The NUT paid for me to stay in a beautiful hotel on the sea-front where the conference took place and they provided all meals and refreshments over two days. I thought this would be a good opportunity to meet and network with other young teachers from the area and actually find out more about the union. The conference was very helpful.
The NUT representative clearly explained what was expected of teachers and just as important what wasn’t expected of teachers. I was very surprised by this information, a revelation indeed. Teachers are often very willing and prepared to go above and beyond but we all have our limits. Join a union and become educated about the policies in place at your school and what the expectations and obligations of your role include (and don’t include!).
Sign up to Twitter! I’ve discussed this at great length on my blog and in my book but I wish I had Twitter during my NQT year. I know it would have provided a valuable support network and a great opportunity to ask teachers, outside of my school, any questions or advice. Through Twitter I have been able to answer questions, provide advice and general words of encouragement to NQT’s that have reached out to me.
I did suggest to an NQT that she remove a Tweet, where she was venting her frustrations about her line manager on a very public forum – don’t do that. That’s where your friends and family can listen and support you. I have had many conversations with my Mum about school – the good, bad and ugly! My Mum isn’t a teacher but that doesn’t matter. My Mum listens to me, makes me a cup of tea or gives me a hug if I need it. She is amazing. I also have friends that are teachers, so if I need to talk to someone who will understand the politics and complexities of school life I can confide in them. You will have frustrations but deal with them privately or by speaking to the relevant people at your school.
Following on from my advice about social media. Be aware of your own e-safety. If you use social media make all your settings private. What could a student see if they found your profile? Carry out a Google search of your name because this might be something your students do, they shouldn’t be doing this but again their curiosity gets the better of them and a quick Google search is very easy to do. For more information about how to be safe and secure online then I can recommend visiting digitalawarenessuk.com which was founded by Emma and Charlotte Robertson, on Twitter as @DigitalSisters.
Definitely go on a school trip during your NQT year, but don’t plan one! I am not advising against ever planning a school trip but your first year is very busy so planning, leading and organising a field trip can significantly add to your workload. There will be lots of paperwork, risk assessments, trying to collect return slips and payments. I do strongly recommend you go on a school trip, even if it is not with your department you can volunteer to be the designated male or female staff member. On a school trip, you make a lot of long-lasting positive memories and have the opportunity to bond with both colleagues and students in a unique setting.
My first trip involved the longest road trip of my life, a coach trip from North Wales to Belgium! The journey was exhausting but great fun. Just like the students, I ate far too much Belgian chocolate and the whole trip was perfect for building relationships and memories. During a different international trip, our tour guide began arguing with another tour guide. My colleagues and I looked at each other not quite sure what to say or do at that moment. It was a very awkward altercation but luckily didn’t escalate into anything serious. Naturally, that was the main topic of conversation for most of the trip and even on our return- despite the informative museums and sightseeing it was the “tour guide kicking off” that proved to be the most memorable highlight of the trip!
Go to the staffroom. Every staff room is different. Some have the same teachers sat in the same place every day, either in their friendship groups or departments. If you are new this can be intimidating but more often than not the staffroom is a friendly place to be. I know far too many teachers that work through their lunch eating a sandwich, marking some books and getting indigestion. I was one of those teachers in my NQT year and that is a bad routine.
There are times I do work during my lunch break such as printing or replying to e-mails but this is rare. Most days I go to the staffroom, eat my lunch and talk to colleagues. Often a cup of tea and a chat is a nice way to break up the day and further develop positive relationships with the people you work with. There are colleagues that I would never encounter in school as we often teach in different buildings, yet at lunchtime we can catch up. Although, (I am fully aware I am contradicting myself) if you find that when you go to the staffroom your colleagues are complaining about students, moaning about the SLT and the general atmosphere is negative then I would suggest staying away. Hopefully, this won’t be the case but if there is a teacher known for their negativity stay away because there will be other people with a positive attitude and mindset that you can surround yourself with.
Take care around the local area of the school you work at, especially if you are a secondary teacher. As mentioned I was 21 when I began teaching and I was an A Level teacher, so some of my students were not that much younger than me. I will never forget a Saturday night out in Wrexham with my friends during my first year teaching when I heard “Hey Miss Jones!”. My heart sank. All of a sudden I felt very conscious of the fact that I was out with my friends, not dressed as I would dress in work and that my students were seeing me in a social environment. I told my friends I wanted to go home but my friends insisted I stay out and luckily I did not see those students again that night.
The following Monday I told the Head of Sixth Form about this situation and she had experienced something similar. After my conversation with the Head of Sixth Form she had spoken to the cohort and explained that teachers are entitled to a social life, they need to respect that and understand boundaries. Speaking to a teacher in a social setting can put the teacher in a very difficult and uncomfortable situation. The support from the Head of Sixth Form helped a lot. If you are unsure how to handle this situation find out if there is a policy or ask a leader for their advice as I did.
If you see students out in social environment I would suggest not engaging with them, if you feel rude then you can explain on Monday that you didn’t feel it was appropriate to have a conversation. If they ask for a photo or selfie with you on a night out say no – it will be shared on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram and you could regret it.
When I was in the Wrexham area during a recent visit I once again heard ‘Miss Jones!’. The difference this time was that my former students were now 25. Despite the time that passed they were still happy and enthusiastic to see me and that was lovely. I’m no longer their teacher and they are much older so I felt it was fine to have a quick conversation and find out what they had achieved since leaving school.
When starting a new job, role or joining a new school, teachers are very enthusiastic, keen to impress and make their contribution to their school. I really enjoy attending concerts and other types of extracurricular events, plus the students appreciate it too. This does not mean that you have to attend every single performance, sporting match, weekend activity or volunteer at every opportunity. Accept it can be perfectly okay to say no.
Show commitment and that you are prepared to contribute to the wider school life but do so at a time that suits you and something you feel comfortable doing. At a time when you are struggling with your workload don’t volunteer to give up your evenings or weekends. Think carefully about what and when you offer your time. It is ok to say no – other members of staff do, so why can’t you? Prioritise.
Don’t rush to get on the leadership ladder. My first leadership role as Head of Department was at the beginning of my fourth year of teaching and I felt this was the right time for me. I had grown in confidence in many ways. I had been at the school for 4 years so I knew the staff, students, policies and all aspects of the school well. Whilst, I still recognised I had a lot to learn as a classroom practitioner the opportunity to progress was perfect timing.
I was encouraged to apply for a leadership position during my second and third year by my line manager. She said I should start looking elsewhere for a Head of Department role but I was happy at the school and had no intention of leaving. It was more important for me to be at the right school than to progress to middle leadership at that point. The following year I felt differently. If the leadership position hadn’t been advertised then I would have considered looking to move schools because I wanted to take on a leadership role. I have met and worked with a lot of young leaders or leaders who haven’t been teaching long and whilst I’m not against this I have seen some of these teachers focus on the leadership aspect so much that they lose interest or focus on improving and developing as a classroom teacher.
Do things outside of teaching – which may seem like an obvious piece of advice I know, but it is easy to neglect other areas of our lives when we put teaching first. I have been told by people that I need to get a life because I enjoy reading books about education, writing blogs and my book about teaching and learning. I know that the perception of me by some is that I am a teacher geek without any balance. I was once called “sad” on Twitter, by someone I do not know or have never met because I shared a photo of an educational book I was reading on the beach. This then led to lots of other people on Twitter getting involved, generally defending me which I appreciated. I found beach-gate funny and didn’t take it personally. I ignore the comments about “getting a life” because I do have a life outside of teaching and those around me know that.
I have been very fortunate to travel the world visiting exotic locations such as Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Philippines in addition to a host of beautiful European cities. I love to read John Grisham books. I watch Netflix. I have a close group of friends, Hannah and Emma aren’t teachers and despite the interest they show in my career we rarely talk about my job. I love going to the beach, dining out, going to the cinema and spending time with my family. Yes, I do “love to teach” but I also love to travel, eat, drink, socialise, go to the theatre, swim and much more.
Teaching can become all-encompassing and interfere with other areas of our life and that is when people begin to resent this job. Don’t feel guilty about having hobbies or having a weekend where you haven’t thought about the classroom. This is something to be mindful and aware of, especially in the first few years of teaching.
If you are sick and unwell take a day off. Don’t be a martyr going into school when you feel horrendous. I am not advocating a day off if you feel a cold coming on, you should aim to have excellent attendance but if you need time off take it, get better and return to school refreshed and ready.
Remember not all advice is good advice. “Don’t smile until Christmas” seems to be very common and well-known advice. I understand that the idea behind this is to establish your routines and classroom management strategies as soon as you meet your classes. You can do this but do it with a smile. That is simply ridiculous advice, smile in September don’t wait until Christmas.
Also, people often say be kind to the cleaners and dinner ladies because you might need their help one day. Whilst this advice isn’t wrong, it should simply be; be kind to everyone. It’s the wrong message, be nice to support staff in case you need their help in the future so don’t take that approach. Kindness is key in a school environment.
All teachers have their own personalised toolkit. Their toolkit may be at the bottom of their bag, inside a desk drawer or buried in a store cupboard.
A clicker, or presentation remote as it is officially known, has become my essential classroom piece of equipment! If you are a teacher that uses Powerpoint, Prezi, Keynote or another form of presentation in your lessons then you need this tool. A clicker allows you the freedom to move around your classroom and still control your presentation. No longer are you stuck to your desk clicking your way through your slideshow. Simple but effective.
Whiteboards, pens & erasers. A classic and popular resource that works so well in the classroom. Whiteboards are great for whole class questioning and retrieval practice. Make the most of this simple yet effective resource in your lessons.
Post-it notes are a staple resource in most teachers toolkits and desks. The post-it note can be used in a variety of ways in the classroom such as reflecting, recapping, answering questions and more. If you do use post-it notes then you should check out the app Post-It Plus.
Dice and counters. From ice breakers, starters, plenaries and revision games they are useful objects to have in your desk drawer. You can purchase soft dice, also much quieter than normal dice, or larger size dice that aren’t as easy to lose!
A pack of tissues will probably be useful at some point, for you or your students. Make sure you have a stack of spare pens and pencils, a snack for those days you didn’t make it to the canteen at break time, hand sanitiser and paracetamol or ibuprofen (although this will be for your personal use to keep safe, never give students medication unless you have been explicitly told to do so). Your desk drawer will eventually become your personal treasure trove of weird and wonderful things that help you get through the school day.
I have two final messages for all Newly Qualified or Recently Qualified teachers:
Firstly, love the job you do. It certainly won’t always feel like the best job in the world, far from it but stick with it and you will realise why this is such a special and rewarding profession. If you are unhappy then reflect as to why that could be and what you could do differently? Do you need more support? Perhaps you should consider moving to another school depending on the issues or challenges you are facing, but that should be after exploring lots of other options. Talk to others in your department or school, you may not be the only person feeling this way.
Secondly, as cliched as this might be – never stop learning. Whether that be about your subject, pedagogy or educational research we can always learn more. I have had conversations with teachers who have told me they don’t need to read books about education because their teaching has been graded as “outstanding” and they know their subject inside out. This infuriates me. Teacher confidence is a good thing but we can never assume that our learning journey is over.