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It takes a big heart to shape little minds

Starting your NQT year in September? Feeling a little overwhelmed? Emma Ashmore, from our Instagram community, shares all the things she wishes she had been told before her NQT year.

Stepping into the unknown can be daunting. Throw in 30 wide-eyed small humans and the result can be terrifying! So, here is everything that I wish I had known before starting my NQT year!

New beginnings

Even if you are not sure which age/stage you will be teaching come August, it’s best to have a bank of resources ready for the first week of term that are designed to help you better understand the children sitting in front of you. There are SO many great worksheets, displays and games online for this but something simple such as a circle time each day of week one can really help gain a deeper understanding of what you and they hope to achieve in the coming year.

Wait, they never taught me how to use backing paper in teacher training?

Whilst it’s great to have a classroom full of beautiful stationery, creative wall displays and colourful bunting, you need to make sure the environment suits both you and the children in your class. For example, I will be shying away from very bright colours this year as I have two pupils with dyslexia who cannot cope in a highly colour-stimulated environment. Also, do not over-laminate! A mentor of mine once told me that a display should be 80% the children’s contributions and 20% of yours.

Organisation, Organisation, Organisation

Planning, assessment, marking, parent’s meetings – everything – will run so much smoother if you keep on top of the workload at the time. An important aspect of organisation is deciding how you wish to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Personally, I don’t do any work outside of school beyond scrolling through my teacher IG account and just accept that teaching is a profession with a never-ending to-do list and I am not in fact superhuman. Some more top tips for an easier life would be:

  • Prioritise your to-do list tasks – red, amber and green
  • Cut down your marking by marking as you walk round the room (seriously, investing in a verbal feedback stamp will change your life!)
  • Keep up to date with your professional learning record to avoid sitting in June trying to recall all of the courses, research, reading etc… you did over the year
  • USE YOUR PSA/TA – if you’re lucky enough to have adult support in your class then don’t waste a single second. Create a little timetable for them whilst they are with you and target those children who need support or challenge

“Miss, I’m finished”

This is definitely a sentence most teachers dread hearing and will usually occur 5 minutes into what was planned to be a 40-minute task. My solution to this is creating a challenge area and providing children with their own challenge jotter to record their tasks in. Here are some of the learning tasks I use on a daily basis to further challenge my class:

  • Early Finisher cards – copy and paste this into Google and thank me later
  • Boggle and Noggle display great for reinforcing number and spelling
  • Reading – for those children who prefer some quiet time after completing a task
  • Team problem solving cards – great for building relationships and will keep small groups of children occupied and engaged

Did we just become best friends?

Although you may be a new face in the building, every teacher has been an NQT at some point and will understand the challenges, tears, laughter and frustrations better than anyone else. If you can find someone who makes you laugh when you feel like locking yourself in the art cupboard, that will share ideas, resources, cups of tea (and if you’re extremely lucky, their wall stapler) with you then you’re onto a winner.

Time flies when you’re having fun (no really, you will have fun)

I can honestly say that this upcoming year will be the quickest yet most rewarding year of your life. The feelings of nerves, anxiety and excitement that you feel before starting your NQT are totally normal! Relax, enjoy the year and remember that there really is no such thing as a silly question!

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"Miss Ashmore Primary 2017-18 Primary 2018-19 Scotland, UK Love all things colour, craft and organisation"

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