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Making it to Christmas – my first term teaching

The evenings are getting darker and colder and Christmas is getting closer but how is your first term teaching going?

Daniel Robertson shares what helped him when he was an NQT and how he got through the tiredness.

Daniel Robertson NQT 1

In my first term as an NQT, I was of course excited, motivated to mould young minds and make a difference. But, as the Christmas holidays loomed, one thing that I had not prepared for was the challenges of maintaining the high standards that had been so consistent during the term so far. With excitement boiling over, the enthusiasm for learning seemed to gently reduce itself into off-topic conversations, bubbles of low-level disruption and at times it was a challenge to maintain focus and concentration.

With observations coming up before a well-deserved break, this could be a source of panic that I have seen repeat itself among the trainees I worked with, too.

Here we take a look at how you can maintain high standards in the last few tricky weeks of the autumn term, and continue to maximise learning outcomes and potentials.

  1. Stay Motivated and Confident – Although it might seem that excitement sometimes takes you off-topic, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Encourage your students to talk about how their learning applies to their experiences, as this is a great way to embed contextual knowledge and boost understanding.
  2. Remain organised – With tiredness creeping in, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the number of things you need to cover before the holiday begins. Make sure to make the most of planning time in the mornings, or evenings. You can use resources like these, which are full of tips and tricks that you can use to effectively plan your lessons and cover all bases.
  3. Record Everything – With a broad range of teacher standards to meet, make sure to record evidence as you go. That way, you will not feel rushed when gathering evidence ahead of deadlines. For an in-depth breakdown of each teacher standard, download a free tutorial pack, that is easy to follow and implement as part of your own teaching practice.
  4. Seek the support of your peers – Learning from the experiences of other teachers is so valuable when developing your own style and practice. Teacher Standard 8 encourages you to act upon the advice and guidance from colleagues. So, not only do you learn from those around you, but this is another great way to quickly gather evidence for this standard before the term is out.
  5. When time allows, take a walk and go observe some lessons – This was so valuable for me during my NQT year. By observing experienced members of staff across a variety of subject disciplines is great for integrating proven practices into your own teaching, and gathering ideas to get the most out of your own classes.
  6. Run your ideas and lesson plans past your mentor – It is so important that your observer understands the contextual elements of the class that they are coming in to observe. This way, you can practice implementing particular strategies that are sure to get the most out of your students. Additionally, this will enable your mentor to see that you are acting upon their advice and guidance.
  7. Remember to reflect positively – At this time of the year, it can at times be difficult to see the positives through tiredness. Remember to write up your reflections, but focus too on the amazing things that you have achieved and accomplished throughout the term.
  8. Take time for yourself – How many times have you thought, I could just do this or that over the weekend? Don’t do it. Make time for yourself and detach over the weekends. Try to create spaces within the week for planning, so you can remain organised while maintaining a positive work-life balance.
  9. If time allows, start to have a think about the Spring Term. If you can get ahead with your planning prior to the holiday taking place, you will feel much better organised and prepared for the return without having to put lessons together during the holiday.

Most significantly, remember that you are still learning, this is your first term, and you are expected to make mistakes. Focus on every positive and enjoy the journey.

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The author

Daniel Robertson is a Digital Journey Lead for Spurgeons Children's Charity. Prior to this role, he has worked as a Teacher of English in a wide variety of school settings.

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