As teachers across the UK return to school, Hannah shares 6 tips to help ease NQTs into their roles.
It’s that time of year again, that time of year where Twitter is alight with back to school trepidations and hopeful NQT’s showing off their fantastic displays. Admittedly, I was one of those NQT’s who went in to make their perfect classroom. What I really want to tell these NQT’s is, that display is going to get ripped down within a month, or fall down… or fray… or get caught, it’s not high enough, it’s too high, or it’s not going to be relevant by next year. I love the creativity and I am the first to admit; as a lead mentor to trainee teachers, I will steal the ideas of PGCE’s and NQT’s all day long. I just wish that I knew these few things.
Had to get that one out of the way, that one is a given. Emphasis on the ALWAYS. You will see teachers not following the policy and they may be right or wrong in doing so. However, they have been doing this longer than you have. Year One. Follow the policy. You should know the behaviour policy, marking policy and safeguarding policy. But, you already know that!
2. Do I have to read all the books everyone is on about?
You do not have to read every book under the sun on NQT teaching. I found two useful, Sue Cowley’s, ‘How to Survive your NQT Year’ which is a standard and Phil Beadles, ‘How to Teach’. It is snappy and has tips that can be used in the classroom. I still use it 6 years in. These are mine, but find something that you can relate to and adjust for your style. You are already a hybrid of the people you have learned from, continue to find your own style and use the books to help grow.
3. Reinventing the wheel is not necessary, or expected.
I see so many NQT’s on Facebook asking for resources and showing off what they have done. Yes, make things your own. Nevertheless, you do not need to make everything brand new. Chances are; your department shares and they have shared what works. Take this and make it suit you. Eventually, you will have a wealth of resources, which you can choose from. It is not necessary to use your six weeks holidays to make everything from scratch.
4. Where have my weekends gone?
That being said, it is necessary to plan ahead. Use your PPA wisely, marking can be done at home, (my policy is no more than ten books per night unless there is a major deadline) planning, cannot. You may not have the school resources or access to your desktop so plan in school, mark at home. You must have a break; this is something I say to all of my trainees. The best teachers have some time to themselves. They also have their to do list on a post it note, if it won’t fit, it won’t get done this week.
Today is the first time I have opened my laptop and looked at something for next year. If you work and work and work, you be ill. A lot. If it is not done by 3pm on Friday, it can wait. It is not a crime to have the weekend off, I personally believe it is a necessity.
5. Go to the Library on a Friday.
I say Library, what I actually mean is the pub, some may call it debrief, some the day centre. Whatever it is called, you should head to the pub. Be it with your fellow NQT’s or with everyone. There will be someone that organises it, find them and get involved. It will be a relief to hear that people struggle with the same students and have the same issues. Then you will stop talking shop and actually talk about your lives.
6. The power of the phone call.
Make at least three positive phone calls a week. Word will spread, behaviour will improve and students will compete for the phone call. It is also nice for parents to hear, it’s a win-win for everyone.
While you’re here..
Got given this picture as a Christmas present from my brother. I still have it in my classroom today. Sometimes your NQT year may make you feel like this. But stay strong! Reflect on what has happened how to tweak and you’ll be fine. I found adding notes to powerpoints for next year very helpful.
This was my first display, note how wonky it is. It had to put back up multiple times. I still have it, but now it sits higher up with better quality blue tac!