The NQT Survival Guide
The NQT year is notoriously difficult. Many say the hard work is over now that you've landed yourself a job, but they forget this whole experience will be completely new to you. It goes without saying that you're in for a bumpy ride, there will be plenty of twists, turns, loops and drops, but you will learn a lot, more than you've ever learnt before. But don't worry, the ups will most definitely outweigh the downs and despite the fact that you're most probably a bag of nerves as you begin your journey, this time next year you will have realised how worthwhile has all been.
As much as you read about planning, prepping and teaching itself, it's the hands on approach that will help you gain the most vital experience. So we've gathered some of our own teacher's most valued tips and decided to share them with you...
1. Love your subject
You chose this specific route for a reason so continue to remind yourself of that when you are having one of those 'not so good' days. As cheesy as it sounds, loving what you do makes working considerably easier. Pupils are much more likely to respond positively if they see your enthusiasm whilst teaching and positive relationships will result in good marks.
2. Ask for help
As an NQT, you may be tempted to get your head down and bury yourself in the lesson plans and marking, but don’t go at it alone! So much is beyond your control, and it is your relationship with your colleagues that will help to drive you through when you’re behind or confused. We're all forever learning so don't be afraid to admit you're a little stuck. There is a wealth of knowledge in the school you're working in so use it to your advantage.
3. Be kind to yourself
If at first you don't succeed, try and try again. We teach it to our pupils on an every day basis so how is it so hard to implement it in our own lives? You will get things wrong, but you will also get a whole lot of others right. Eat sensibly, go to bed early and take time out. The only way you are ever going to deliver that fantastic lesson you've worked so hard on is if you are on top form.
4. Get an overview
Are there certain days that are harder than others? Do you have certain classes that need more management? Trying to get a balance of your days will mean that you can prepare yourself (to an extent) for what's to come and will result in your feeling more in control. Remember to plan days that incorporate a mixture of skills, you don't want to spend the whole of your Monday talking and doing most of the work as this will wear you out. Create lessons that have a balanced approach and keep your mind from going into overdrive.
5. Embrace the staffroom
Take the time on your breaks to stop and mingle with other Teachers, the Librarian, the Caretaker and any other employee that you see on a daily basis. By building relationships with those that work in school you will have a shoulder to lean on in times of need. Everyone works better when they have a comfortable working environment so throw yourself in the deep end and get chatting. The more people you know, the more problems you can solve.
6. Organisation is key
Plan, plan, PLAN. Schools are all-hands-on-deck environments so you must be ready for any situation. Have back up lesson plans, research into new ways of teaching, plan for bad behaviour and make sure to pack everything you need the night before (just incase you sleep through the alarm!) No one is expecting you to pull a rabbit out of a hat, but twenty pens out of your pencil-case is highly probable.
7. Know your limits
So it's inevitable that the next few months are going to be pretty hectic. Your to-do list is sky-high and on top of that you're trying to learn school rules, names and the timetable in a matter of hours. Some of the things that you are hoping to achieve may not be physically possible. Prioritise, organise and most importantly relax. It's important to know when you're pushing yourself that little too hard. Every newbie wants to make a fantastic first impression, but this will be done with time and dedication. Don't push or rush yourself, good things come to those who wait.
8. Take the time to know your students
As expected, you must always make sure that you maintain an authoritative relationship with your class, however take the time to know what is important to them and what they're doing outside of the classroom. Talk to parents, other staff and most importantly the pupils themselves. Let them know that you are there for them if they have a problem. It can take a while to build up trust, but it will be worth it when you see a reluctant student ask for help.
9. Be realistic about your goals
Give yourself a few key goals for the first week. At the start of the school year everything is pristine and expectations are high; for example you won’t learn all the pupils’ names immediately, but aim to cement a handful in your mind each day. Have yearly targets and even look into what you want to attain in the future. A clear focus will not only keep you pushing, but remind yourself of everything you have achieved so far. We all commend our children for improvements, so make sure that you are continously praising yourself too!
No explanation needed.