Are you ready for your first year of teaching?
So you’ve passed your Initial Teacher Training (ITT), successfully got a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) post at a school and are about to embark on a fantastic career which, I believe, will come to define you.
It is all a bit overwhelming being a NQT, but thankfully there is an abundance of articles out there giving lots of fantastic advice. I would like to add to that offering, outlining a few ways for you not only to manage getting through this year but to enjoy it.
1. Get to know the staff
One thing I loathe reading is that new teachers should ‘get to know support staff because they can help get things done’. I would strongly advise meeting as many staff as possible in the entire school. No single member of staff makes the school run, and understanding how everybody works together is essential to help you fit into your new home. Not only this, but you will likely find a whole group of people to socialise with outside of your immediate department. These people will be your confidants, your emotional support, your inspiration and your sanity. Remember that they are people, not jobs waiting to be done!
2. Plunder resources unscrupulously
No matter how much you taught throughout your training, it is very unlikely that you will have taught as much as your NQT timetable. Remember: it’s not just the amount of lessons, but the amount of marking and preparation that needs to be considered. To this end, you should steal as many resources as necessary. Some of them won’t work for you but may give you a fantastic idea. Others may be the foundation for many lessons to come.
You will find it very difficult to make every lesson from scratch while getting enough sleep to perform in the classroom. So steal from colleagues; from the TES; from your school’s shared resources folder; from your ITT buddies. Anywhere and everywhere!
Another thing is – you can’t be 100% tip-top outstanding in every lesson. A great piece of advice is to focus on two classes at a time, trying to deliver truly fantastic learning experiences for them and good lessons for the rest, then rotate to the next groups.
3. Learn student names
In terms of behaviour management, building relationships and enjoying teaching, I can’t think of a single more important thing that you can actively do than learn students’ names. It shows that you are willing to put in a bit of effort to get to know them, allows you to pinpoint, manage and correct behaviour quickly and effectively (and privately). Furthermore, it starts building that mutual trust and respect which is integral to enjoying your time as a teacher. It also makes your times on duty a lot easier!
4. Play the long game
You are new to the profession and, due to shortages and cuts, a lot of pressure may be unfairly placed on you. From Ofsted worries to unnecessary performance management and high stakes accountability, it is important to remember that you are fresh to the game and will make mistakes. It is likely you will get a parental complaint about something you did, you may upset a colleague, you will certainly have some pretty poor lessons where things just don’t work. These are all to be expected and treated as a learning experience. We have all been there! The key is that you learn from all of these experiences to become a better teacher.
Also, try to bear this in mind when dealing with students. New teachers are often hesitant to play the bad guy for fear of hurting relationships with students, however, this short-term gain is massively offset by the long-term loss. Stick to your guns and have a plan for the longer term; you’ll be thankful before January arrives!
5. Be yourself!
Students and colleagues can sniff out a fake very fast. There are certainly some adjustments you may need to make; for example for me it was to act more professionally from the off and ensure that I establish authority in the classroom.
So, good luck and keep TT updated on how your first year of teaching goes; do get in touch with any questions you have or any experiences you want to share.