The best parts of my NQT year have all centred around building relationships with learners. During your training, just as you have began developing relationships with your learners, you are then leaving the school to go off to a new placement. Being a permanent member of staff, you are able to continue working alongside your cohorts, building trust and offering support to help them achieve better than expected progress. As a result, learners are keen to celebrate their successes with me and have shown commitment to the subject, completing additional work completely off their own back. They make me so proud each day and always remind me why I wanted to be a teacher.
As part of a smaller school, it has been a real privilege to take on additional responsibilities this year including subject leadership tasks, developing the house system and taking over a year 11 tutor group. These are all tasks I have had little experience in during my training year, but I am surrounded by excellent support from my colleagues. Building relationships with learners is important, but don’t dismiss your colleagues either. Other members of staff are a wealth of knowledge and experience, but can also be a great pick me up after a challenging day. Get to know your colleagues; there will be experts in different fields that can help you along the way. I haven’t completed a college application form in forever, so it was a huge challenge when I was helping my tutor group with their applications – luckily, another year 11 tutor has been in the role for the last two years and was able to help. Your colleagues understand what you are going through and know how you feel! They can be key in helping you overcome any challenges you may be facing.
Know your why!
You have made the decision to join this career for a reason. You have spent thousands of hours and pounds, and probably endless amounts of blood, sweat and tears to get this far. Don’t forget to remind yourself why you made that choice.
Only compare yourself to you!
It can be easy to slip into the trap of comparing yourself to other members of staff. Other trainees, other NQT’s, even experienced members of staff who have been doing it for years! We all have different journeys, different goals, different reasons – only compare yourself to the you you were yesterday, last week, last term or last year, and look at how far you have come already.
Organisation really is key!
There is a large change in responsibility between your training year and your NQT year. Ensure you keep up to date with what is happening, when! This might be in the form of a weekly spread or a year calendar – whichever works for you. Know the dates of your data drops and parents evenings etc. in advance so it’s not sprung on you the week before! This might impact your long term planning too!
Use your NQT time wisely!
You may be bored of observations by now but they really are incredibly beneficial to practice. You may see tips and tricks that work excellently that you may magpie, or you may find ideas that really don’t work for you, either is great! You might choose to observe a class that you have behaviour struggles with or aren’t sure of the ability level to pitch at and see how they respond in other lessons. Use your additional time in the best way possible to better yourself as a practitioner. You may choose to read new articles or research or listen to a podcast! Try to plan ahead what you will do during these times too!
Always keep a spare pair of trousers!
You never know when they will come in handy! Storytime! I was teaching my year 9 group who were working in pairs and crouched down to listen in to one of these discussions. I heard the rip and felt the breeze! I stood up, took my scarf from my neck and tied it around my waist. At the end of the class, I went to my car, grabbed my spare pair of trousers and nobody need ever know! You do not want the added stress of a ripped pair of trousers when teaching a lesson, or a sudden change in weather making you conscious of how every item of your clothes are soaked or smell… Keep a spare pair in your car or classroom or locker, whatever it may be, just to give you that piece of mind.