Surviving your NQT year!
By Cameron White, PE Teacher (NQT +1)
Making the decision to step into teaching can be incredibly rewarding. It’s a great profession with numerous challenges that happen on a daily basis. None more so is the first year as an NQT. The year is certainly eventful. Getting to grips with new classes, learning new systems and strategies, working on classroom management, tweaking your approach to planning; all are a great benefit. It is a year full of support, advice and guidance. Working closely with a NQT mentor and colleagues can be a great asset as you develop your practice. Observing lessons and being observed yourself can help stretch your understanding of the profession. It is important though that you use it wisely and ensure you keep on top of things. Here’s 10 tips on how to successfully manage and pass your NQT year:
- Keep updating your standards. This is key as it will give you the evidence that is needed to pass your NQT year. Throughout the year you will be completing the standards without knowing it but it is far easier to record the information at the time than having to remember them in a mad rush at the end of the year.
- Use the time with your mentor wisely. You might only have an hour a fortnight so you must use this time well. Whether it is tips and hints, planning or receiving feedback from lesson observations, ensure that it is as productive a time as possible.
- Make targets that are achievable. These targets must be realistic and thought through so that they are able to be evidenced in your NQT folder. Challenge yourself but don’t set targets that may be too unachievable. Plan them with your mentor, break them down into chunks and keep track on your progress in meeting them.
- Regularly observe other teachers (not just your subject). It is vital that you observe other teachers practices even if it is not your subject. They may have students that you find difficult to teach but have methods to control behaviour that you might never have thought about. Observing good practice can only help you with tips and advice that you can use in your lessons.
- Keep on top of your folder. Time will fly and it is impossible to complete your folder in the last two weeks of your NQT year. Every week you should be adding to your folder and ticking off as many standards as you can. You won’t do it justice as you will forget things that happened in earlier terms.
- Make sure you use emails and correspondence as evidence. Collect these throughout the year. You should be keeping a bank of emails that you can use for evidence. It shows the day to day things that you might not have considered. It also shows the impact that you have had within school and the process you have taken. There might be evidence in emails to a standard that you had previously found hard to cover.
- Observe and share practice with fellow NQT’s as they are in the same situation as you. If you can spend an hour observing other NQT’s this is helpful from not just you looking at good practice but you can feed back to the teachers you observed and give them some advice they can put into their teaching.
- Use the advice and guidance that you are given and try it out. You will be given lots of advice over your NQT year. Don’t try and use all the advice/tips you are given at once. Think about how you can use these in your lessons as you may need to adapt them for them to work for you.
- Get involved! Involve yourself in as much school related stuff as you can as you will never have as much time as you do know. This time can be used for observations, folder work or using the time to plan extra-curricular activities.
- Fear. Don’t be afraid to fail and try something out. It’s your NQT year and the right time to give new ideas a go. You have the support mechanisms there to reflect on things you have tried. Give things a go, reflect, discuss it with your mentor, evaluate the impact and then tweak your future teaching.