So you have decided to become a teacher? Congratulations – you have chosen to work in a rewarding, exciting and stimulating career. As an NQT you will have already successfully completed a rigorous round of entrance tests, interviews, school placements and university essays before finding your first job. You have already achieved so much and despite the hard work the many joys of teaching have presumably convinced you to keep going. Your first teaching job will arguably be one of the most memorable and defining moments of your life. You will be honing your individual teaching style as well as taking on the responsibility of managing a class every day. There will be challenges ahead, but it is widely acknowledged that your first class is one of the most special. To help you not only survive but thrive in your NQT year we have compiled a list of some of the best tips to get you through:
A positive mental attitude and upbeat outlook will have the most impact on how you look back on your NQT job in years to come. Keeping a smile on your face regardless of how much marking or planning you have to do will not only motivate you to keep going, but will also earn you the respect of your colleagues at school. Most importantly though it will radiate to the children in your class. As the teacher you set the tone of the classroom and every lesson you teach, so make it a positive one! Children will respond far better, and work far more productively in a positive learning environment than in a negative one.
Organisation, organisation, organisation
It is so important we had to say it three times! Excellent organisation right from the start will help ensure a smooth and enjoyable NQT year. From planning well before lessons to preparing the resources in advance, being organised will help you inordinately in your first teaching job and will help you to stay calm and able to focus on what matters the most – teaching the children. We would suggest planning lessons as far as possible in advance and preparing resources the evening before at the latest.
Following on from our previous point, good organisation is key. However, it is also widely known that in teaching things can frequently divert from the plan no matter how organised you are! A great teacher is someone who can think on their feet, be flexible and adapt to situations as they arise. If things move from the plan in a lesson don’t panic. As long as the children are learning then go with the changes – this shows that you are adapting to the strengths and needs of pupils rather than simply following a plan for the sake of it. After all, a plan is just that – it is not a contract. Have the confidence to be flexible and change things if you notice a better, more effective way.
As a new member of the team at a school this is absolutely essential to ensure a positive NQT year. Take the time to get to know your colleagues. Say ‘yes’ to after-school drinks and chat to everyone at lunch in the staffroom. Having a good relationship with your colleagues will pay dividends in your NQT year and beyond and help ensure a fun and enjoyable year. As well as simply being good manners, your team members are your greatest resource and being able to reach out to them for advice and guidance will help you enormously. If you are seen as a friendly, thoughtful individual who is happy to help when needed, then people will be more than happy to help you when the time comes. The collective experience of all your colleagues combined is huge and they can be a big support to you during your NQT year if there is good communication from the offset. From planning to coming up with creative lesson ideas – the old adage that ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ is true!
Rest and relaxation
As an NQT you will naturally want to do your best and it can be tempting to keep working at all hours. You will put in hours before school, after school and even sometimes at weekends, however it’s also important to recognise when to stop and have some time to rest. Teaching in the UK is a wonderful profession but it can be tiring and so to avoid burnout it is essential that you take the time to relax. From taking a long calming bath, to practising yoga at weekends, fitting in some ‘me-time’ is as important as behaviour management and assessment when it comes to a teaching profession in London. Staying well-rested will ensure a healthy mind and body which ultimately will help ensure that the previous four top-tips are more likely to happen!