10 great tips to help NQTs in your first week
You got the dream job and now need to get going so here are 10 great tips to help NQTs in your first week! They have come from established, experienced teachers and are presented in no particular order! Although we are focussing on the first week, they will stand you in good stead for the rest of your career!
Tips on best practice
Schools are places full of routines. Many work to a bell to demarcate the day so right from the start you should be in the organised zone. Here are a few key things to consider from the beginning:
- Have all the key information concerning the class. Get to know their names as soon as possible as it can help build the relationship between you
- School policies – you aren’t expected to know them all word for word but make sure you know the key documents like health and safety and safeguarding.
- Organise your resources so that you can find them. Your need to feel comfortable in your classroom as this will build your confidence. If you do not have your own space, make sure you have a portable system for moving with your key resources.
- Set routines for the class – what happens when they arrive, how they leave the classroom, who gives out resources. Anything that reduces possible ‘fuss’ will aid the smooth running of the classroom and allow learning to happen.
- Consistency is the key to behaviour management. Set out your expectations from the start and keep returning to them until the class is able to behave the way you want them to. This means being clear yourself what your expectations are.
This is not an exhaustive list and you will find more ideas in Jo Payne’s post ‘Classroom management tips for NQTs’
Tips on survival
As a teacher, you have chosen to work in a people profession. It is important to remember that, whether they are small or large everyone you interact with is a person. Something else to remember that NQTs often forget is that THEY are a person too. Here are some suggestions to help you to take care of yourself:
- Use your colleagues. Now I don’t mean ‘misuse’! They will know the school and how it works. Don’t wait to find out the answer to all your questions ASK! Keep a book handy to note down questions as they arise and then ask your fellow teachers. They know you are new so will be expecting it. Make sure you listen though. Busy colleagues do not like to be asked the same thing over and over again!
- This is your career which hopefully you will develop over the years so it is not a sprint but a marathon. Don’t expect to know everything by the end of the first week! You need to make sure your expectations of yourself are not so high that you spend every waking hour thinking about school. You will, especially at the beginning, but make sure you don’t add a negative slant to it that brings a sense of guilt. That is SO draining.
- Linked with 2 above, develop some strategies to help you relax. The work/life balance aspect of a job has been part of our thinking for a while now but it is important to DO something about it. Choose something you like doing and make a commitment to yourself that you will do it regularly. Share it with colleagues and ask for their help to keep you on track. Human beings think and perform better when they are relaxed and balanced.
- Find a friend. As an NQT you are likely to be given the name of someone on the staff who will act as your mentor. There will be official tasks they and you have to do but it is also useful to have someone you trust that you can go to. By the way, befriending the caretaker and secretary can be key to a smooth introduction to a new school!
- Finally SMILE! You have done brilliantly to get here so be proud of your achievements. Be kind to yourself and understand that everyone else worries on Sunday evening. Everyone else will feel tired and stressed at times but teaching is a craft that can take a lifetime to master. Appreciate every small success and SMILE!
Many thanks to all my colleagues on Twitter who generously gave me their suggestions for this post. For more tips on starting out, check Dan Nixon’s ‘Top tips for an NQT’ and to find out what it feels like at the end of the year, do pop along to Michael Tidd’s ‘Ten things I’ve become sure of since being an NQT’
Special thanks to St Peter’s School in Farnworth for the images in this post.
Leave your ideas for NQTs in the comments below!