So it is drawing towards the end of my NQT year and I have some advice to share with NQTs starting their induction year in September. I wish someone had told me these things during the summer before my induction year.
- Go into your new school before the start of term. Most schools have an induction day and it is important to attend this if you can. You will often be given your IT log in details and have a brief overview of the school’s policies. These are essential so that you can assert your authority from day one, and not come across to your new classes that you are a little bit clueless.
- Make seating plans. Find out the layout of the rooms you will be teaching in, or if you are lucky enough to have your own room, decide on the layout you want to arrange your tables and chairs in. Once you have your class lists (which are likely to have a few changes in the first few weeks of term) do your seating plans. I do mine on a powerpoint slide so that they are easy to display on the screen, and store them altogether in one powerpoint presentation. That way, you can drag a slide into a presentation for the appropriate class easily. I insert a table and block out the table layout and colour code the cells of the table for PP, EAL, SEN pupils etc.
- Keep a record of conversations you have. This may apply to significant conversations with colleagues, or conversations with students and parents. Try to keep a paper chain of important conversations, or use an exercise book to record the date, what was discussed and any actions to take.
- Create a marking timetable. You are going to have a lot of marking, and we all hate doing it, but it needs to get done. Once it starts to mount up, it can feel daunting. I blocked out two free periods a week to keep on top of marking and aimed to get through three sets of books a week, which kept in line with my school’s policy of marking every four lessons (I teach my KS3 classes only once a week). You will not always stick to this timetable, but it is useful to make a note of which books to take in when.
- As much as possible, make generic resources. To save time, aim to make resources or slides that can be used with multiple classes. I have made planning sheets, exam feedback sheets, next step stickers, starter and plenary resources that can be used with different classes, even in different subjects and different key stages. This saves so much time when you know that you have made something that can be used in multiple year groups and topics.
- Do not work beyond your limit. I was concerned about my work/life balance at the start of my induction year and found that around the end of the Autumn term I was working over 10 hours a day, every day. Remember that you do not need to compete with colleagues on how early you get to school, or how late you leave. You will be judged on the quality of your work, of course, but aim to be as efficient as possible. For me, I have found that I work best at school and therefore aim not to take any work home with me at all, however I have colleagues who prefer to take a set of books home and mark them in their pyjamas with a cup of tea.
- Say no, but also say yes. I have learnt that you can not, and should not, say yes to everything you are asked to do. I have been asked to change my timetable multiple times, take on extra KS4 classes, do additional work and have said yes to everything, when I maybe should not have. You need to keep in mind that you are an NQT and that it is important to give yourself time to be a newly qualified teacher. However, if opportunities come up that you think would benefit you, don’t assume that just because you are an NQT you should not take on additional responsibilities or take risks if you feel you can handle them.
- Remember how it felt to be a trainee teacher. You will most likely come across trainee teachers on placement whilst an NQT. Remember what it was like to have no one talk to you and ignore you in the staffroom. Think how you felt and aim to be the friendly face that you would have appreciated.