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Elizabeth Holmes

NQTs: tips to help you get off to a great start

Making the transition from trainee to fully fledged teacher is exciting, challenging and, at times, daunting. Whether this is your first career or a change of career, being in charge of your own class(es) can feel so different from the relative cocoon of training. Optimus expert, Elizabeth Holmes, offers advice to new teachers.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. Eleanor Roosevelt Getting the year off to a great start is important for everyone but especially those new to the profession and those supporting them. Keep your passion for the job and your sanity intact and you’ll have a great year. The following ideas may help.

Your wellbeing is important

  1. Surviving is so last year. Aim to enjoy your work and really thrive. It is possible!
  2. Your wellbeing matters. A lot. Take care of yourself. Take time off if you need it.
  3. Never forget what helps you relax. Make a list if you need to.
  4. Be strict about the extent to which school work encroaches on your home life. Set boundaries and stick to them.
  5. Plan something to look forward to in half term.
  6. Take time each day to reflect. Just a few minutes can be very beneficial.
  7. Keep bad days in perspective. They happen to every teacher; you are not alone.
  8. Been sworn at or threatened in some way? Always pass that on to your line manager. It needs dealing with by someone more senior than you.
  9. Learn to say no. You don’t have to agree to everything you are asked to do. It’s natural to feel enthusiastic but you also need to be realistic about what you can do. Remember, your wellbeing is everything.

Professional learning

  1. Seek out some research in an area that interests you. Further your knowledge through reading when you can.
  2. Be alert to your development needs as they arise. Seek ways to meet them in school or perhaps via one of the many free courses available online or by requesting training.
  3. As an NQT you are starting out in the profession. Your early professional development is important. Never drop the idea of being a learner as well as a teacher.
  4. Remember you are starting out in your career. Don’t have excessively high expectations of yourself. You will gain knowledge and experience as you go.

Your new colleagues

  1. Get to know colleagues. They can be a tremendous support and all will remember when they first joined the profession.
  2. Observe as much as you can. Learning from others on the job can be very effective CPD.
  3. Link up with other NQTs if not in your school then in local schools or at the very least on twitter or other social media sites. Share experiences, offer support and develop a network.
  4. Ask for help sooner rather than later. There’s no merit in struggling on alone.
  5. Don’t be afraid to contribute your thoughts during meetings. Your voice is important.

Get to know your pupils

  1. Get involved in school life. Extra-curricular activities can tell you a lot about the children you teach and can be fun.
  2. Take calculated risks with your teaching. They teach you a lot and move you out of your comfort zone.
  3. Never underestimate the power of relationship building when it comes to behaviour management. There are no 'one size fits all' tips. It can be tiring and challenging to build a working relationship that lasts but it is worth it.
  4. Forget any nonsense advice not to smile before Christmas. Be real for your pupils. Share your passions for the subjects you teach and work at getting to know them.

Time-management

  1. Keep an eye on your time-management. Some tasks can eat into time so it’s worth setting limits on how much time you allocate to the jobs you need to do.
  2. Always prioritise tasks. Sometimes we spend too long on the tasks we love, leaving insufficient time for the tasks we’re putting off.

 

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