5 tips for NQTs just starting out

5 tips for NQTs just starting out

Supply is an excellent way of getting your toe in the door of lots of schools to show them what you can do. Here are 5 top tips for NQTs starting out.

As a newly qualified teacher, we know how eager you are to get into the classroom, and our development managers will fully support you with this. Before you step into the classroom, though, and begin your exciting new career, here are a few tips we gathered, and then some…

While we try to help where necessary, we’re not the ones who are front and centre in the classroom (and we want you to have extra help in the classroom while we’re busy getting you into schools) – so we’ve enlisted the help of someone who has been previously to give you the advice you need before your NQT year begins…

Sue Cowley is an experienced teacher, writer and presenter, specialising in behaviour management. After qualifying as a primary school teacher, she taught in a number of different secondary schools in London and Bristol. Sue has also worked as a supply teacher and taught overseas. We caught up with Sue to ask about her first year as a newly qualified teacher, and we got some brilliant tips too from her book: ‘How to Survive your First Year in Teaching‘!

1. Pre-empt behaviour you don’t want, by telling the students exactly what you do want.

Explain to your class what you expect from them. Try not to speak negatively when discussing behaviour – simply tell your students what is expected of them.

2. Lesson plans are not ‘set in stone’ – view them as a flexible template, not a blueprint. Adapt to survive.

It’s okay if your lesson doesn’t go to plan, as long as your class still gets something from it. Don’t feel defeated if you can’t make it through the whole agenda – you may have to stop a few times to clarify certain points of the lesson to your class, to make sure they’re following. This is way more important than speeding your students through a lesson they don\’t understand.

3. Watch out for that ‘To Do’ pile, it grows alarmingly quickly. Be ruthless in dealing with paperwork.

Set aside some time to do your marking through the week. If you’re not careful, you could very quickly end up with a huge backlog of marking, and even worse, you could end up marking under pressure. Give yourself an aim or a set period of time where you can work on a portion of it, so you don’t end up having to play catch up.

4. Look after your voice: do a vocal warm-up at the start of the day, don’t shout, sip water frequently

It sounds utterly frivolous, but try teaching a class of 20 with no voice! Add vocal warm-ups to your preparations every day before class, and try not to strain your voice too much.

5. It’s hard to give clear instructions. Structure what you say and don’t give too much information at once

Even if you think what you’re saying makes sense, you may still come across a few blank faces in the classroom. Have a back-up explanation ready in case your first one doesn’t sit right with your class, and be prepared to repeat yourself. If it helps, write your key points on the board to break down what you’re asking/expecting.

Demonstrating your ability to a school sets you apart from other applicants. NQTs we place within our client schools frequently end up being taken on as permanent members of staff. This is a source of great pride for us at Connex, because it is undeniable proof that we can – and do – serve the needs of our client schools and our NQTs very well.

And you can find plenty more tips for NQTs based on Sue’s experience on her website: www.suecowley.co.uk

Speaking about her first year as a teacher, Sue said: “My NQT year was incredibly hard work, but looking back I picked up many bits of advice I still use today (and some of the most important ideas came from the mistakes that I made!). This is why I wrote my first book – How to Survive your First Year in Teaching – to share the practical strategies that I learned.”

Many thanks to Sue for this! If you’re currently looking for NQT jobs, fly over to our job search page to have a look.

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