The NQT guide part 3: Your first year as a teacher

Being an NQT shouldn’t be difficult, in fact, it should and most likely will be an exciting year filled with new experiences, accompanied by steep learning curves, that’s why we have developed an NQT guide for you. In part one of our NQT guide series, we looked at the how to find your first teaching job. In part two, we offered tips on the interview process. To conclude our series we take a look at what it’s going to be like when you land your first NQT role and offer some useful advice on how to make the most of it.

Find a mentor

Heading into a new school can be daunting but finding someone who can help and mentor is always useful. You will be allocated a mentor but you may also want to seek out a good, informal mentor, maybe a teacher who has two or three years under their belt and remembers the same trials and tribulations you’re experiencing.

Learn the lessons

Your first year of teaching is a steep learning curve and a lot of lessons will be learned which will stand you in good stead for your career. A good way of keeping track of all the things that work well is to note them down because you will forget them over the years and it’ll be a useful resource for you to refer back to throughout your career.

Stock phrases

Being a teacher today is as much about the students as it is about the parents. Sometimes you’ll need to speak to parents and depending on the situation, a few stock answers come in very useful, such as “let’s make
an appointment to talk after school.”

Be organised

The stresses and strains of being a teacher are well-documented. However, there are a few things you can do to regulate the time pressures:

Keep a to-do list

Whether it’s an online portal that you log in to every day or a trusted notebook, keeping one to do list can be really helpful in managing tasks such as lesson planning and marking.

Photocopy the night before

The dreaded photocopying! This one seems obvious, but by doing it the night before, you avoid the inevitable queue in the morning when most teachers are rushing around 5 minutes before the lesson.

Prepare lesson plans

After a few years, you may not need to teach a lesson from a plan because you’ll know the subject and syllabus of by heart. In the first year, however, it’s a really handy resource to refer back to.

Look after yourself

Demands on your time mean it can be difficult to find the time to take care of your well-being. In-between marking, attending extra-curricular activities and doing your job, it can be difficult to exercise and eat well and bad habits can creep in. Plan time in your diary to go to the gym, play a sport or even to relax, switch off and unwind. Also, make sure you’re eating well. Spend time cooking nutritious lunches that you can use through the week. Devote a Sunday afternoon specifically for this task.

Develop a style

This point is absolutely crucial. One of the most common mistakes with new teachers is that they try and emulate another teacher’s style. Put simply, you’re going to be a teacher for a long time and you want to be comfortable doing it. What works for one teacher isn’t going to work for another. You can’t be anyone other than yourself so during the first year, spend a lot of time analysing what works well for you, what kind of teacher you want to be and what brings good results.
Enjoy it.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our NQT guide and found our advice useful. If you haven’t read parts one and two, click the buttons below. If you’re ready to start applying – check out our NQT jobs here.

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