Remembering back to the start of my teaching career I have sound advice I would travel back in time and tell myself. I also feel this advice can continue to be relevant for teachers that have recently moved school or are anxious about those first days back in a new class. After all, you never stop learning year on year once you become a teacher.
First of all to all you NQTs, congratulations on making it through a massively difficult process as well as a hugely crowded selection process to get that first teaching position. Although that is the hard bit, you are now left to wait for the summer to be over to begin.
Remembering back to my experience, I had a million questions to ask and no point of contact. Nobody to reassure me or even to talk to. So I though a great way to begin our TeacherRocks blog would be to give some advice and be a sounding board for any questions.
Top Tip 1 – Don’t Panic!
First of all do not panic, everyone has been in the same mind set as you are right now.
Being prepared is important and having the room looking exciting with interactive displays (more on this in an upcoming blog post) can be a summer focus.
Trying to focus on things you don’t yet have the resources for is impossible. Concentrate your energy on problems you can resolve.
Top Tip 2 – Plan With Structure
Plan with structure, not with script like detail. A pattern I was shown in my NQT year was the accelerated learning cycle.
If you already have a school suggested planning format, consider where these parts will fit in. Remembering that you starter should connect the learners to new concepts or progress from those previously taught. You must activate those learners with new information, preferably with a visual demonstration.
Next the work of the pupil in the activity. Finally the children will demonstrate their learning with a short task and consolidate with discussions. If you have no planning format get in touch, we are working on some free formats based upon this.
Top Tip 3 – Use Positive Descriptive Praise
When you meet the children, from the very first instant use positive descriptive praise.
You can not simply give out points, the children need to know exactly what they are doing well so others can imitate. “I love the way Billy is sat with his legs under the table, facing me waiting. I know he is ready to learn.”
Try this on your first day and see the other 29 imitate that. Placed alongside a good merit system behaviour management becomes much easier than shouting at every problem.
A great editable system I use is Class Dojo (check back soon for an in depth focus on this).
Top Tip 4 – Don’t Listen to Everyone
There will always be that member of staff that you have to ignore.
In a profession where 99% of people give their own personal time and money for their classrooms, we still have staffroom comments. “He’s a wrong one!” “She’s unteachable, don’t worry!” “It’s all a waste of time anyway, I just use last year years planning.”
These are just the tip of the iceberg but don’t let them influence you or your work ethic.
Top Tip 5 – Enjoy Your Lunch
Half way there, lunchtime, make sure you have at least 30 minutes out of your classroom and speaking with normal people (or as normal as you can find in the staffroom).
Do not let the pile of marking you have chain you to that desk.
As time goes on that key phrase ‘work/life balance’ needs to become your mantra. Those 30 minutes in the staffroom or an evening off from planning may be the difference between you sinking or swimming in that first year.
Thats it for our part one of our top ten tips for NQTs, we’ll be posting part two early next week. If you have your own tips for NQTs then please contact us via Facebook, Twitter or a good old fashioned contact form.