- Know the procedures inside out - this is number one for a reason as unless you play it by the book, you're going to struggle and the students will know you're struggling. For example, if there is a discipline code of conduct, get to know it and follow it.
- Find someone who you can rant to - whilst you might enjoy telling the world about your nightmare class/student, I would recommend ranting to someone else in education. They are more likely to understand your woes and have some of their own which you can listen to. This can be someone in your department, a fellow NQT or even someone from a different school but it is good to let all those frustrations out now and again.
- Don't blame yourself - something which all three bloggers allude to. If a student is behaving in a manner that is not appropriate, it may be partly down to your teaching but there are going to be many other reasons why they are behaving like this. Do not think that this behaviour is solely down to you.
- Organisation is key - get everything as organised as you can before you start. Granted, circumstances will change and you will get a completely new class/have to rewrite that scheme of work but if you are not organised then that first half-term is even more hellish. You're worrying about what you're actually teaching rather than the more important matter of actually finding the classroom that you're in.
- Get to know the staff - obviously it's important that you get to know fellow teachers in your school but perhaps just as important are the other members of staff in school. The caretaker when you want to spend that extra time marking and need to stay in school; the reprographics lady when you destroy the photocopier beyond all redemption; the dinner lady when you want that extra spud. All these people will make your life a lot easier; be nice to them.
- Get a personal learning network - whatever you want to call it, getting people outside of your school to help you will develop your teaching practice. I still haven't used twitter or the blogosphere as effectively as I might have but these tools have already given me resources, advice and anecdotes which have made me laugh.
- Get involved in school life - there are some teachers who finish at 3:05 and go straight home taking their work with them if necessary. Whilst I do not look upon these members of staff as having a negative impact upon the school, I do think it is useful to get involved in after-school clubs, attend teachmeets and go on school trips. You get to know the community you're now involved in, something that was invaluable to me as an outsider.
- Still have a social life - something that I struggled massively with for the first term was doing anything but work. This did have a negative impact upon relationships and my personality as I was a lot more stressed outside of work which sadly had an impact upon my teaching. An important one but one that is very difficult to adjust to in your first year of teaching as your NQT year is more difficult than the PGCE year.
- Spend time getting to know your pupils - the initial half-term is absolutely crucial in getting to know your pupils. I'd say you need to know all the names of your pupils within four weeks in order for them not resent you. You also need to invest time into getting to know their personalities and who they are. When I think about the class I struggled with most last year, it was the class I knew the least about. I didn't invest enough time in getting to know them in that first half-term which I felt had an impact in the last few weeks I was teaching them.
- Reflect - something that we tell our students to do every lesson multiple times. There's very little time for a teacher to reflect on lessons taught but it is important to do so whether it be a blog, talking to another teacher about your lesson, getting the students to fill in a teaching questionnaire, recording the lesson and watching it back or thinking about it last thing at night before you go to sleep. Reviewing the learning is vital for a student's learning so why is it not a big a deal for teachers to review their lessons?
Saturday, 4 August 2012
What I wish I knew as an NQT
Over the last few weeks a couple of bloggers have been giving advice to incoming NQTs about how to deal with behaviour in their first year of teaching. Whilst not wanting to compete with this advice, as the advice comes from more experienced teachers, I would like to give a few tips to NQTs as it is only a year since I was in that position. There are a number of things which I wish I'd know last year, some mentioned by the above posts, which would have made my first year a whole lot easier.