How to survive your first year of teaching

Form relationships with everyone

Number one on my list is forming relationships with everyone at my school. The NQT year can be an isolating experience, with many of the stories I have read and heard about involving NQT’s who are struggling, centring around them feeling isolated, overwhelmed and alone at their school. I have made a conscious effort to form relationships with staff across different departments, positions, and levels of seniority at my school and can honestly say that it has made my working life all the better. I would urge any NQT’s to forge such relationships, you won’t regret it!

Speak up in staff meetings

One thing that every teacher knows all too well is the weekly staff meeting! As an NQT it is, of course, important to be respectful towards more experienced staff and listen carefully to their ideas and experiences. I decided by the third meeting that I would be myself and contribute. I can honestly say that this meeting was a turning point in my time as an NQT. I went from feeling like an anomaly, to feeling like one of the real teachers. I found that the positive acknowledgement that I received from colleagues gave me a real boost and made me feel that I was now able to make a genuine contribution to the way the school operated.

Befriend core subject leaders

This is something that I can honestly say has happened to me unintentionally. I can safely say that the two core subject leaders at my school have become two of my closest friends over the past couple of years. Whilst I am fortunate that this situation has arisen for myself, I would urge any NQT to make a real effort to befriend the core subject leaders at their school. Being able to approach the English and Maths leaders at my school allows me first hand insight into new schemes of work, recent training they may have been on, good and bad lessons they have recently taught, clear insight into the marking policy, regular chances to see what their books look like, and above all, two really great teachers who I can access 24/7 (teachers don’t sleep). As an NQT it could be easy to see subject leaders as intimidating or scary but they really aren’t, get to know them and it will help you massively. 

Approach marking with the right mind-set

Marking is a word that strikes fear, anger, and dread into many a teacher. The thought of staring up a mountain of books, armed with nothing but a Bic 4 Colour Multi-Function Pen is enough to make many tremble. I admit that there are times that marking puts a dampener on the evening’s plans, however on the whole I think that it is something that can be extremely rewarding, as well as insightful. If approached with a positive attitude, marking can surprise you, fill you with a huge sense of pride, and even make you cry with laughter. I would urge NQT’s to approach marking with a smile on their fact, you never know what you might find!

Be yourself and let your personality shine through

After a year of Teacher Training, weekly observations, evidence gathering and job interviews it would be easy to see the NQT year as a chance to take stock and teach in a safe, solid way. I would urge any NQT’s reading this to finish each school day feeling that they have allowed themselves to show their class and colleagues the true version of themselves. Teaching is a job that requires personality in abundance. I can’t stress enough how much fun the school day is if you let your personality shine through and be yourself with your class and colleagues. Teachers need to be individual, we are not robots, and the children know this. Be yourself, be silly and enjoy it!

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