As the academic year nears the finish line, many schools will be thinking about induction for the early career teachers (ECTs) starting with them in September.
This usually means sending out department guides and new starter packs, and possibly getting them in to do a formal induction.
But are they getting all the information they need? When you’ve been in a school for a long time, it might all seem really obvious. And it can be hard to put yourself into the shoes of someone brand new.
I recently asked current NQTs what they wanted to know before starting at a new school.
#NQTs with a job secured: what would you like the school to go over with you before you start in September?— s_osman (@sherish_o) May 18, 2021
If you were an NQT this year, what do you wish you covered before starting teaching?
Here are some of their helpful suggestions:
How to support new teachers joining your school
1. Don't make them play 'Staff Guess Who'
“Just let Helen know, and she will sort it for you."
Who the heck is Helen? And how can I find her?
Make sure that all new teachers are given a list of names of staff with their roles, where they can be found and their contact details, plus photos.
2. Give them detail on department admin
Most departments have a shared area where schemes of work and other useful documents are saved. Let early-career teachers know where this is located, and how to navigate their way around it.
If the lessons are on software or a particular type of interactive whiteboard, a crash course on how to use these would also be appreciated.
It's a good idea to pair the early-career teacher up with an experienced member of staff, to jointly plan a lesson or edit a lesson already on the system to cater to the needs of their class.
Don't forget to include guidance on what their lessons should consist of. Every school has different expectations and these need to be shared.
Share department logins for external resource sites, too. A tired early-career teachers may pay to sign up, only to later find out that the school already had a membership.
3. Help them to go by the book
Usually there will be school- or department-wide rules on the presentation of student books. Share these and show some examples.
This also applies to marking. A general “how to mark” session is useful during the induction period, along with a chance to look at actual books with marking in them.
4. Be clear on behaviour
It was a fair few years ago, but I still remember the sting of embarrassment in my NQT year when I set a whole-class detention only to discover that it was against school policy.
It’s important to let the early-career teacher know the behaviour policies and maybe even see them in action. They also need to know which misbehaviour leads to which sanction and whether or not there are different types of detentions and praise systems used.
5. Do your duty around duties
The last thing a new teacher wants is to receive an email telling them they missed a detention or break duty. Show them where to go, and introduce them to their duty partner if they have one.
6. Speak the unspoken staffroom code
The ‘normal’ things you do - that sounds a bit stupid but things like whether people have specific mugs in the staffroom, whether you can help yourself to the milk, where to go if you need some more pens/paper/glue...stuff you probably do daily and don’t even think about! :)— Miss Fowler (@missfowlercjs) May 18, 2021
It is a new teacher’s nightmare: being caught with someone else’s coffee mug. Fill them in on who brings the milk, which mugs to use, and all of the strange quirks of your staffroom.
7. Let them know the illness plans
Although no one plans to be ill, you need to share what should happen if they can't come to school. And remind them that being unwell is OK and that taking a day or two off to recover isn’t a sign of weakness.
Run through the expectations of cover work so that they’re not dreading taking a day off.
8. Outline the expectations of home-school relations
There will be times when the early-career teacher will have to make contact with a pupil's home, whether positive or negative. Most of the conversations will go well, but there will be tough ones, too. Your early-career teacher may want more training on how to de-escalate confrontational phone conversations with parents.
Make sure they know where to access phone numbers and how to identify who should be contacted. If possible, give them a chance to listen in on some phone conversations with parents to get some tips.
9. Give a lesson in photocopier use
It's the machine that we use on a daily basis (sometimes more than we should!), so you don’t want the early-career teacher coming in on their first day and jamming it.
Spending a few minutes showing them how it works can resolve this issue.
10. Give a tour of classrooms and cupboards
Early-career teachers starting in September have gone through their training during the pandemic, when they have had less classroom time than in other years.
This means they might want some more guidance on practical issues like table layout, display boards, stationery storage and book set-ups.
And they may have spent the whole year “inside the box”, not moving around. Once it is safe to do so, arranging observations of teachers walking around and using the space in the class effectively will be beneficial.
11. Help them conquer the fear of the data monsters
I agree with people talking about the real basics. How to use SIMS or other databases as lots of trainees don't have access... Any other tech your school uses like Google drive, GCSE Pod, Seneca etc.— Ms Denton (@MsDentonGeog) May 18, 2021
Some trainees haven't had access to online registers and seating plans due to safeguarding issues, so showing them how to use these apps before they start in September will be a big help.
The data schedule should also be shared so the early-career teacher knows what assessments need to take place when, and which will need to be recorded centrally.
You should also offer some guidance on how to use your planner: what data to track in it, how to record homework set and how to track those who did and didn't complete it. All of these handy tips will make their first term so much easier.
Sherish Osman is a lead teacher of English at a secondary school in West London