An NQT year for many is a challenging yet deeply rewarding portion of your career. It's a year of rapid progress as you quickly find your feet in the classroom.
A cliché it may be but, for me, once the Christmas term was done, my confidence grew. So the summer term was something I was eager to reach. I was looking forward to being able to reflect on my own progress and continue to build my relationships.
But, of course, recent events have made those ideas redundant, and now we've been told that NQTs who are currently undertaking statutory induction can complete their induction this academic year as expected, provided they meet the Teachers’ Standards. This has resulted in some of the most surreal few weeks either me or my fellow first-years have experienced, both personally and professionally.
Yet most of us are trying, and succeeding, at carrying on. Below are some ideas for NQTs to help them continue their development as thoroughly as possible.
Coronavirus: How to complete your NQT year
1. Continue seeking mentor support
Speaking on a personal level, I’ve really appreciated the support I’ve received from my mentor, and benefited from hearing the insights of a skilled and knowledgeable practitioner.
Continuing regular conversations, now via a digital medium, should have two positive outcomes.
First, it will be a regular reflection of professional obligations and, second, it will provide a link to normality and routine.
2. Don’t miss out on unique CPD opportunities
I often speak to teachers, newly qualified or otherwise, who want to expand an area of subject knowledge but never quite feel they have the time to do so.
Although everyone’s home pressures and work expectations are wildly different at the moment, “free time” may not be in abundance for some, but it is still worth setting yourself achievable goals.
This might be watching documentaries, or reading books or blogs to develop your subject knowledge.
Even speaking to colleagues, as much to check in as to pick their brains, may reveal some new opportunities.
3. Use the time to redevelop or add to a scheme of work
It is so hard to find the time to tinker with a scheme of work as you go along. Now could be a great time to reassess some lessons, perhaps those that didn't go quite as well as you hoped.
Or perhaps you’ve been thinking about how and why your department does something in a certain way – now you have the time to give it a rethink or ask questions to those in the know.
4. Don’t forget to give yourself a break
Teaching is a full-on job, with peaks and troughs of work and emotions. Regardless of whether you’ve been teaching 10 years or one, this is a new experience for us all.
You might be worried about family, friends and yourself. You are probably thinking about how society will reconfigure when the worst is over.
These are all reasons to make sure that when you re-enter the classroom, you are ready to be as effective as you were prior to this enforced break.
But how will you do that? For some NQTs, that may be working as much as possible from home. For others, it may be about taking the pressure off.
Nobody really knows the way forward but please look after yourself and those around you, as best as you can.
People in education are resilient and resourceful. Keep that in mind if things get tough.
James Oddy is a newly qualified English teacher