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Five tips for a less stressful NQT year

The first year in teaching is tough, but if you keep asking questions and get support, you'll thrive, says Sarah Wright

Sarah Wright offers some tips to help NQTs survive their first year

The first year in teaching is tough, but if you keep asking questions and get support, you'll thrive, says Sarah Wright

The NQT year can be difficult to navigate, but here are five tips that might make things easier:

1. Keep track of your progress

Fresh out of your training, you are probably used to keeping files for pretty much everything. As a NQT, you will need to keep records of your year, which will be shared when you have meetings with your headteacher – probably around one every term.  

Keeping a file of your progress is very different to keeping your training files; see it more as a portfolio. Capture snapshots of your progress and challenges as a teacher – you’ll find it is a really useful tool to help you in these discussions.

2. Don’t over-analyse observations

Observations form a regular part of your NQT year. Don’t panic! Avoid falling into the trap of putting on a bells-and-whistles showstopper – you should be looking for real feedback on your authentic, day-to-day teaching. Your observations should be a dialogue; be ready to reflect on your own practice and have a conversation about your teaching. Remember, your mentor will probably really appreciate the opportunity to see some new practice!

3. Set yourself targets

Although it may seem very early into the academic year, begin shaping targets for yourself to discuss with your mentor.  You will naturally be beginning to recognise your strengths and areas for development. Highlighting your interests and strengths can help to shape your role. It is not unreasonable to think about your future – what might you want to lead or support on in your school? Have high aspirations…

4. Learn from colleagues

As a NQT, you are given an additional 10 per cent reduction in your timetable. This is a good opportunity to work with your colleagues – ask if you can shadow their end of half-term processes – whether that’s reviewing progress or planning, it’s useful to learn from others.

5. Keep everything in perspective

You are probably feeling like you are starting to shake the "newbie" tag by this stage in the term. That does not mean you should feel like you need to know everything; keep asking questions and understand that it is perfectly acceptable to ask for support. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to someone in your school, the Education Support Partnership is a good place to start.

Sarah Wright is a senior lecturer of primary education at Edge Hill University. She tweets @Sarah__wright1


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