It is that time of year again…Students are returning; staff are trying to remember how to teach after a well-earned rest; newly qualified teachers (NQTs) are silently quaking in their boots about the coming year, unsure of exactly what is ahead for them and going into battle with various theoretical frameworks and shiny new resources. But is this enough for the modern-day teacher?
As an NQT myself, my teacher training has given me and many others like me a good chance of succeeding in education. Previously, I would have said that these courses give you what you need to be able to be a successful teacher, but times have changed. The role of a teacher is now so complex that you are often doing three different roles at once. The extra responsibility being added to teaching staff has now meant that we are also personal tutors, career advisers, attendance monitors, admin staff and mental health and learner needs experts.
As most NQTs have experienced, there is a sudden mad rush at the end of teacher training to find any sort of job that keeps us in the sector. Full time, part time, any sort of time is what we are all striving for and why we set our career on being able to make any sort of difference. In my case, I have taken on a hybrid role of teacher, coaching tutor and attendance officer. The question I found myself asking was: how can I hit the ground running and succeed in this cut-throat education sector in three different roles after only being “trained” for one?
The most basic yet most effective strategy that helped me more than anything was having a set timetable and set structure for each day to learn and deliver each of the roles. It is true that you learn on the job, by finding and doing things by yourself. Make sure you have a set area on your timetable for each of your responsibilities, ensuring you have your (ever-decreasing) time to complete your own tasks before being dragged into settle others'.
I have been lucky enough to have attended numerous CPD and help events designed to put NQTs on the right path. My PGCE institution was excellent to give me access to banks of information from many knowledgeable practitioners. Now at the college where I work, I am swimming in opportunities to better myself and learn from those most experienced – events such as Challenge Zone and Getting Ahead, plus termly CPD sessions and a mentoring system for any staff when they feel they need a sense of guidance. All of these are run by advanced practitioners in a department dedicated to bettering its colleagues. It is my personal belief that it is not all about grades of students: the amount of care and dedication institutions put into their staff is what makes them outstanding colleges. The support is there, you just need to have the opportunity to access it.
The final but most important aspect of my new role: understanding the importance of asking for help. It feels that once you finish teacher training you must be the finished article in terms of teaching ability; however, it is important to remind yourself that this is not the case. You are only at the beginning of your career and still have so much more learning to do. As I said above, teacher training gives you a good chance of success; the rest is up to you. Without the help and support of the people around you, your task becomes 100 per cent harder. Help often only comes when you ask for it; if you begin to feel alone and unsupported in your new role, this is when you need to be asking even more questions.
I hope this article can be a calming influence on any other NQTs trying to adapt to new roles. Remember: you are not alone.
George Trifunovic is attendance and date co-ordinator at Leeds City College's applied science department
For World Teachers' Day 2019, Tes is having a new teacher takeover – every piece published on our website on 5 October will be by a new or early career teacher. Find the rest of the articles at our World Teachers' Day hub.