NQT boot camp: five tips for teaching in the first week of term
The first week with your new class is looming. You’ve already plundered your PGCE notes to find activities that will make those first few lessons really pop. This is your chance to show those kids just how lucky they are to have you for a teacher.
But your first week is about so much more than that: it’s about setting the context for a whole year of learning.
To make transition week a success, you have to make your activities meaningful. How about trying some of these ideas?
- Ask for job applications
Rather than starting a row over who is a table monitor and who sharpens the pencils; set a tone of responsibility. Decide on the class jobs and make them matter. Write a short description of each one and let children discuss and decide which job they might be best suited for. Now, ask the class to write an application for their chosen job, thinking about what will make their application stand out. Will their application be first in line if they’ve forgotten their punctuation? Tailor jobs to personalities and rotate them each half term. A resource like this will help you to get started.
- Reinvent the book review
Too often, book reviews can feel rather pointless. So, back away from the boring book-review worksheet. Instead, ask students to choose their favourite book and to record their thoughts about it using audio or video. Then, get them to create a QR code for their recording and add this to the cover of the school library copy of that book. That way, other pupils can scan the code and listen to the review.
- Make connections
It's really important to build relationships with pupils’ parents and carers. So, think about setting up a class blog that parents can read. Or, try using the student profiles in a programme like Class Dojo to connect with home. Not only does this provide an instant united front, which is great for early behaviour management, it will also build positive relationships that you can rely on throughout the year.
- Create a reminder label
Particularly in younger years, pupils will forget things. What’s more, they will worry about forgetting. Spend a lesson creating reminder labels for pupils' bags, using a simple luggage-tag design, to prompt them about what to bring each day. This will help to establish routine and will also give those at home a simple way of knowing what their children need.
- Teach real lessons
Most importantly of all, make sure you that actually teach during those first few lessons. Show your pupils that learning is at the heart of what your classroom is about and don’t be afraid to dive right in with well-prepared, challenging and engaging lessons. The kids will appreciate that far more than any “what I did during the holidays” or flag-drawing exercise.
Sarah Wright is a senior lecturer at Edge Hill University in Lancashire. She tweets as @Sarah__wright1. You can read new instalments of her NQT boot camp every Wednesday and Friday during the summer holidays
For more advice on how to prepare for your NQT year, visit our dedicated New Teachers site, where you can find videos, hints, tips and job listings. You can find more transition week resources for primary and secondary teaching on the TES resources platform.