NQT boot camp: When and where to ask for help
The stabiliser wheels might have come off now that you are an NQT, but it is vital that you seek out a good support network and make use of it to help you keep your balance this year. Here are my tips to help you do this.
- Get to know your colleagues
It’s important that you get to know your colleagues well, especially those you will be working closely with, so make time to visit the staffroom for a chat every now and then.
Your NQT mentor will be a key point of contact for you, so schedule regular meetings and make the most of them by preparing ahead. Make a list of three things you’ve done well since your last meeting, three things you’d like to improve on and any questions you have.
You should also visit other key stages or departments to get to know as many people as you can and make use of their expertise. Try to do some team teaching or peer observations within other departments if possible.
- Reach out to the wider teaching community
Schools can be very insular places, but it's in your best interest to get to know the wider educational community as well. If you can find time, try to visit local schools and connect with the NQTs there. Your local authority may also organise NQT training across a network of schools. This is another great opportunity to meet others and collaborate.
- Make use of digital support
Social media has revolutionised the way that we connect with each other. Twitter, Facebook and even Snapchat allow you to reach an infinite community of teachers who are passionate about the profession and keen to collaborate. So, get yourself a professional Twitter account and start to network. You could join in the awesome Primary Rocks chat on a Monday (where secondary teachers are more than welcome too) or the brilliant UK Edchat on a Thursday. You can also follow useful hashtags, such as #teacher5aday.
- Don’t forget the people outside of school
If you aren’t careful, teaching can consume your life. While it’s brilliant to be able to say that you love your job, it’s also important to have a balance. So, make sure you keep in touch with family and friends who aren’t in education. You’ll be so tempted to share your latest marking marathon with them, but do try to have some down time that doesn’t include classroom chat.
- Stay in touch with your training provider
Whether you trained in a school or university, don’t lose touch when you start your NQT year. Your tutors will still be on hand to help and offer advice and many providers put on bespoke NQT training to keep you in the loop.
Most importantly, never be afraid of asking questions or shouting when you need help. Your NQT year will be a whirlwind, but there is so much support out there. You just need to make sure that you use it.
Sarah Wright is a senior lecturer at Edge Hill University in Lancashire. She tweets as @Sarah__wright1.
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.