At last, there is light at the end of the tunnel. But before new teachers in England and Wales can complete their first year, there is one important hurdle that must not be ignored - the final assessment.
It is an opportunity to reflect on your progress and achievements and to map out continuing professional development (CPD) priorities for the future. "Newly qualified teachers need to keep their game up and ensure they complete the year with their classroom management, and dignity, intact," says Diane Read, assistant headteacher and senior mentor at The Arthur Terry School in Birmingham.
The school timetables NQT meetings throughout the year to provide training, troubleshooting and to share ideas or problems. They also ensure new teachers build up evidence to meet the three areas of professional standards: professional attributes, professional knowledge and understanding and professional skills.
If you have not already put together an NQT evidence folder, now is the time to start, says Ms Read. It can become your CPD folder in successive years. The file should consist of notes about regular meetings, observations and targets, plus evidence of other creative work.
Use your last weeks as an NQT to observe as many colleagues as possible, advises Ms Read. "Next year colleagues may be less obliging and NQTs will not have their 10 per cent reduced timetables."
If time is tight, avoid observing whole lessons. Focus on an area that needs development, such as starter activities or experiments. Then observe a range of teachers (at other schools too) but only for 10 minutes or so, looking at one issue.
Make sure you have been observed at least two times a term. "Ask an experienced teacher who has not observed you before to provide a fresh perspective, or ask the senior mentor to return so that they can see how you have developed," Ms Read says.
You must also ensure the latest targets have been met and, within reason, identify areas for further development. "Knowing how and where to improve one's teaching was imperative," says Beth Copeland, an English teacher who completed her NQT at Arthur Terry last year. "However, being too self- critical could be detrimental."
Throughout her NQT year, Ms Copeland was encouraged to manage her time and not shy away from responsibility. Between them, last year's NQTs at Arthur Terry wrote a book, directed a school show and became activity co- ordinators - which helped to enhance their online career entry and development profile.
Sharing those successes and disappointments helps to bond new teachers and encourages them. "We still call ourselves `the NQTs'," says Ms Copeland. "I think that's a testament to the relationships we've built up. I still see us as the strong, resilient and inspirational group of youngsters who survived the year together."
The nuts and bolts of what you need to achieve in this final term is outlined in the Training and Development Agency for Schools' "transition point 3" guidelines. As well as reviewing progress with your induction tutor, it recommends evaluating induction support.
New teachers need to remember and fulfil these statutory requirements to secure full qualified teacher status, says Ms Read. At this time of year, NQTs are "not quite demob happy, but there is a realisation that they are on the home stretch", she adds.
By stoking their sense of self-belief and outlining all their accomplishments, NQTs will be able to give that one final push towards the finishing line.
Next week: Passing your numeracy test
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
- Create a forum whereby NQTs can support and communicate with each other.
- Ensure observations have been completed.
- Gather evidence to prove targets have been met.
- Look at the guidance and resources for "transition point 3" on the TDA website: www.tda.gov.ukteachersinductioncedptransitionpointstransitionpoint3