Preparation is the key to a successful first year of teaching. While you’ll undoubtedly be keen to spend the summer after your graduation relaxing before the start of a hectic school year, there are a number of simple things you can do to help you start your induction year off on the right foot. Once you’ve landed that first teaching job, try to fit in a visit to the school before you start. You can get a feel for the place, pick up any paperwork you might need, meet your mentor and fellow teaching staff and see your classroom. You should also make sure your school’s policy is essential summer reading; take some time before you arrive to find out about the behaviour policy, including rewards and sanctions, and the structure of the school. In your first week of teaching, try to learn your pupils’ names and something about each of them. The ability to form positive relationships is the cornerstone of good teaching, and this will show your class that you care.
If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask your mentor – that’s what they’re there for! Be honest with them about what you need to perform at your best, whether it’s the opportunity to observe other teachers or the chance to run through your lesson plans and resources before teaching a challenging class.
Planning engaging and inspiring lessons is an important, and often enjoyable, part of being a teacher. However, with all of your other duties and the new challenges you’re facing as an NQT, it’s important to strike the right balance between passion and pragmatism in your lesson planning. It’s fine to use and adapt other, more experienced colleagues’ planning – particularly if you’ve never taught something before. Don’t run yourself ragged planning elaborate activities. New ideas and techniques are only useful if they don’t add extra stress to your workload and improve students’ understanding of and engagement with a subject. Remember that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Try to stay as organised as possible to keep on top of your workload. Our Teacher Planners can hold all of your lesson plans and other important paperwork together in one place, while our daily planning pages help you to keep track of your schedule. Designed by teachers for teachers, our planners are valuable lesson planning aids for NQTs and established teachers.
It’s important to find the right level of expectations for you and your class. While low expectations are obviously not a good idea, setting expectations too high can also be problematic. Spend some time before you even start your NQT year really thinking about what you expect from your students. Sort your expectations by their importance to you and concentrate on getting your priorities firmly in place before introducing more.
Accept that it’s inevitable that you’ll make a few mistakes at this very early stage of your teaching career. What’s important is that you learn from them and use them to improve and develop. Above all, try to remember that is does get easier eventually!