NQTs / RQTs - Supporting your journey
News / Blogs
BLOGS - read the blogs and get some great tips – NQTs /RQTs tell their story
Lorna Ritchie NQT 2016, Rebecca Hardman NQT 2016, Melanie Broadbent NQT 2015
NEWS - Keep up-to-date with the latest developments in teaching including information about governmental priorities and directives.
Education Select Committee report on teacher supply:
Education Select Committee report on teacher supply:
Starting as an NQT, in a school I knew would bring new, but exciting challenges made me feel slightly nervous. The school is in an area of deprivation with a high percentage of mobility and a high percentage of children working below national age related expectations. Finding out I would be teaching in Year 2 with a very high percentage of EAL/SEN children did not ease the feeling, however once I met all of the other staff in the school I immediately felt reassured and more confident in myself to overcome any barriers I may face.
So far, my school and local authority have been very supportive. I have been given the opportunity to visit and observe in other schools as well as observing other teachers in my own school. This has been extremely beneficial to my classroom practice and I have implemented many effective strategies that I saw.
I have had many high and low points, but the progress that children in my class make is one of the best highlights of teaching so far. This shows you the difference you are making to individual children's development and it is very satisfying to see children developing their love of learning as a result of everything you do for them. Having found difficulty teaching some areas of the curriculum and schemes in place at school, I have now been given support from a maths specialist to ensure I feel confident going forward. I have also been given support from a teaching assistant due to explaining my worries to the senior leadership team regarding the number of children who will reach NARE, by the end of the year, in writing. I am hoping, with the changes, that the number of children reaching this can be almost doubled.
Considering all of the above, I would advise final year teaching students to verbalise any worries you may have so they can be resolved as quickly as possible. You should also ensure that you visit schools before attending interviews as the vibe you can get from a school by walking around is very surprising. It is important to ensure you research the school properly and consider if it is the school you want to work in. Finally, I would advise anyone embarking on their NQT year to take time for themselves and remember that you can only try your best and do what you think is best for the children on their learning journey.
I’ve always wanted to be a teacher – I am one of the few that faced with the question: ‘What do you want to do when you’re older?’ was always prepared with the answer. As a child, I initially struggled with English and Maths and made poor progress until I moved school – teachers’ believed that I wouldn’t be able to face the SATs, let alone my GCSEs! Fortunately, with the help of my parents and a change in learning environment, I managed to prove them wrong – eventually earning a scholarship for my academic achievement at the University of Manchester. However, I still remember the humiliating moments: being the only child who could not recall her number bonds in Year 1, struggling to read and feeling lost in the learning process. As a teacher, I know both sides of the story -- how it feels to fail and, more importantly, the difference it makes when somebody believes that you can succeed. I want to be part of that difference.
In early July, I arrived at my classroom door for a transition day to meet my class for the very first time. Standing in front of thirty-one children, as a qualified teacher, was both daunting and exciting! This was a very different experience to my trainee journey and the prospect of the year to come posed new challenges that I was eager to face. First impressions certainly do count… that hour with the class allowed me a valuable opportunity for us all to learn a lot about each other. Therefore, on my first day in September, I was armed with a wealth of information to help create the strong teacher-pupil relationship that I am so lucky to have fostered in my classroom. Knowing that a certain child wants to be a GP or that Manchester United is their favourite team is just as important as knowing their academic strengths and weaknesses. In education, it is easy for a child to be a statistic or a label but these do not define the child or make the child special!
Over summer, I prepped my classroom and read all of the school policies to ensure that I was ready for the first day of term. I decided to theme my classroom and model my behaviour management system on the Harry Potter series. Even sorting my class into houses on the first day of term and designing a Quidditch themed reading corner -- cloak, broom and quaffles included! Being prepared is essential. Over the first few weeks, it definitely feels like you are drowning in information – take notes and prepare to process it later! You may be qualified but I truly believe that in September a new learning journey begins...
September. For some of you, you are beginning your career as a newly qualified teacher. Others, returning as an experienced or recently qualified teacher. Whatever stage in your career, I can imagine we all share the same anticipation, excitement and quite possibly, nerves. What is my new class going to be like? How can I make this the most successful year yet? How can I ensure that every child makes maximum progress and is happy in the process of doing so? These are all questions running through our heads before we have even considered what colour backing paper to mount, how our desks should be arranged and whether we consider introducing a new class reward system this year.
I am returning this September as a recently qualified teacher and despite having learned a great deal over the past academic year, I am ready and eager to learn more and further develop. Reflective practice is a key to becoming a successful teacher and I have tried to incorporate this wherever possible. I know it is sometimes hard to fit this in; with lessons to plan, books to mark, meetings to attend – considering how a lesson went can be the last thing on your mind. When you work in a profession that is constantly moving forward, always changing, moving on to the next lesson and the next, it feels pointless considering one that has already happened. Through this blog, I hope to impart some helpful tips as I detail how I managed to build in time to reflect and improve my practice.
‘The three Ps’. That is how I organised my life during my NQT year: personal, practice and pedagogy. I found that categorising my responsibilities in this way allowed me to maintain a balanced NQT year and ensure that I gave sufficient time to all areas of my first year in teaching.
Manage your workload
I write lists for everything. Sometimes I write a list for the lists I need to make! I know how it feels having one hundred things to do whirling around your head; you will feel so much better knowing they are on paper. Once you have written your list, prioritise. I have quite a complex way of prioritising which is involves four variants. I consider whether something is urgent and important which I mark as high priority 1, important but not urgent which I mark 2, urgent but not important which I mark 3, not urgent and not important which I mark a 4. Viewing your work in this way will encourage you to realise what is important. I allocate 60% of time to 1 tasks, 30% of my time to 2 (it is so important you carve time to do these tasks), and the other 10% is spent on 3 and 4 tasks. Often, I scratch 4 tasks from my list. You already have so much on, you don’t need to be worrying about wedging cardboard under a wobbly table leg or meticulously tidying stationary caddies. Ensuring you make time for what you consider to be important is vital – in the classroom, we are constantly responding to needs and requests from pupils, staff and parents. You may have a pile of marking to do or resources that need photocopying at the end of the school day but set aside half an hour to discuss with a colleague behaviour management strategies, review a SEN plan, or annotate your planning with children that excelled during a lesson and children who need extra support. Getting into the habit of doing this will pay dividends and you will be thanking yourself later on.
Embrace a positive attitude
At the beginning of the year, we are feeling refreshed, excited and determined to do everything to the best of our abilities. During the year, this zeal may fade as we become tired but it is so important that you maintain positivity. Sometimes, schools can become a breeding ground for venting frustration and blowing off steam, once the bell rings. Stand out from the crowd and be positive. Positivity breeds positivity – be known as the person who encourages and supports others. It is also of equal importance that you seek out a circle of hard working, friendly, positive and helpful people to surround yourself with too.
Relationships are key
In addition to relationships with staff, make sure you build time to meet with and speak to parents. Throughout the year, I aim to speak with at least one parent every night to say how well their child is doing and communicate something positive. Parents want to hear good things about their children. All too often we only call home to tell a parent when their child has misbehaved or there is a concern about their learning. Build a trusting and positive relationship with parents by communicating their children’s successes! The same rule goes for the children. If they are doing well, make sure they know. If a child is not doing well, find something positive to tell them anyway. 9 times out of 10, this affirmation will be the boost they need in order to make progress.
We ask children to reflect on their learning all the time – what went well? What could be improved? How can you avoid the same mistakes in the future? We also ask children to set targets for themselves. As practitioners, we should be doing the same. As part of the Masters’ NQT module, I gathered evidence throughout the year, which demonstrated how I had met the teaching standards. This served as a great opportunity to review marking, photos of displays, lesson plans and other forms of evidence. I was able to do this on an ad hoc basis and it fit in easily with everything else I was doing. I would ensure I made time to jot down a few thoughts immediately after a lesson or at the end of the day. I would then do an overall reflection in greater detail every few weeks. It is very important to be reflective – If you know a lesson didn’t go well, don’t ignore it but identify the reasons why so that you can avoid the same things happening.
Learn from others
In addition to being self-reflective, it is important that you welcome suggestions and advice from others. As an NQT, you will have a mentor and your peers. As a more experienced teacher, seek advice from others around you. Don’t feel shame in asking someone less experienced, as they will have trained more recently and will be able to offer fresh perspective. Frequently participate in learning walks and book moderations - I have gained a wealth of ideas from my colleagues through doing this. I have also been able to share some of my ideas with them. Remember, you are a team!
Refine your practice
Once you have taken all feedback into consideration, put the advice into practice and tweak the way you work in order to make improvements. Comprise a plan containing areas to improve and give yourself a SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic target) to work towards.
Marking work is very important and your school will likely do moderation throughout the year; ensure your books stand out by marking succinctly and meaningfully. As a rule, I only write something if it extends the child’s learning further. It is of equal importance that the child responds and completes this challenge too.
Refine your lesson plans – once you have completed them, don’t stop! Check over them to see if you can add, remove or change anything. Better still, ask a colleague to look over your planning to see if they can inject anything into it.
This is the one where most of you will think ‘Who has time for that?’ - I agree. This aspect can be time consuming, feel counter-productive and we feel guilty reading an article on teaching when we need to be preparing to teach the very next day! That’s the thing though. Research will only enhance your practice, it will prepare you to teach, it will equip you with new and exciting ideas to share in staff meeting or trial in your classroom. It will be the difference between despairing over the child who ‘just never seems to get it’ and being able to cater towards the needs of that child by trialling methods within your classroom. You will then be able to share this with a colleague who is going through a similar problem and it works for them too. All of a sudden, 10 minutes spent reading an educational journal doesn’t seem like a waste of time! Do however, approach new theories with an open mind. They may work, they may not. Ensure they don’t add too much extra time to your already full workload and they are simple for students to understand.
In addition to research, check to see what your union has to offer by means of conferences and events to inform your teaching further. Often, these events are free of charge, offer great resources for you to use in school and it is a great way to meet with other teachers and share examples of good practice.
So there you have it – the ‘three Ps’. I do hope some of this blog was useful to you in your preparation of the new academic year, which is fast approaching. I am sure there will be lots of highs, some lows and lots of hard work involved. I hope you all have a fantastic year and good luck!
NQT Conference - The NQT / RQT Conference gives you the opportunity to meet-up with colleagues, network and develop new skills to enhance performance in the classroom. Sharing practice with experts in education, the conference contributes towards your career and professional development. View the conference schedules and presentations
- 2016 Conference Schedule - Tips Tools and Techniques. Delivering Excellence in the Classroom
- 2017 Conference Schedule - Transition and Beyond ...
This section will include resources to support you in your teaching it contains useful videos and links to relevant sites.
- Induction Guidance for newly qualified teachers (NQTs)
- Inductions appeal procedures
- NUT induction guide for NQTs
- TES advice for new teachers
- Newly qualified teachers (NQTs): annual survey 2016
- Guardian Teachers Network
- Keeping safe in education - statutory guidance.
- Teachers' Media
- Hit the Button
Information on government priority areas
This link will provide users with relevant documents that will enhance their teaching and keep you abreast of developments on government priority areas.
Online Safety – Protecting our children from Radicalisation and Extremism - Bulletin issued by UK Safer Internet Centre November 2014.
The Extremism taskforce report called ‘Tackling Extremism in the UK’. The report has recommended extended responsibilities in schools, for example:
We offer a whole range of opportunities to support your career development, from a newly qualified teacher level right the way through to subject leads and middle management roles
Distance learning Online NQT Module – Reflecting Professional Practice
This M Level 20 credit distance learning module supports Newly Qualified Teachers though their first year in the classroom. The module will enable you to critically reflect on your performance and capability as a teacher working within the context of the Teachers' Standards. (See factsheet below for further details).
Download our fact sheet for the NQT Distance Learning Module.
View our guidance for applying online.
MA Education - Designed to help you develop personally and professionally, this course will expose you to the latest in educational theory and policy.
EdD Professional Doctorate in Education - Earn a research degree with equal outcomes to a PhD through a substantive study considering the relationships between theory and practice.
Professional Development and Research
We are keen to keep in touch with you throughout your teaching career, so please remember to update your details. You can also contact us if you would like additional support, particularly during your first year in teaching. You can email us here: TeacherTraining@leedsbeckett.ac.uk.
Leeds Beckett Alumni - You may already be aware of the range of benefits and services available to you as a Leeds Beckett Alumni, but you would like to find out more, please visit our Alumni website.