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Hello, is it an NQT you’re looking for?

‘Here for a long time not a good time’

Schools begin their recruitment of teachers after Xmas teach year. There’s an obvious lure for NQTs and inexperienced teachers, not only to save on the school budget. New blood, new ideas. A new teaching & learning ethos. NQTs really are fantastic additions to schools. I was once described as a “hot air balloon” by a colleague during my NQT year. “Standing out amongst the cloud” or perhaps just full of hot air!

Yet their retention remains an issue. Recent statistics from the NASUWT suggest 1 in 7 NQTs left teaching after their induction year. The challenges of workload, wellbeing, a work-life balance, work politics & simply the realisation “this isn’t for me” all play a factor amongst many other things.

Your NQT year is about managing yourself & your workload. Yourself first.

My NQT year was very challenging. I was teaching out of specialism, a lot of Key Stage Three classes & some very high stakes GCSE classes. From my experience, these are the tips & hints I’ve gathered. Ones I hope can support fellow new teachers.

Have a planner, use a planner!

Sounds ridiculous but I know many trainees that didn’t have a planner. It’s like reading into your soul! It’s saved me time on planning SO many times. Aim to have your mark book, seating plans, class profiles all to hand. I once had an observation & left my planner at home! That planner really will give you oversight of what you’re doing & when you’re doing it. It’s a massive insurance policy if you’re unwell or have to take time off.

Half Terms & Weekends

Inevitably the demands of teaching will mean you will do some work out of term. But get it done early, first few days & spend the rest of the time on yourself! You are important. You’re an NQT, do you want a long career in teaching? I lived by “here for a good time not a long time” motto for a long time but it took me being on the verge of burnout to realise I had to begin caring for my own wellbeing. Not working & switching off are two different things. When I ‘switch off’ I rest, when I’m ‘not working’ I don’t even contemplate work. You must enjoy teaching by having a life outside of teaching.

Have an issue?

Could be totally innocuous but talk to someone. Bottling up the problem will exacerbate the issue. I only spoke to my mentor about the colour of my socks! Having a good mentor does help but making positivity relationships with all staff is also so important. A lot of the teachers have a real breadth of experience and will have come across similar issues to the one you’re facing. Talk to them. It’s better to gain support than allow it to get beyond repair.

Behaviour Management

No one has a pin-drop silent classroom. No one. Be consistent with your approach, use school-wide behaviour policies & build good relationships with all students. Check out my behaviour management blog!

Lunchtimes are for… lunch

You’re busy but too busy to refuel? You have to have a balanced diet, its wax-lyrical in PSHE! Lunch times give you a unique chance to gather your thoughts, be away from any anxiety & eat. I used to put my headphones in & enjoy a can of lilt. That sugary goodness alongside the lyrics of OutKast & Nas got me through my NQT year. You need those few moments just to gather your thoughts. They can make such a difference in your day.

Saying ‘no’

You can say it! If you can’t mark a set of assessments overnight or plan a scheme of work in a week, tell yourself ‘no’. That’s not failure, it’s actually success. You’re successful putting yourself ahead of work. That’s what will help your longevity in the profession. Managing your workload comes from you being proactive and knowing your own limits. Long time, not good time remember!

In Summary

Of course this isn’t an exclusive list al every tip needed for NQTs. Yet a key and ongoing theme is; wellbeing. In the grand scheme of things; the books will always need marking, but that film you wanted to see won’t be in the cinema forever!

I don’t like ‘surviving you NQT year’ as a term. This isn’t an extended episode of Bear Grylls! You aren’t expected to be worked to the verge of burnout or have unrealistic targets. Schools need you, perhaps more than they realise.

Thank you for reading

Shuaib Khan

Twitter @shuaibkhan26

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