I wanted this blog to be a weekly reflection on my lessons and how I feel as a first year teacher, that didn’t happen.
I feel that I am in a good position, having just done my NQT year, to give some advice to the next cohort of newly qualified teachers.
1. Get organised early (before start)
Get all the lessons that you have “borrowed” from your placement schools and organise them in a logical way. I know that there is no one way to do this as there are so many variables, but have a try. Get at least your first weeks lessons planned (possibly two) and get the photocopying in early, be nice to your reprographics staff early in the year and they will reward you tenfold later, last minute copying before an observation for example. Make sure you know your timetable, classes SoW and who your mentors are (find these out before you go in). Finally, get your weeks sorted (marking, meetings, interventions).
2. Get the professional look (before start)
Dress professionally and take pride in your appearance. Guys usually go for a suit or posh jumper with posh pants… always SHIRT AND TIE. Gals, I’m no expert in this field but dress appropriately.
3. Get into your room (before start)
If you are lucky enough to have your own room, as I was, make sure that it has the look and feel that you want. My top tips are – have your displays done, have at least 3 dry wipe board pens stashed out of sight of students, have a spare board wipe (60p white dishcloths from spar are amazing!), get a little flicky slide show remote and make sure it works and (controversially) have a spare on/off/freeze board remote… these are gold dust in most schools but as you’re an NQT the ICT guys will be nice, go to them after 2weeks of teaching and claim you have lost your board remote (hide it), this way when someone pinches yours (which they will if your school is like mine) you will have one, the frustration you face when you can’t do the register while the connect/hook/starter activity is on the board is unparalleled.
4. The first day (at start)
It is normal not to get much sleep the night before your first day, it is normal to get a shower at 5 in the morning on your first day, it is normal to turn up to school for your first ever day and be the first one in the car park, sweaty palmed, looking around thinking “today is the start of school, right?”. There will be a lot happening on your first day, different processes for discipline, form, breaks, duties, lunch, in-between lessons, book standards etc etc. Have a little note pad and PENCIL in your pocket ready to whip out and jot little things down with (pencil because a pen will heat up and “explode” against your leg). When in the car park look for someone smartly dressed who looks like a teacher and introduce yourself, every member of staff I have spoken to on the first day has been welcoming and helpful. Finally, take 15minutes at the end of the day to reflect on how your first day went, concentrate mainly on the positives.
5. First lesson
In your first lesson you need to get a few things done; introduce yourself, names on books, ground rules and expectations. I made the mistake of spending almost the entire lesson doing mostly non-maths related “stuff`”. Do not do this. Have a lot of maths content. Maybe finish off with a name memory game.
6. First few weeks
GET ON TWITTER! Make yourself a twitter account and get on twitter in your first few weeks of teaching, it has proven invaluable to me. You will find out the latest news and also get some great tips. Talk to everyone and don’t prejudge, the other teachers in your department will be able to help with a lot – they were NQT’s once. People across different departments will also help you with a lot. The main things I asked about in my first few weeks were; where things are, how someone recommended teaching a certain topic and classes. Know that every student you teach is being taught by someone else, if they play up for you then its likely that they play up for others (but not everyone), ask around the people who teach that person and ask what works for them, who the pupil sits with etc (ask their head of year, previous teacher in your subject and form tutor). Some of the most disruptive pupils have turned into some of the best with the smallest of changes. Lastly, learn all of your students name and use them, it gives a personal touch and they really respond well to this, you will learn your 2 most eager and 2 most “annoying” students name in the first lesson (guaranteed, unless they are off).
BEHAVIOURAL MANAGEMENT TIP 1
Go to a cheap shop (home bargains, pound stretcher, ebay) and get some small £1 notebooks (flowers and pink for girls, cars and blue for’t lads). If you get someone who is disruptive in your class (a real extrovert) and you have tried your schools behaviour process a few times including detentions… give them the book and take them aside for a second. Tell them that they are responsible for making sure that rewards and sanctions are recorded for that class in that book, day per page. Say this person is called Emily and you give Tom a warning then Emily would write down Tom – W or if you say “well done Tom, have a merit” she would write Tom – M. Tell them they will get a reward if they get it right. This technique has worked wonders with some kids that regularly disturbed lessons and made little progress due to being sent out. Try it 🙂
DO NOT get caught in idle staffroom gossip. Teachers are worse than kids for rumours, gossip and “bitching”. Unless it is positive try your best not to voice an opinion as it could put you in a awkward situation afterwards. “I don’t know” is what I usually say if people say something to me that is negative. Stay professional and keep your chin up.
Get a small folder to keep all your paperwork in, and I mean all of it. I didn’t do this last year and I wish I did. Any handouts from meetings, information given to you by Heads of Year/Departments… KEEP IT ALL! The amount of times I have been given a seemingly unimportant a4 piece of paper that I have chucked in the bin and regretted is countless, keep it all.
9. Enjoy yourself
This is the career that you have chosen to do, you have done your training, got your degree, secured a job… most of the work is done! Enjoy yourself. Be yourself. I have found teaching pretty tough but I have enjoyed it thus far. Kids are amazing to be around, it is so rewarding to see someone enjoying
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