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Advice to my NQT self

September is here. Gulp. And so are my pupils, sat on the carpet glaring at me bright eyed, ready for the new academic year. I’ve waited for this moment for as long as I can remember.

I’ve passed all my assignments, placements and exams. I’ve read every teaching book in my university’s library. I have organised, arranged and decorated my classroom perfectly over the summer. But now the grand moment has arrived.

I am responsible for the education of these thirty little human beings this year.

How will I do this?! Does this sound familiar? If so, this is completely natural. As you take your first steps into your NQT year I need to tell you – you have the ability to be an outstanding teacher to these little human beings. You can make a positive impact. You will survive!

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Here are my top 10 tips to ensure your NQT year is a success:

  1. Be consistently good. You have shown outstanding practice at university and in securing your NQT position. It is time to stop obsessing on being outstanding, but rather, to be consistently good everyday.
  2. Do not be afraid to seek and ask for help. Use the strengths of your mentor and colleagues – all willing to help you succeed.
  3. Put things into perspective. The world will not end if the pile of books don’t get marked for another day.
  4. Engage with your parents early on. They can be a great asset.
  5. Make a connection with your TA. Your TA will become your new best friend, so build a relationship with them, don’t be afraid to delegate to them and always thank them when they help you.
  6. Always have a marking pen in your hand as you move around the classroom. Instant feedback has much more impact and saves you time in the evening.
  7. Work life balance is important. Your teaching will be much better if you are not stressed.
  8. We all make mistakes. Reflect upon them to improve your practice.
  9. Maintain a network with your fellow university alumni. You are all in the same position. You will all listen, support and get each other through the wild yet wonderful year ahead.
  10. Time and efficiency – prioritise what is going to make a difference. Look for existing resources that will have high impact on student outcomes.

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