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We often tell teachers that their first year of teacher training will be one of their toughest, but for this year’s cohort of NQTs things have been a whole lot tougher than any of us ever imagined. The coronavirus has brought about some serious and unexpected challenges.
Lots of student teachers, like you, were worried but the good news is that we now know that QTS will be based on progress judgements. In other words, if you were on track to meet the teachers’ standards by the end of the course you should be recommended for qualified teacher status.
However, the bad news is that lots of NQTs have been left feeling unprepared and unconfident through no fault of their own. While we can’t wave a magic wand to fix this, we can offer you some tips on the best ways to tackle your NQT year and give you some idea of what the ‘new normal’ might be like in schools.
Don’t be afraid to ask
It may sound cliche but there is no such thing as a stupid question. Remember that you are new to both the role and the school - no one expects you to know everything! Most teachers, if not all teachers will be more than happy to help you and if anything it shows your enthusiasm.
One silver lining of the coronavirus is that, like you, everyone is going to have to take some time to learn what the new normal is in your school. As they say in High School Musical, ‘we’re all in this together’!
Mistakes will be made
No one and we mean, no one is great at anything on their first try. So, don’t worry if you’re not the A* teacher you thought you’d be right off the bat. Your NQT year is all about making mistakes and learning - providing that you don’t set the school on fire or lose any children, we think you’ll be just fine.
Plus like we said above, you won’t be the only one making mistakes. It’s going to take everyone in the school a little time to wrap their head around all these new coronavirus rules. But eventually, it will all become second nature.
Look after yourself
Your first year as a teacher can be a little overwhelming and it’s easy to get run down. However, due to the virus, it’s more important now than ever before you take care of yourself. Your student’s want you to be the best version of you that you can be which means you need to make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating right and drinking enough water.
For your mental health, having a life outside of the classroom is key. Try your hardest to leave the chaos of the classroom behind you when you close the door. Switch off, do something relaxing. Your whole life shouldn’t be about school.
Get to know your fellow teachers
Sure this seems obvious, but sometimes we all get wrapped up in ourselves and all the things we have to do. Take time to get to know the people you work with from the caretaker to the headteacher. Of course, you don’t need to be best friends with everyone but seeing a friendly face in the corridor always helps!
Building relationships with other teachers will not only make you feel good but allow you to learn more. For example, other experienced teachers may be able to offer advice on how to deal with certain situations or even students.
Again, another obvious one! But the more organised you are, the easier your life will be. Keep a diary and up-to-date ‘to do’ lists to ensure that you remain on top of things.
When it comes to putting your lesson plans together, we’d suggest always having a plan b that can be done from home if needs be. That way should there be another lockdown or one of your students has to self-isolate, you’ve got things covered.
These are just five simple tips to help get your 2020 NQT year off to a good start but there are tonnes more online - some which we’ve even written ourselves (check out Common NQT Problems and How to Solve Them, Tips for New Teachers and our NQT Survival Guide).
Forgetting the above for a second, (stick with us here) the best piece of advice we could give you is to embrace it! Teaching is an amazingly rewarding career and we have no doubts that you’ll not only be great but have a great time.