Now you’ve successfully gained your qualified teacher status (QTS), it’s time to move through the newly qualified teacher (NQT) induction process. This period will give you the NQT support and guidance you’ll need in your professional development.
You’re about to enter the thrilling and rewarding career as a fully qualified teacher. Your passion, lessons and skills in the classroom will soon inspire the next generation of young learners to achieve their full potential.
You might be thinking that your last academic year was just way too full on. And you have visions of lying on a deserted beach for a few months, soaking up the rays and unwinding.
But, deep down, you know it’s time to kick it up a gear or two.
You’ve done so well to balance your teaching practice with all those arduous assignments. So it isn’t time to ease off the gas.
So, what’s the next step on your journey?Your new challenge is waiting for you – your NQT induction year.
Your NQT Induction Year
It’s time to step into your new classroom and show your students just why you chose to be a teacher.
But what can you expect from your NQT year? And what can you do if you’re not getting the support you need?
Your first proper year in teaching is going to be rewarding and stimulating. Of course, it’s also going to be tough and perhaps a bit stressful at times. It is for almost every NQT, including me.
A beneficial induction program will not just benefit you as a new NQT, but also everyone you work with.
It is often said ‘great teachers make great schools’. But it is also true that ‘great schools make great teachers’.
In this post, we’ll try to explain clearly and concisely how you can have a successful induction year.
We’ve got a lot to cover. So, let’s dive in...
An important first step is to focus on getting to know your class. All of your pupils will be just as apprehensive and wary as you in the first few weeks. This is understandable for both sides, and completely natural.
However, it shouldn’t take long for you to become their number one fan. After all, you are here to help them and make their school life more enjoyable and rewarding.
I like to explain that I am their coach, and they are my players. We’re in this together. And nothing will make me happier than knowing they are achieving success and becoming the best students possible. This often helps to ease the tension of the teacher-student relationship, especially in the first few weeks with a new class.
What to expect when you start your NQT year?
If you are new to your school, it will take time to feel comfortable and find your feet. There is a lot to get used to. The dos and don'ts of your school might be a little strange. However, most rules should be purely common sense. But everything new will take time to adjust to.
Your NQT mentor will hopefully be super supportive. They usually are. They will be your guardian angel in the beginning. So, don’t be shy to ask for help. They have been in your shoes before, and they’ll know exactly how you are feeling right now.
Your first year will involve a number of things, including supervision, induction assessments, observations, training and your continuing professional development (CPD).
It’s your mentor’s responsibility to help you sail these waters smoothly, and without too much stress.
Your induction year is designed to help you feel at home in your new school, and provide you with the opportunity to learn all the routines and procedures of your new school and profession.
Your first year in teaching should also be a supportive process, to help you to develop your professional confidence and competence. As your NQT induction year progresses, you will have a whole host of questions and concerns. But these will lessen as you get through your first year.
Your NQT observed lessons
One of the best things about having a mentor is that they will observe your teaching. Don’t feel threatened by this. See this as an opportunity to improve quickly. Likewise, you should embrace the chance to observe them as well. In addition, try to observe other experienced teachers in your first year. Ask around and find out who your colleagues think are especially strong teachers.
Never be shy to chat with experienced teachers in the staffroom. Most will be more than willing to share their tips and experiences. It is also helpful to think about which specific area of your teaching you’d like to improve. Then you can ask around to find out which teacher is strong in that area.
These observed lessons provide you with the chance to improve quickly, instead of working through trial and error. Take this chance with open arms.
You might also have a subject mentor and you will have a line manager who is usually your head of department or faculty.
Hopefully, your school has a supportive culture of peer observation. As this will give you an invaluable opportunity to develop your teaching skills.
You will always develop your own teaching style as your career progresses. Also, watching how experienced teachers give feedback and question pupils, and how they use pair and group work, is one of the best ways for you to improve. And importantly, build your confidence quickly.
Always reflect on your observed lessons. Ask lots of questions. It is also a good idea when being observed, to ask your mentor to give feedback on certain areas of your lesson, rather than more general feedback on the whole lesson.
Always ask how you could have improved on key aspects of your lesson.
Will I have time to prepare my lessons?
As a general rule you will be entitled to 10 per cent time off for your lesson planning, preparation and assessment (PPA).
In addition, as an NQT you have the right to an additional 10 per cent time off from the timetable. This time is very important, so make sure your school gives you this time and that you use it well.
What NQT support will I get?
I am sure you’ll realise that not every school offers the same level of support for NQTs. That can be frustrating, especially when you hear of friends who were on your PGCE course telling you stories about how fantastic the support they are receiving is.
But there are some general areas of support for all NQTs, and these are:
What can you do if you are not getting the support you need?
Some schools might have discussed how much fantastic support you will receive in your interview, and some LEAs offer additional centralised NQT CPD training and support such as how we do that in Lambeth through the Lambeth Schools Partnership.
But now the term has started, and everyone has got so busy, it may be that you feel you are not receiving the support they promised.
Never suffer in silence. There are always experienced teachers who will support you. This is why it’s vital that you build relationships from day one.
Find out what after school activities the experienced teachers are involved in, and join up with them. Then you can ask for help whenever you need it. They have all been through the same difficulties that you might be facing right now.
If you are short of friends to hook up with, you could join the TeachMeets. A TeachMeet is an organised but informal meeting for teachers to share good practice, practical innovations and personal insights in teaching. They are run on a regular basis all over the country and online.
They are organised and run by teachers who are passionate about what they do. You’ll find they offer fantastic insights into teaching practices and will be able to provide you with some great resources.
You should also keep in touch with your PGCE buddies. And if you can, meet with them on a regular basis. If they are far away, arrange regular Zoom calls with them to share ideas and experiences. This will help you to develop your teaching style, and they will be a great source of support through the rough days.
At the end of the day, your first year of teaching is bound to be amazing. No one ever said a day in the life of a teacher will ever be dull.
Remember to have fun and enjoy your first year as an NQT. You’re in for a wild ride.
Hold on tight.
The Early Career Framework (ECF)
The world of teaching is forever changing. Recently, the Department for Education introduced the new Early Career Framework (ECF). This is aimed at improving support for new teachers in their first two years of teaching (DfE, 2019). The NEU has welcomed this and hopefully we can look forward to a fully funded roll-out over the next few years. If you are an NQT this year, it may not cover you, but you can still make the most of what your school has to offer now.
Be proactive about finding CPD
For more information on the CPD on offer from your school and Local Authority you should be able to talk to your mentor and, hopefully, there will be a structured approach to the provision of CPD and especially CPD that supports you in your NQT year.
In Lambeth there is both structured NQT support and CPD provision as detailed here.
If you’re undertaking your NQT year in another LEA then investigate their organised provision and find the NQT support you need.
Also, read our article on Teacher Career Progression in Lambeth.in which we discuss the importance of continued professional development.
Final thoughts on NQT Support - What to expect
I hope you’ve found this article informative and helpful.
You truly are at the beginning of an exciting adventure and period in your life. You’ll soon find that teaching is a tremendously rewarding experience. Of course, there will be times that are extremely challenging. And perhaps on the odd occasion you might even question why you ever got into teaching in the first place. But don’t worry. Those thoughts are completely natural. We’ve all had them at various points in our teaching careers.
One thing you must remember as a teacher, especially in your first couple of years is to take care of yourself. Some new teachers throw themselves into the profession. They spend almost every evening and weekend planning lessons, and stressing about their quality of teaching.
This isn’t healthy. It is important that you are able to switch off from teaching. Make sure you are conscious of creating a strong work-life balance. You need to socialise, and let your hair down from time to time.
Take up a sport. Join a gym. Take up something different like yoga classes or meditation. Choose anything that will help your brain relax from the heavy workload of a modern teacher.
It is vital that you come to class refreshed and energized for every lesson. You don’t want to risk burning out because you put too much effort into your first couple of years.
Take pride in the fact that some of your students will be so inspired by you and your lessons that they will become teachers themselves one day.
Your NQT year is going to be so exciting and vital in shaping you into the awesome teacher you know you can become. Just remember, you will never stop learning as a teacher. And with the right support your confidence and teaching skills will grow exponentially throughout your career.
Now go out there and prove to the world just why you decided to become a teacher.
You can do this!