Your NQT year is the best of both worlds: You have the job you’ve always wanted – and also the guidance and encouragement you enjoyed during training. Then the second year arrives, the training wheels come off and, suddenly, you’re a fully-fledged teacher.
This is a turning point that every teacher faces. What are their hopes and aims? Do they miss being an NQT? To find out, Athona broke a golden rule – and asked a teacher for the answers.
Kristian, 24, teaches Geography at a secondary school in Essex. He is about to embark on his second year.
What are you most looking forward to about your second year?
I’m looking forward to facing old challenges, knowing that I am a bit more savvy about the way schools work. I’m looking forward to continuing to build on the good relationships I have developed and getting to know my classes better. There will be new challenges and I feel ready for them.
What was the highlight of your NQT year?
I managed to gain respect with my students through various means. I made sure to be seen around the school – not just in my classroom. I ran my own clubs which shared my interests with like-minded pupils, and I also got involved with other clubs and events throughout the year. It’s great when students respect you not only as a teacher, but as a person too.
Was there a moment when you really felt you’d come into your own as a teacher?
Although I have learnt a great deal, I don’t actually feel I have really come into my own as being a teacher. Why? Being a teacher means that you have to constantly adapt to new situations; you never stop learning. Nevertheless, it is important to establish yourself with the students, which is why I have decided to do more to put my own stamp on things when I return to the classroom.
What would you do differently if you had the chance?
Had I been more rigid in my approach at the start, I feel that a lot of behaviour issues could have been solved. It’s a fact of life: certain students like testing limits! You have to find a balance between being firm and being compassionate.
Have you set any goals for the second year?
The only target that I have set myself this year is to be the best that I can be. I think that this goal is the only one that really matters in this job!
What advice do you have for any NQTs reading?
I have a few tips:
- Always listen to your colleagues and keep in touch with the people who you trained with. They can give you valuable information on best practice, new ideas and also how to deal with any issues.
- In your own school, develop good working relationships with other teachers. They know the school that you are joining inside-out, and the best ways to connect with students. They can also help you with good advice on how to tackle any problems in your classroom, from disruption to engagement.
- Teaching assistants are possibly the most valuable assets you have. The ones at my school are fantastic. As an NQT, you and your TA both have a lot to learn to ensure the lessons are smooth and everyone is learning. One method I used was to swap with the TA and let them lead the class. Putting them in charge will help them to develop. Meanwhile, they will also help you gain insight into your own teaching. Make sure you work closely with them!
Will you miss the extra support that NQTs enjoy?
The support never goes away, but you have to ask for it. This helps you become more independent. Always talk to others when you’re unsure, they were in your shoes once! This is a great way to pick up the smaller details of teaching, such as report writing style or dealing with lateness. I felt very lucky to have support when I needed it and I know you can always find that support again – even after the NQT year.
Finally, why should people become teachers?
Simple: passion. I enjoy teaching. There is always a shortage of good teachers and you may just be the person that can change someone else’s life.
What were your experiences of the second year? Do you ever stop learning? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Athona specialises in recruiting teachers for all age groups. Our friendly education team can offer temporary, permanent and supply roles. Whether an experienced veteran or an NQT, we can help you find your new teaching job.