Your first post, your first class – your first panic attack! Does this sound familiar? If it does, then you can relax a bit because you are not alone – literally and metaphorically. Your first job can signal the arrival of an avalanche of doubt liable to swamp any euphoria following the signing of your very first contract. A new class can be daunting for many teachers – experienced or otherwise. The only difference is that an experienced teacher often has ways of disguising their nerves. If you feel that the new term invokes a knee-knocking, sweaty-palmed reaction then read on for the Top Tips for NQTs:
-Plan ahead – check the necessary resources are available /are in working order
-Have plenty to keep the children busy
-Stay calm and clear-headed – remember you are in charge. Try to nip discipline problems in the bud.
-Maintain a regular routine
-Keep bottled water ( never alcohol!) in your cupboard or on your desk – teaching is thirsty work
-Be prepared to adapt – sometimes spontaneity is needed
-Listen to the children (not as easy as it seems – time is often against you)
-Don’t be afraid to ask others for advice or help (we’ve all been there)
-Never jump to conclusions – appearances can be deceptive
-Be consistently fair – children respect this
Now, along with the running of your own classroom as an NQT you will have to cope with the additional minefield of staffroom politics. If you are very fortunate then you will find yourself in a happy, well-decorated, salmonella-free staffroom. Dream on! There is no such place.
It is an unwritten law that in schools the room designated as the R & R area for colleagues to gather will have: grotty tea towels, never enough tea spoons, penicillin in the fridge and/or a kettle with a furry lining. There may be an old biscuit tin lurking by the sink (ostensibly for tea funds) but it will have been many moons since it contained anything remotely resembling a custard cream. Closer inspection may reveal a safety pin, a fluffy Polo and perhaps one sad little peseta.
During the festive season grateful parents often send in various chocolatey items which are gleefully transported to the staffroom whereupon the contents disappear like snow off a dyke. Be warned, dear NQT, never stand between chocoholic teachers and a new box of Roses. The coroner will identify each member of staff from their footprints on your forehead. Speaking of physical damage also avoid declaring any aversion to displays within the school. The monstrous carbuncle outside the HT’s office may be the prized creation of the resident psychopath (and I don’t mean a pupil).
Similarly, schools have inexplicable grapevines and any less than diplomatic comment may hurtle round the building gathering speed and venom till it returns tenfold to pound your relatively innocent personage to a pulp. Having said that, nor is it in your best interests to be a doormat. Don’t be intimidated by colleagues and be aware that bullying can and does exist amongst adults. If you are on the receiving end of any unpleasant words or actions then talk it over with someone you trust. Don’t let it develop. Deal with it as soon as possible.
Thankfully though, most teachers prefer to work together as a team. It makes life much easier and teaching a lot more fun. Most people will be happy to help and will welcome you into the fold.
Take your time to settle in, don’t expect to be” Super Teach” on day one. Bring your own mug, a box of Quality Street and a sense of humour to the job and you can’t go wrong!
Categories: Newly Qualified Teachers