Surviving Your First Year as a Qualified Teacher
You have managed to survive your PGCE; now it’s time to head into school as a fully-fledged qualified teacher. Whether you’ll be teaching primary or secondary the prospect of your NQT year can feel like the scariest thing you’ve ever done. And in order to survive this new adventure you need to be prepared for some ups and downs.
Here we take a look at the five top tips for surviving your first year as a teacher.
Prepare Over the Summer
Whilst you’ve waited all year for the summer, and this summer feels like the last you’ll enjoy as a student before entering a regular job cycle, you can’t afford not to use some of this time to prepare for your new career. Once you start the school year it will feel like a whirlwind of planning, marking and a never-ending list of things to do, so take this time to ensure you’re fully prepared. Make your behaviour chart, read important school information and set up your classroom ready to start the new term organised and feeling ready.
Build a Support System
This is important for both your NQT year and through your whole teaching career. Hopefully you will be assigned a supportive school mentor, use them as much as you can, they are there to help you. Teaching is also not a solo job and you will be working as part of a team of teachers and teaching assistants throughout your career who have a wealth of knowledge and experience and have been in the same position as you. It is also important to have plenty of support from home. Ensure you partner, housemate, parents or anyone at home is understanding and supportive. Keep in touch with others from your PGCE; they will be going through the same experience as you and be at the same stage in their careers as you.
In your first year of teaching it can be easy to become consumed by the job; and it can often feel as though you are constantly eating, drinking, breathing and thinking teaching without any release. Make time to work out, play sport or read; anything which is away from teaching. Schedule this into your diary each week and stick to it. Finding the right work/life balance can be the most difficult part of your NQT year, and throughout your teaching career.
Don’t Burn Yourself Out
Contrast to popular belief by many non-teachers it is impossible to get everything done between the hours of 8.30am and 3pm. The level of planning, marking, meetings and studying takes up many, many hours, and you can quickly get caught up in it all, resulting in very little sleep, not eating properly and having no time to rest or take some time for yourself. Burning yourself out will be no good for yourself, or your students. Plan your time carefully, set cut off times for leaving school and for stopping work at home on an evening and stick to it. Have a good lie in at the weekend if you can to catch up on sleep and try to completely switch off from work; you’ll feel so much better for it.
Preparation is Key
Plan, plan and plan! At the heart of every good lesson is a good lesson plan. Although planning takes a lot of time, it is vital to succeeding in your first year of teaching. Without sufficient planning, you’re virtually teaching blind. Ensure you plan exciting, engaging and challenging lessons which you look forward to teaching. Plan your lessons in advance and before leaving school each night ensure you are prepared for the next day, with all resources and everything you need ready, in order to avoid a panicked rush around the school in the morning trying to find an item.
Most importantly enjoy your first year as a qualified teacher; you’ve worked hard to get here and teaching can be the most rewarding job in the world! Good luck!
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