- Get the parents on your side early
The days of teachers, senior leader and parents uniting to combat a child’s misbehaviour are gone, now it falls upon the school to show the parent why their child was in the wrong. Take time to stand outside your school and meet some of the parents, show willing and be welcoming, their respect for you will permeate through their child.
- Use the staffroom as a tool
If your school is lucky enough to still have one (see our Teachers Need Staffrooms article!) then it’s the perfect place to chat to more experienced colleagues and pick up tips on certain pupils, lesson plans and general school life. Whilst you may get collared by a senior member of staff wanting to “update” you on something urgent, it’s worth the risk for the valuable learnings.
- You’ll probably run in to offensive people
Get yourself a mentor, and a friendly one. As any workplace, there is a good chance people will rub each other the wrong way and with the tension created by the stress of workloads and pupil behaviour, it’s sure to explode at some point. You may be on the wrong end of someone’s wrath, be expectant but be professional in your response too.
- Smile, as much as is humanly possible
The advice often given out by some more of the veteran teachers is, ‘don’t laugh or smile as it shows weakness.’ Luckily, this is a dying art and in all honesty there are plenty of children who don’t have much to smile about at home, so why should they face that at school too? Comedy and a friendly face can go a long way.
- Appreciate the gifts but be cunning
Of course it’s the thought that counts but you don’t want to upset ten children who’ve all bought you a brand new mug at the end of the year. Let them know you only use your “special mug” and also drop-in some of the things you like to eat or do outside the school, they’ll be interested to hear about it.
- Pick your battles
Poor performing, top performing, rural or inner city schools will all see incidents of bad behaviour. Certain pupils will have individual behavioural plans written for them, familiarise yourself on what triggers those pupils and empathise as much as possible. Getting those children on your side can help the rest of the class to learn in peace.
- Don’t be fooled, there’s no such thing as “informal”
As an NQT, you obviously expect to be scrutinised regularly but make sure you are always prepared. This means that however your senior leader describes it; “just somebody dropping in”, “somebody is coming in to observe pupils” or “there is a formal OFSTED inspection” (ARGH!) you should try and nail it.
- Be realistic, always
You may have excelled in your placements and passed with flying colours, but a real-world class is a whole different beast. There is a good chance you won’t be hitting outstanding lessons every day and results certainly won’t be exactly where you want them to be. Don’t think too much in to it. Always know there will be successes no matter how big or small and they will outweigh the negatives.
- Don’t hang on to the past
Those first classes you teach will remain special, even if you had a tough time in your first year. You’ll find yourself inexplicably emotional leading up to the end of the year and exhausted after it finishes, but move on knowing you’ve made a difference to that group of pupils.
- Enjoy it
It’s one of the most difficult and most rewarding jobs out there, enjoy your career and stick at it because the world needs all the strong-willed educators it can get.
Are you an NQT? Are you and teacher now, how was your NQT year? Let us know in the comments section below.