I started my career as newly qualified in September this year. Things are going reasonably well but a few issues are beginning to emerge. It appears that some things might be starting to unravel. Please can you help reassure me about whether or not I am doing the right thing?
You are not alone. In many local authorities newly qualified teachers make up ten percent of the workforce. Numerous newly qualified folk find their first [induction] year a confused roller coaster of imagined success and failure. Here are some salient points which every newly qualified teacher needs to appreciate. For further details, read the fuller ‘Avuncular advice to newly qualified teachers’.
If you are finding the year stressful, confusing, chastening and exhausting, then know that most beginners find it the same. If you feel that others around you are managing the job with aplomb, then remember that they have learned over the years.
Keep your family and social life on an even keel during this year, even if it means delaying things for a while. To bring your professional life to God in prayer daily – specific prayer about the practical situations you face – is crucial. And get others to pray for and with you, too.
In normal circumstances, it will take three terms to complete your induction year, and they can be taken in different schools at difference times. Part-time teachers will take longer, on a pro rata basis. There will be assessment points at the end of each third, normally each term.
If an NQT fails their induction year they are effectively barred from becoming a qualified teacher. If you think that failure is possible, it’s often best to avoid failing. If this sounds idiosyncratic, then seek clarification
As an NQ teacher you must receive twenty percent of the timetable as non-contact time. This is to enable you to get ahead with planning, preparation, marking, assessment and a little professional reflection. This could be one whole day a week, or more likely, in two or more parts. Avoid others impinging on your time. Schools are full of distractions.
You must have an induction tutor with QTS, who must be trained and have time available to support you. Your tutor must have, themselves, ‘a deep understanding of teaching and learning’, and be able to coach you through the wider aspects of the job, including classroom organisation, your approach to your pupils, prioritising your time, dealing with colleagues and parents etc.
You must be observed teaching at least six times during your NQ year, and one of these must be done by the headteacher. Observations are just part of a support package – you must expect practical support and guidance from your induction tutor and others
You should not be given abnormally difficult classes, or take on additional responsibilities, during your first year. You may be keen to explore the wider aspects of school life but in your first year it’s important to focus on establishing good teaching and learning and making it sustainable. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially if the support you receive is not what you hoped for.
Be reflective of your practice, and enlist the help and support of as many around you as you can. Keep a development portfolio which charts the learning points, records meetings, lesson plans and observations, together with the feedback. Making notes of what is said to you at meetings is an excellent discipline.
Be aware that year two and subsequent years will also be learning opportunities. You have opted for a profession which is undergoing a significant amount of change. Keep learning, keep experimenting, learn from experience and keep your development portfolio going. n
* Members of ACT can contact the confidential helpline 0121 364 0808 for support. Be prepared to leave your name and a contact number.
Robert Hall October 2013 Close