Top tips for secondary NQTs
Life as a newly qualified teacher in a secondary school brings with it a different set of challenges compared to primary education, but it is highly rewarding nonetheless.
There will be ample opportunity to focus on your own development and to plan your career in teaching, while also discovering how best to manage a classroom of older pupils.
Secondary teachers will often be expected to have specialist subject knowledge, while your classroom management and behavioural management skills are more likely to be put to the test.
But fear not, as we have an abundance of useful tips that can help a secondary school NQT to settle into your new role.
Know your timetable
Plan your day and know what you need to do and when – this is especially important given that each school will have different timings around lesson times, breaks and assemblies.
Knowing the timings will enable an NQT to maximise their lesson time, providing space for discussion and debate, as well as for having a recap at the end to reinforce pupil understanding.
Know when and who to ask for help
A newly qualified teacher can access a wide range of help and support, from either their mentor or from other secondary teachers at the school.
It’s important to tap into this resource and to maximise the outcomes from any meetings with your mentor, an NQT should take a list of questions or issues with them that they can then talk through.
Speak to other newly qualified teachers
If there are other NQTs in the school setting, speak to them and support each other as you may not be the only person facing a certain challenge.
You may want to have regular catch up sessions or debriefs to talk things through or to set up private social media groups to communicate.
Know your work-life limits
The first year in the classroom for an NQT is often a learning curve and secondary teachers must maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Each individual will know when they work best outside of regular school hours and they should look to set aside a few hours each day for work and stick to that.
Newly qualified teachers – or indeed any teacher – may want to use to-do lists to ensure they maintain a good work-life balance and you should feel comfortable in turning down requests to take on more work if you cannot do so.
Have some lesson routines
There is no need to reinvent the wheel and NQTs can find plenty of resources both in a school and online to aid with lesson planning and teaching processes.
Quizzes and interactive sessions can help to boost engagement, for example, and an NQT should not be put off from having repetitive aspects in lessons if they benefit pupils.
Try different approaches
What works for some classes may not work for others, and an NQT can use their first year to refine an array of techniques that work in several different situations.
Focus on pupil engagement and behaviour management at first, as these aspects will ultimately impact most on your ability to teach effectively.
And lastly, don’t be scared of making mistakes, as life as a newly qualified teacher is one big learning process!
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