How to pass your NQT year with flying colours

14/03/2022 | All

Teaching is an extremely dynamic and rewarding career, but for those who are just starting out (previously known as NQTs, now ECTs) it can seem daunting. Your first couple of years of teaching involve key steps to prepare you for your future role, such as training and the development of your existing skills. We have put together some top tips on how to pass your NQT year below!

Start strong!

As an NQT/ECT, there is a high chance that the students you teach won’t have any prior experience of you. If this is the case, it’s important that you set a good impression from your very first few lessons! Make your academic and behavioural expectations clear from the beginning to show your students and colleagues the standards that you expect. Build a robust routine into your lessons from the beginning – with a clear rhythm of how lessons will start, flow and conclude. This is guaranteed to help you pass your NQT year!

Let your students know a little bit about yourself and your background to help build a relationship right from the offset. Furnish your lessons with engaging activities and create a dynamic atmosphere to make sure your students are excited for your lessons for the rest of the year! 

Get to know your students and colleagues

It’s important that you get to know your students during your induction years as you will be a big part of their lives, and it will help your NQT/ECT years go much more smoothly. Start by getting to know their names and a few details about them (e.g. strengths and weaknesses, hobbies, any SEND requirements they have). 

Take time to get to know your fellow staff and colleagues, within your own department and beyond. This doesn’t mean you need to be getting the rounds in at every Friday work drinks – it’s more about the day to day effort of updating others on your progress, asking them for advice or sharing resources and remarks on how a particular lesson went. 

Planning and lessons

Even before you start the year, you can begin planning by collecting together all the documents you might use, as well as a USB stick to save all your files onto. Once you’ve begun teaching, it’s helpful to plan your lessons in advance – this helps you to feel in control. When planning, remember to:

  • Find out what your students already know – you don’t want to repeat something they have already learnt!
  • Come up with a good aim/objective for the lesson and plan your activities around that (not vice versa). The core of your lesson plans should always involve a point that you want students to get to, how you can measure that they’ve achieved this, and how you can help them.
  • Be realistic – are you really going to be able to cover what’s in your lesson plan, or will your plan be derailed? 
  • Keep it simple – don’t have too many activities or objectives. Additionally, don’t over-plan because it doesn’t usually work; you need to be adaptable to pass your NQT year!

Get yourself out there!

Of course your NQT/ECT year can be daunting in terms of workload and it’s easy to bunker down in your classroom to crack on with the mounds of work and marking you’ll have. However, it’s important to make the effort to get out of your classroom and get involved in the wider life of the school! Run or assist with extracurricular activities, go on school trips, attend open evenings and take on extra break duties. 

Got a free period? Ask one of your colleagues if you can observe their class! It’s a great opportunity to learn some new teaching skills and behaviour management tactics. If you’re new at a school this can be a powerfully instructive way of finding out how they do things around there. 

Ask for help

Finally, never be afraid to ask for help! Every teacher working around you has been in your shoes once and their experiences can make yours a lot easier. Your colleagues and mentor will be expecting you to ask questions, so don’t feel bad – that’s what they are there for! They will also probably think more highly of you for asking questions and being willing to learn!

Your NQT/ECT years can be extremely rewarding experiences that set you up for the rest of your teaching career. Make sure that you get the most out of them, but don’t be afraid to make mistakes; that’s how you’ll become the best teacher you can be and pass your NQT year!

How i-teachers can help NQTs find their next role

Looking for your first role as an NQT/ECT? Maybe you’ve just completed your ECT years and now you’re looking for a permanent role in a new school? Our experienced education recruitment consultants recruit for teaching roles across England. 

We are the UKs highest rated education recruitment consultancy and our team is dedicated to making a positive difference to education through placing high quality candidates. The i-teachers approach is entirely personal – we pride ourselves on building strong relationships with our candidates and schools to ensure the best possible fit. Our dedicated education consultants provide thorough interview preparation advice to all of our candidates going for an interview for one of our teaching roles. Contact us to find out more!