NQTs: Start the School Year as you Mean to Go On, by @cillachinchilla

10 tips for enjoying your NQT year!

It is now a full ten years since I began my NQT year and the memory of it is still as clear as if it was yesterday. I was a pretty rubbish PGCE student and it only got marginally better during my NQT year. But then I was given the most amazing mentor and Head of Department that anyone could wish for, who has and continues to inspire my work. 10 years and 4 outstanding OfSTED inspections later, and I am now an experienced Head of Department, an ITT mentor, lead practitioner and toying with the idea of senior leadership. No matter how rough things seem in the beginning, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Believe me; I’ve seen it.

This is a re-blog post originally posted by Gem Turner-Lindley and published with kind permission.

The original post can be found here.

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Despite what you may see in the media, we do have the best job in the world. It’s hard at times but if you entered into this amazing profession for the right reasons you will find it truly rewarding year in, year out. This job makes me laugh, makes me cry, makes me question my own sanity. At times, I ask if I can continue working at this level for the rest of my working career and then I consider the impact that we have on young people and their life paths. I couldn’t do anything else. I really do love my job.

So, if you are embarking upon your NQT year in September, enjoy it! Make yourself immune to the constant teacher bashing that surrounds us – we know better than that. Immerse yourself in making the best out of 2015/16.

I thought about the advice that I would give if I could go back to my NQT self. Hindsight is a wonderful thing…

  1. Eat well. Don’t think that three biscuits on the way to the toilet qualify as lunch. It most certainly does not. Your body is a machine and it needs fuel.
  2. Get plenty of sleep. Easier said than done but this does make a huge difference. You will be a nicer person during the day. Or maybe the students will just seem nicer to you. I still haven’t worked that one out yet.
  3. Ask for help if you need it. This is not a sign of weakness. Only a fool is too proud to ask for advice.
  4. Remember that each day is a new day. You will get things wrong; everyone does. Age, nor experience will prevent this. It is not the end of the world. Tomorrow you can try again.
  5. Keep records. Lesson plans, assessments, resources, letters to parents – save everything. The time you will save the following year when you can return to these documents will be worth it.
  6. You will never know everything. That would mean that we are perfect, and we all know that is not true. Don’t ever think that you have this nailed.
  7. Keep a well-being box at school – cold remedies, paracetamol, tissues, wet wipes, hot chocolate, favourite CD, ginger biscuits. When you are having a rough day, whether, for physical or emotional reasons, the box will make things better.
  8. When things get tough, take your shoes and your watch off. An odd bit of advice given to me by a bio-mechanic – shoes and watches place pressure on sensitive points which can add to feelings of stress or anxiety. Take them off and regroup.
  9. Make some ‘you-time’. Have a hobby, meet friends or visit your family. All work and no play…you know the rest.
  10. Be a superhero. Studies show that by standing with your hands on your hips, with your feet apart, shoulders back, head held high and taking a few deep breaths, you can make yourself more productive, more confident and more resilient. Even if you can only do this for a couple of minutes before your tutor group come racing in for registration – be a superhero.

You may not manage all of these things – I never did. But it’s a nice little list to come back to at the beginning of the year. You will get through your NQT year and there are people to help you through it. No matter how difficult things have been so far, this could be your year. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Believe me; I’ve seen it. And it’s not just the neon sign on the front of the pub on a Friday afternoon.

If you have tried any of these, or if you have any other bits of advice, please comment! Someone, somewhere, will be grateful…


Gem Turner-Lindley is Head of RS, examiner, teacher trainer. Follow her on Twitter via @cillachinchilla.

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