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Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by transilvanian, Jun 2, 2011.
In some parts of the country an NQT is a rare beast.
I am in a very similar situation from Sept and would welcome any idesas/suggestions for innovative and effective NQT induction processes.
I can tell you what I'm thinking: I thought I'd make a list with staff of all the things we'd want them to get to grips with in priority order, starting with basics eg CP, h&s, planning and marking. Then move to getting in alongside and teaching together to grapple with effective learning and AfL issues/discussion/coaching. Hopefully this will be enjoyable and not too much overload. I was thinking of working out their 10% NQT time for the year, subtract planned courses and then lump their time into whole days of in house training every 2-3 weeks. I think this will help focus, from previous experience NQT time must be more than extra PPA. I think observations are best done with a senior colleague to keep the focus in the right place.
You might be able to get an AST or an outsider speaker from a training company to do a half day or twilight that might be a good value day on bespoke topics. Some schools I have worked in have done this and it was interesting and enjoyable to hear from an outside expert. One session was taken in a hotel with a meal to celebrate and as hard up NQTs this made us feel really valued. Hearing from other previous NQTs for some sessions on BM was also useful.
I'm an NQT this year, and I have to say my LA's 'conference' day was unhelpful and demoralising. They were so keen on 'interactive' sessions they had forgotten that we were supposed to actually learn something - for instance I still have no idea at all why I spent 30 minutes trying to make a tower out of spagetti and marshmallows with a group of 14 others! The keynote speaker (1 and a half hours of him) on behaviour had obviously never been in a primary setting and I found his aggressive attitude quite upsetting to be honest. I came away feeling very isolated and it's the first time I'd ever wondered why I'd got into teaching - not really the aim of the occasion I'm sure. What you are suggesting sounds so much better - I wish more schools would do it!
I would say that the most useful things this year for me have been:
1) visits to schools - very very hard to arrange for yourself as an NQT (emails go astray, then they want you to ring to arrange when but aren't available outside teaching hours, then they say they aren't sure they really have anything to show you, etc), but my head organised us one through one simple phone call to a friendly head which was extremely useful.
2) time at the LA library to find out what resources they have - as an NQT you don't always realise what there is on offer, eg stuffed animals, historical / cultural artefacts etc. Equally, time in museums and places of interest would also be useful - I've done this in my own time though, and mainly based around trips we were actually doing!
3) time just discussing things with my mentor - all of this has had to be done in her 'spare' time (poor thing!) - I would have loved to have had less actual NQT time to use 'independently' but more time with my mentor, or for that matter any other professional who could give me structured guidance and advice on the little things / how to pace myself etc. In my experience, you don't get to know anyone at these conferences - no one seems at all interested in talking, and certainly not in swapping ideas (not sure why, but I've been to whole mornings of training where no one has spoken to anyone the whole session!) In any case what would you say - you don't know their setting or anything about them to have a useful professional dialogue about the more tricky things or whatever is bothering you! Your idea of getting your NQTs together like this seems fantastic. I also think your idea of lumping it together into whole days every 2/3 weeks is much more managable and useful - it's so hard to turn from one thing to the other otherwise!
4) not sure if this would be the same for secondary, but I'm teaching in Y6 and I've spent quite a lot of my NQT time just observing / being and extra activity leader in Reception - great to just be in a totally different phase and broaden my outlook!
5) time to actually explore the resources the school has - as a trainee you get into the habit of having to make or supply everything yourself and you don't always feel able to go poking around in cupboards and on top shelves!
So all in all, I think your NQTs are going to be a very lucky bunch!
Thank you - obviously I've been very well supported, but it's been 'interesting'! Re courses - what I think is great about your plan is that they will be going together, so will have someone to talk over ideas from the course with, possibly follow up on some of the things and then discuss again - it's that 'embedding in your own practise' bit that can be so tricky when you are inexperienced and you feel like you don't know if you 'are allowed' to experiement with the ideas you've been given or whether it will jar with the setting you are in and with the approach other colleagues are taking - also courses are esp. helpful early on in the year.
Re observing, I'd forgotten this! In my first half term, a teacher who was going on maternity leave taught my class during my NQT time and I observed her each week and this was very useful in terms of things like pace, expectations, how to break things into chuncks, how to differentiate for a very broad range etc, especially as I had no experience of Upper KS2. It was occasionally a bit scary because she is one of those 'magic' teachers that just seems to do everything perfectly without a hair out of place, but it was very helpful and I could have a quick chat with her about anything I was unsure of. It was all quite informal, and I was usually 'working at the back of the class' as far as the children were concerned which worked well as I was a real fly on the wall.
At risk of going on and boring you, another thing I forgot to mention which is really tricky to get the hang of is having confidence in your 'professional judgement' as to what level you are assessing children to be working at. This is for later on in the year obviously, but you can know them inside out in terms of exactly where you would pitch a particular learning objective, but still be all at sea in terms of putting an overall label to it for the whole subject. Going through writing and showing some examples to my mentor and discussing why I'd levelled them a particular way and what her opinion was really helped - you need to be able to listen to an experienced colleagues 'thought processes' to understand how they are weighing up the different elements. Maths - well I'm still not at all sure to be perfectly honest and colleagues just seem to agree with the difficulties I'm having in applying APP ... I'd love to go through that with someone, but not 'in general' - I've had courses on it - I need some time to actually talk about real children in relation to it.
And yes, I definitely think lumping NQT time together is a good idea - otherwise it has a tendency to just fly away with little to show for it, having been eaten into by a crisis that needed sorting out first thing, some emergency paperwork etc etc!
Sorry to go on a bit, but you did say it was useful ...!
Very good. I had forgotten all this from my own 1st year or two 100's of years ago! You are right, really unlocking a lesson is useful. The courses have an action research element which is why I picked them. Anything else useful, I've pasted it all out for my plan. If you can invent a posh name and crazy hairdo the TES would do an article on your ideas!
Haha - my mentor says she always knows exactly how stressed I'm feeling based on one look at my hair! Glad my thoughts have been useful : )