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No guidance from school

Discussion in 'NQTs and new teachers' started by Fresa82, Oct 1, 2020.

  1. Fresa82

    Fresa82 New commenter

    I'm an NQT in a school with several other NQTs. I'm yet to have a formal mentor meeting scheduled, or even more than a 5 minute conversation with them. My mentor is lovely, but extremely busy and usually located on a different site to me (although we do cross paths for about 5 mins at a time about twice a week). I feel a bit like I've just been thrown in at the deep end and left to get on with it. I know the other NQTs in my school are in the same position.

    No one has mentioned when my first observation will be and whether I will have any control over which lesson I am observed in. This is really worrying me, as I have a very mixed bag of classes. I'm getting quite nervous about the observation, with it having been so long since I have had one (last time was in February!) and I have been told that I am unable to observe any other teachers due to Covid. Behaviour is not good in my school, but as I'm not able to observe others I don't know if it is just when I teach or if it is a general issue in the school.

    Does anyone know how many observations we need to have as an NQT? I think I read somewhere that it was 6, but do these need to be evenly spread with one in each half term? We are already halfway to half term and I feel very unprepared for an observation, but being in a local lockdown area, I worry that schools will close or pupils in my classes will be sent home before I can have my obs. I'm also concerned that my school's/NQT mentor's disorganisation will either lead to me having an observation at the last minute, or even worse with my most challenging class (I have one bottom set that apparently no one can get to work!) or with the headteacher!!

    I realise the obvious answer is to e-mail my mentor, but I do not want to stress her out anymore than she already is as she is under a lot of pressure.

    I don't know what I'm looking for posting on here really, other than someone to tell me they're in the same boat, or that it will get better!
  2. peter12171

    peter12171 Star commenter

    You should have ‘regular’ observations, at least two official ones per term so that areas of concern and evidence of improvements can be seen. You should also have a 10% reduction in your timetable, designated as NQT time (in addition to your PPA). One of these, at least, ought to be used as a meeting with your mentor.

    You need to raise this with your mentor (or failing that the person who oversees NQTs in your school) as soon as possible.
  3. Jeremyinspain

    Jeremyinspain Occasional commenter

    Take a deep breath. Trust your training.

    If behaviour is the main priority that you have identified, then concentrate on that. Talk to other staff in your school who teach your most challenging class(es) and steal any suggestions they have. (You will almost certainly discover that most other teachers find them difficult as well.) Remember that behaviour is something that can only be changed slowly. You are not going to find a 'quick fix' - behaviour will only change incrementally.

    One piece of advice I will give you is that your relationship with the children is a very important factor in behaviour management, so make sure you build your relationship with individual children and classes as a whole. That includes giving them engaging lessons that they will enjoy, as well as clear behaviour guidelines and consistent sanctions. (NB, Make sure you know your school's behaviour policy and guidelines inside out.)

    Remember that observations are meant to help you, so I would flag up to any observers that you are concentrating on improving behaviour as you have identified it as an issue. Of course, ask for suggestions from your observers.

    Also remember: There will almost certainly be some 'well behaving' children in all your classes. Remember them. Make sure they are getting a good experience, interesting lessons, a sympathetic ear, etc. It's crucial that you get and keep those children onside, and hope that they recruit others to following your lead.

    As you are discovering, Covid is causing a lot of extra work and disruption for everybody, so some of your problems are predictable. You need to take this into account in a professional manner. Maybe use your 'mentor' by sending quick email questions which can elicit a quick answer. At least that way you will have a record of seeking help and advice in a professional manner. And no matter how tempting it might be to complain, 'I haven't had much help from my mentor!'... I wouldn't go there.

    Act professionally in a very difficult situation. Talk to people you trust. Teach good lessons. Be professional with staff and children. And stay as positive as you can. Simply coming on here for advice is a sign of your professionalism. Good luck.
  4. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Induction is a statutory requirement, therefore your school needs to do certain things such as give you regular meetings with your mentor. Politely request that weekly meetings are arranged. If your mentor is on a different site, they can be online meetings; they should be in school hours. Be as accommodating as you wish, but remember that you are entitled to these meetings and you need them.

    Regarding behaviour - students know which teachers have just joined the school, so will play up for them; students have missed a lot of school, so may be unsettled; anyone who tells you 'they behave fine for for' has their head in the clouds. Ask your mentor for practical advice, e.g. have a task ready for the students to get on with the moment they enter your classroom; you could talk to other teachers about specific problem students, even if you can't observe them (and heads of year, form tutors etc.)

    Can all the NQTs start a WhatsApp group, and share successes, say what's worked for them, etc?

    Familiarise yourself with the statutory requirements here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/induction-for-newly-qualified-teachers-nqts

    Good luck.
    agathamorse likes this.
  5. Bouncyb22

    Bouncyb22 New commenter

    Most schools do 6 observations over the NQT year but I believe the legal minimum is 3. If your mentor is very busy the best thing to do might be to look up their timetable on SIMS and see if they have any lessons where they are not teaching that match up with lessons that you would be happy being observed in. Then you can email them with a list of suggested lessons in which your first observation can take place.

    I was observed by my mentor, a very experienced teacher in my department, and the overall professional tutor at my school over my NQT year so it definitely would not have to be the head teacher if your mentor couldn't make the observation. I told my mentor and professional tutor when I wanted them to come in and observe. Sometimes because I wanted help with that class (mentor) and sometimes because I felt comfortable with that class (professional tutor). Take the initiative and invite the potential observer into your classroom at a time that you think will be best for you. This year is strange and everyone is going slightly insane. The poor trainee in my department is having to manage with two of us mentoring them as her actual mentor is incredibly rushed off his feet!

    Tell your mentor what you need and suggest timings for it and you are much more likely to get a positive response or an idea of when mentor meetings/other support can be offered to you. You will get through this so good luck!
    agathamorse and Skeoch like this.
  6. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    Agree. You need to be a bit proactive here as your mentor clearly isn't, and is indeed failing in their responsibilities. You could also ask to observe other teachers with those problem children: once the difficult ones discover the whole team is on to them, things will improve for all.
  7. Corvuscorax20

    Corvuscorax20 Lead commenter

    ask about meeting your mentor on teams, and maybe recording a couple of lessons. This could get round some of the issues with observations, etc, breaking bubbles

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