I have just had the pleasure of completing my NQT year after working for five years within the education sector. Pleasure being the operative word but thanks to my school and my mentor, this year hasn’t been that bad. Strangely, I have enjoyed it, but I have felt guilty, I see on Twitter (@thorley_mr) all sorts of tweets from fellow NQT's who let's say, isn't having a great time of things. When I started, lots of advice was thrown my way, some good, some bad and I have tried and tested as much of said advice as possible. Some has worked well; some hasn't. That is what your NQT year is about, finding your feet and becoming the teacher you want to be. Not everything will work, but that's ok. Here are five bits of advice that worked well and my reasons why every NQT should follow these. 1. Set high standards from the start- This is a must. Do not be their friend. Keep those boundaries clear from the start. Fortunately, I was involved with a school for five years before I became an NQT, so I had seen this done well and done poorly. Let them know your expectations and make sure they keep to them. Be firm but fair, once you have set your expectations and the pupils work to them- you can always tone it down and become more relaxed. It is tough to set high standards once you've let the pupils do what they want for a month. First impressions are very hard to get rid of, so don't give anyone an excuse to think you're not the amazing teacher you know you are. Don't let the pupils believe you're a pushover. I pride myself on the fact that my students think of me as a "fun teacher who makes us write loads". 2. Form relationships- Take an interest in your kids. If you're a robot and treat the pupils like robots. That is what you will get. Show your human side. Find out their hobbies, likes or dislikes and form a relationship over them. This year, I have found myself discussing Burton Albion FC, WWE and horses. It's safe to say my knowledge on all three of these isn't top notch, but I have made it work. What a great opportunity this is to show your personality, maybe let them know about yourself as well. It is all about breaking down the barriers, as long as you keep it professional, this is a guaranteed win 3. Give as much outside of the classroom as inside- Get involved in everything possible! Be part of the whole school community. Don't isolate yourself to your subject or your room. Get out and be seen. School trips, extra-curricular clubs, fancy dress, fundraising activities – it will make the year more enjoyable for you, and the pupils see you in a different light – it can have a positive effect on your students' behaviour! This year, I have run a film club and the Year 7 football team. You wouldn't believe how easily I became established with the pupils and staff when they saw me being pro-active and giving up my free time. In reality, I'd have only been eating my lunch or checking my emails, so why not go out and spend time with the people we work so closely with on a day to day basis. Another easy win for me this year has been taking on a lunchtime duty most days. It's an excellent opportunity to talk with the students about things you wouldn't discuss all the time in the classroom. Get out there and be seen. It will do your reputation no harm at all. 4. Beg, Steal and Borrow- From my experience, there is a stigma attached to and around this issue. New teachers feel they have to create all their lessons from scratch. Wrong. Why reinvent the wheel? Most departments will have schemes of work and a bank of lessons you can already use, as well as websites like TES and others that have thousands of lessons readily available. You will need to adapt lessons for a lower or high ability group but using what is already out there will save you so much time in the long run. Also, observe other teachers and steal their tricks! What time do they go home, and how do they manage it? What are their short cuts? 5. Enjoy it! - It's hard. I won't lie. It will push you and challenge you like never before. However, it is so rewarding when you see the impact that you can make. If you follow the first four tips, the children will love you for it. Work smarter, not harder. Do you need to sit and chat in the staff room when you could be marking or planning? That will save time. You must take breaks, try to have free time in evenings and weekends and whatever you do, do not work through your hard earned school holidays. There has been a real shift in focus within education over the past two to three years. It's not about being up all night working yourself into early retirement or illness. It's about being there for your pupils. It's about guiding them through the hardest part of life, and hopefully, you help them to make a positive impact on the world. What do you think? Agree or Disagree. Let me know.