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Work - life balance for an NQT

Discussion in 'Health and wellbeing' started by tobyr2385, Aug 1, 2012.

  1. Hi all,
    I'm guessing this is the right place to post this?
    I'm an NQT. I don't have to plan my lessons on the same scale as I did during my PGCE year, nor write assignments that bored me.
    In theory I have more time to myself, so my question is how do I achieve a work-life balance in my NQT year?
    Should I plan a non-school related activity for a few nights a week?
    I'm moving to a new town, where I know nobody but within driving distance of people I do know, so making new friends both colleagues and "civilians" (I'll term them) is a priority for me.
    I spent the majority of my PGCE year talking to a handful of people - mostly about school - and other people I met were usually students, some nearly a decade younger than myself!
    Some teaching friends have said that the NQT year is easier, others have said it's more difficult. Am I in for a shock?
  2. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    Make it a rule to leave at an earlier time at least once a week. Don't let the job take over your life. Sign up for an evening class / keep fit class or something that is on at a given time every week so that you are more likely to go.See if your new colleages go to the pub on a Friday if they have a cake rota and join that. I used to find that I got more done in school when going in earlier rather than staying later, when staying later , other people would come and chat to me and then less work got done, Those same people would be saying "I'm here till 6 o clock every night!" Best of luck to you
  3. Mrs_Frog

    Mrs_Frog New commenter

    I did my NQT year 10 years ago, and although the general pressures appear to be the same, I do believe that I did not have it as challenging as it appears today, although to be fair, I had a hell of a time, with one thing and another!
    I was lucky in that my PGCE built us up to around the 75% of the full timetable, so going to the NQT 90% was perfectly manageable. The biggest shock was year 2, when there is not the same support and you are on the full timetable.
    It will be important to start as you mean to go on, and make sure that you schedule in time for yourself, because if you do it in your NQT year, you are more likely to continue with it.
    You will be in for a shock, and no one can say anything that can prepare you for it. However, it is how you handle that shock is the key. Usual stuff, such as time management, organisation, planning etc etc, but you would have covered all that in the PGCE.
    Good luck
    MF x
  4. I'm going into my 4th year and am still trying to develop a better work life balance. I've made more of an effort this past year to go out with colleagues after work, for coffee, a meal or drinks. If we have a late because of parents' evening or twilight insets, I will arrange a meal and people like coming out to eat rather than going home and having to cook. It also means that people switch off as soon as they leave school, rather than going home to do more school work.

    I've got involved in extra curricular things too, like Duke of Edinburgh's award, and have developed great friendships with colleagues as a result, as well as having a blast with the kids on expeditions.

    I'm currently toying with the idea of signing up to do a GCSE night class from September, to give me something to do of an evening that doesn't involve my red pen! Friends who have done it really enjoyed it and because you pay up front people tend to be more disciplined about going to get their moneys worth!

    If you have any hobbies or interests, are there related clubs you could join in your area?

    Finally, as a word of caution be sensible about how much you take on. Yes the NQT year is easier than the PGCE in many ways, but you still have an awful lot to learn. There are new pressures and demands on your time. You will continue to redefine your understanding of the word tired. It is fab having lots to look forward to that doesn't involve school, but it can be equally lovely to know that on Friday after a very long week and an even longer term you can go home, close the door and vegetate mindlessly in front of the TV if that's all you feel up to doing.

    good luck!
  5. My NQT year was a piece of cake after my PGCE as I worked part time in a supermarket to supplement my grant/loan.

    How to manage a work life balance? I really think it depends on your subject - if it's a subject which is marking heavy such as English or History then good luck as the amount of marking you have to do is huge.

    The only advice I have is maintain a social life outside of teaching and teachers. This will help you gain perspective on school issues which can be all consuming and remember dull people (those without social lives and personal interests) make dull teachers so it's in your pupils' best interests for you to have a bit of a life! [​IMG]
  6. Yeah, that's what I thought. NQT is tough. You may not have essays and exams, nor is the planning as extensive but it'll be much harder than your PGCE. For numerous reasons but the centre of them is the responsibility, it's all on you. You have to lead a TA (if you have one), work with collegues, get to know in quite personal depth 30 individuals, deal with/comfort/reassure/tactfully disagree with parents or carers and that's not even including the mountains of paperwork to do...
    So, the most important thing you can do is stop. A few times a week, make sure you down tools and stop thinking about work. It's hard but you must do it. I started my NQT in September and suffered under the enormous pressure of being a primary teacher. I was signed off sick with depression for 2 months and subsequently got early release from my contract with 1 term of NQT still to do.
    I went to bible study group on wednesday nights and yoga on tuesday nights. I stuck rigidly to these, an I'm very glad I did otherwise I would have broke down much earlier than March I'm certain.
    Best of luck, teaching is the greatest job but the toughest too.
  7. Hi,ive just completed my nqt, to be honest it was a lot easier then my pgce. As I was teaching in a very large school it helped asking other teachers for advice. Everyone will understand that you are new and will wiling to give you ideas and help you out. Set yourselfs target to never leave school after 4 on certain days. At least 2 days a night. This will help your work life balance. I find it easier to go into school at seven in the morning so I can leave early. Hope this helps and enjoy and make the most out of your year'!!!!!
  8. I found the NQT year tougher but more enjoyable than the PGCE. I found the split priorities of balancing essays and planning during the PGCE really stressful so enjoyed the fact that I had a single focus for my NQT. However, teaching almost a full timetable can be quite emotionally draining.
    My tips are:
    • Arrive an hour before school starts, have a coffee, respond to emails and generally get yourself settled. I found this calm start to my day really helped me prepare for the craziness after the first bell!
    • Plan for EVERY free period by writing a task in pencil in your teacher planner e.g. mark 7RJ or plan year 9. It is so easy to waste free periods by responding to emails, searching for endless photos to jazz up powerpoints etc! Be as efficient as you can be during working hours.
    • Work out whether you work better at school or home and stick to it. I used to write the tasks that I wanted to complete in a day on mini post its and stick it to my planner page. I would try not to leave until they had been completed as if I didn't complete it, I knew I would have to stick it on to the next page. However, in my new school I find it very hard to work at school so make sure I leave as close to 4pm as I can. I go straight home, make a cup of tea and sit at my computer. Whatever works best for you - DO NOT feel that you should stay at school just to be seen.
    • DO NOT work past 4pm on a Friday! Make sure you go to the pub with colleagues at least once a half term. You'll need support from friends during your NQT year and the pub is the best place to build friendships!
    • Book a couple of days away during school holidays. I used to go to stay with various family members. You'll probably want to use the holidays to catch up on marking etc but make sure you book work days into your diary and stick to it so that any other days are proper rest days without the thought of work hanging over your head.
    • NEVER check work emails on your phone. It may seem harmless but it will turn into an obsession!
    • Try to book in at least one observation of different teachers and subjects per week. Never again in your career will you have the time to do this so make the most of it.
    • Take advantage of any free CPD provided by your LEA or Borough.
    • Enjoy your NQT year and have the confidence to say no to extras - it is better to do what you have to do well than stretch yourself too thin.
    Good luck!

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