#NQTsurgery: advice for the summer – Twitter chat round-up
The holidays are here! While this should be a time for recuperation and relaxation, NQTs be tempted to get ahead of the game, only to find their precious break swallowed up by work.
Our latest Twitter chat asked a few experts for their advice on how to make the most from the summer, preparing for a new school year and those awkward moments when you run into a student unexpectedly while off-duty...
First up, the big question: what split should NQTs aim for between work and play over the holidays?
@LoveTeachingGB: Lots of play and little work. If you are like the many NQTs I know, they are falling over the finish line. Switch the phone off, unplug, uninstall and unwind. Then do something you love away from teaching.
@PieCorbett: Take at least one month for yourself with no education stuff whatsoever.
@ThatBoyCanTeach: The best 'work' you can do is read some children's books and maybe a good inspiring education book. I'd really recommend making the most of summer - those experiences make you who you are in the classroom.
Maybe do a day in school in the last week? Try to meet up with other teachers who might be going in.
@StandoutTeach: I take along break to recharge then get back to it the second half of the holidays – easier to focus with a fresh, content mind!
@MathsMrCox: Don't do too much planning. There may be things about your new school which you don't yet know which will make your planning redundant. Get as much rest and relaxation as possible. Your NQT year is one of the toughest you'll face.
@MrBenWard: Relax, enjoy your summer. Invest some time preparing for autumn term, familiarise yourself w. the curriculum – but mostly relax!
@TillyMaths: Enjoy your summer holiday. Make a colour-coded timetable. That's it.
@Aubrey_Writes: I'd say plan a couple of week's worth of lessons but no more. You won't know their pace, dynamic, abilities until you know them more. Over planning is a common problem at first – plan a couple of weeks but no more; you'll create more work!
One of the more enjoyable tasks that can be completed in the holidays is setting up your new classroom – what would you recommend decor-wise?
@ThatBoyCanTeach: You can't really know what you need up in your classroom until you've been teaching the children there. Don't go decor-crazy. Create the content on the walls WITH the kids during lessons – and then use wall space to celebrate their work.
@Aubrey_Writes: Make it somewhere children would want to be! Put yourself in their shoes and think what would make you inspired to be there.
I'd also say have a "learning progress' wall – a wall which charts students progress from knowledge acquisition to draft to best phase… This helps children (and you) to see that learning isn't a linear process - it helps students to see that it's okay to develop knowledge over time.
How do you handle it when you run into your students during the holidays? (We know someone who once found themselves in the same holiday resort as a pupil.)
@Aubrey_Writes: Wave enthusiastically – they'll soon run in the other direction!
@LoveTeachingGB: They're normally pleased to see you so just slip into teacher mode - even if it is, like me, at midnight in a curry house.
@StandoutTeach: Say hi to students in the holidays, if they want to chat they will, we're all in the same community after all!
When it comes to setting goals for the new year, what should NQTs be thinking about?
@StandoutTeach: Goal 1: Know your strengths and build on them and share. Goal 2: Know what to improve and find a team to support you. Reflect on what you want to improve in Sept and develop resources or find research to support it – invest some time in your teaching.
@MrBenWard: Build positive relationships with students (and staff!). Focus on your classroom practice. Observe as many teachers as you can. Ultimately, look for the positives in every day, focus on the victories, improvements & progress (not the inevitable mistakes!)
@ThatBoyCanTeach: To thrive, rather than survive. If you only expect to survive, that's all you'll do. Also should aim high but expect to fall (not fail).
@Craftie2004: Making positive relationships early on – once relationships are good, teaching 'happens' a lot easier.
And if NQTs are starting at a new school in September, what advice would you give them for the first few weeks?
@LoveTeachingGB: Befriend and learn from more senior staff members. Quickly get a handle on the culture of the school: the way things are done!
@Aubrey_Writes: Speak to colleagues about your class lists – they know the students and can offer invaluable advice prior to September.
Don't hide away in your classroom – go to the staff room and chat to people. The experience of others is a wonderful help. Get involved with an extracurricular activity, perhaps with another colleague for support, but don't take too much on – don't burn out!
@StandoutTeach: Be prepared for a hectic first day in school - take a big note book, record who told you what so you can ask questions later!
Try also to get a staff list with photos, first names always go down well and you will know who does what!
@ThatBoyCanTeach: Be you.
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