What Do I Do On The First Day?
- Class expectations, rewards and behaviour management systems (perhaps doing a class charter/contract)
- Class routines (beginning / end of the day routines, book bag routines and homework routines
And that really is it! Those are the ‘must do’s’. Obviously these won’t take a whole day, so start as you mean to go on by running with the timetable. Do an English lesson which you can use as a baseline assessment (for example, get them to write a letter to you about themselves!). In Maths, introduce some counting games or even the first topic and see what they already know. For Topic you can get the children to brainstorm what they already know about the topic and what they’d like to know.
I Haven’t Been Given Assessment Data – Help!
Firstly, please don’t panic about this! You will be given this is due course, but the main thing for you to concentrate on now is your day to day lessons. Most schools will give you access to the data via a dedicated assessment program (for example Sims – also known as AM7) and often you can access this from the first few days. But the children will all have been assessed at the end of the previous year, and unless your school particularly asks you to assess again, don’t worry about it!
The biggest tip is, find out who your different groups are (HAPs, SEN, PPG etc) and make sure you are planning appropriately for them. Summative assessment will come in time, but until you actually need to worry about it – don’t!!
You might hear a lot of teachers planning to do assessments in the first week. However, unless you are a Year 6 teacher then there really is no need at all. The best idea is to do one piece of independent writing in the first few days to give you a base line to plan from as children often go backwards in the 6 weeks holiday. As for Maths, please don’t worry about any formal assessment. Instead, look ahead to the first topic you are doing in Maths and do some general formative assessment so you know what to pitch your lessons, but definitely don’t worry about doing anything more than this. It’s not needed and it’s not worth the stress for both you and the children.
Everyone I Know Has Planned For Weeks And I Haven’t – What Do I Do?
If this has happened then you should absolutely congratulate yourself! The people who have done short term plans for more than 2 or 3 days at a time have potentially given themselves a lot more work to do, as you can’t possibly plan successful lessons before you know what the children can already do! For Maths and English, you want to only be planning a maximum of 3 days in advance, then your formative assessment will inform the last 2 days. That way you can guarantee you are planning for the children you have, not just planning standard lessons!
As for subjects where you only have a few lessons a week, you could do a Medium Term Plan which covers a half term, and then use those plans, with a little bit added, as your Short Term Plan! I’ve heard of some people doing a Long Term Plan as well. If you haven’t and your school hasn’t asked you to, then this is another don’t! The Long Term Plan is nearly always put together by the Head or by a scheme of work you are following, and you don’t then need to put it into a different format! Don’t redo work already done!
I Haven’t Received My Contract Yet – Do I Actually Have A Job?
The short answer is – yes! Once the Headteacher offered you the job then you have a verbal contract with them (teaching is, oddly, one of the only jobs where this works!) The long answer is that your contract will be coming to you but can take up to a few months if not up until Christmas. If you are working for an Academy then you might get it sooner as they may do contracts in-house.
Will I Definitely Have An NQT Mentor? My School Hasn’t Mentioned it!
One of the key rights for NQTs is the right to an in school mentor to guide you through induction. So if you haven’t been told who that is as yet, you will almost definitely be introduced to them on the first day back. If you find that you haven’t been told by the end of the day, go to the Head and ask who it is and then go and find them yourself. You are also entitled to an individual programme of monitoring and support and a reduced timetable!
Do I Really Need To Join A Union?
The definitive answer here is YES!
To be very clear, you don’t HAVE to join a union. There is no rule or law that says you must. However!! As a member of a union you know that you have someone to turn to when or if something goes wrong. They can offer support for you for nearly everything you can come across in schools from contracts to capability to sickness and whistleblowing. You never know when you might need a union, and you can guarantee that if you are not in one, then you’ll need one! So take a look at the different option out there, pick one and join up!
So there you go – the top 6 FAQs for NQTs beginning their teaching career this September. Most of the questions you have will almost definitely be answered the minute you start your first INSET day. However, join our highly supportive Facebook Group – The Primary NQT Tribe, where you can ask any questions you have over your NQT year and have it answered by a Primary Headteacher!
Have you go any other FAQs for NQTs that you think would be useful? Let me know in the comments below.