NQT Special Edition: Advice from year 2

Written by: Anonymous | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

Every week, SecEd’s NQT diarist reports on their trials and tribulations in the classroom. For this special edition, we asked last year’s diarist, who is now in their second year at the chalkface, to offer some advice to this year’s NQTs

So you have survived your first half-term – almost!

It will have been a slog. During the last three months, you will have had just one week of “rest” (read: marking, planning, sending emails, making resources...). But the end of term is nigh and soon there will be just two terms left, not that you are counting.

You are a real teacher

You are starting to feel like a real teacher and the good news is that you feel that way because you are!

It is often very easy to still feel like a trainee in your NQT year – you have immersed yourself in your new school and you are still learning the ropes and at the same time you are trying to ground yourself and get students used to who you are and your expectations.

But, the first thing I think it is important to remember is that you are a fully fledged teacher – just as much so as Mr Jones who has worked at the school for the last 35 years. In the eye of the students you are exactly the same – some weirdo who decided to leave school, go through yet more education and eventually end up back in a school. Why would you do that?!

We all know why. On a normal day you love teaching, standing in front of a bunch of students passing on your love for your subject.
Of course, we don’t always feel that way. If you have not already got to the end of a lesson (or a day) and sat pondering what on earth you are doing with your life then you are a far better teacher than I. We all have those days and that’s okay.

Classroom management

Speaking from year 2, one of the most important pieces of advice I can give you is to learn to forget about the previous lesson. I guarantee you that whatever incident might have happened last lesson is completely forgotten about by the students as soon as they leave your classroom.

In my NQT year I used to get stressed during lessons about students’ attitude towards me and then I would hold onto that feeling all week long. By the time it came round to teaching that group again I would feel anxious and be thinking only about what had happened in that previous lesson.

However, you have to remember that whatever behaviour you see in your classroom it is often not targeted at you. Usually students are affected by things outside of the classroom, things that you don’t even know about.

It is important to remember that students are half-baked! They aren’t fully cooked like you or I. We have to give them a bit of leeway to be children and learn from their mistakes.

If there has been an incident or problems, I always try and start my lessons like nothing happened last lesson. I give each student a fresh start and I really think that has helped me to grow as a teacher and it certainly helped me to form strong student-teacher relationships throughout my NQT year.


Another thing to remember is that there is always more to do. This is something that bothered me during my training and NQT year. I love to be organised and like to have an empty to-do list at the end of the day. However, I have some bad news for you. This is not possible as a teacher. There is always something that needs to be done. You have to learn to prioritise your school life. Have a group tomorrow and you haven’t marked their tests? Top of the list. Need to add something to the literacy display? Does it need doing right now? Then relax a bit.

I am now much more comfortable with prioritising tasks and making sure I have a clear plan of what I am going to do and when it will be completed. Remember, it is okay to not do any work when you get home if you don’t feel like it!

Talk to the students

The best thing about my NQT year was the students. Don’t just ask them questions in lessons, don’t just teach them – take the time to talk to them as well.

I was fortunate in that I started teaching in the school that I trained at. I knew a few groups already by this time last year. Now I know most of the students in school and it is great.

Ask them about the weekend. Ask them if they saw the most recent Game of Thrones episode. Most of the time I love my job. That isn’t because of the marking or planning. It is because of the students in school. They are such a mixed bunch of young adults and they make every day different and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

Also, go to your school play. Go to watch the orchestra perform. Go to a football game. I never knew I taught so many talented students. Every student is great at something and it is lovely to see them in their element.

Most importantly relax. You are no longer being watched every hour of the day. You have your own groups and responsibilities. Ask for help if you need it.

Relax and enjoy every moment.

  • This article has been written by SecEd’s NQT diarist from the 2015/16 academic year. He is now a second year teacher of science at a school in the Midlands.

NQT Special Edition: Free download

This article was published in SecEd as part of our November 2016 eight-page NQT Special Edition. The Special Edition, which was published with support from the NASUWT, offers best practice advice and guidance ranging from classroom practice and wellbeing to workload and your rights and entitlements as an NQT. You can download the entire NQT Special Edition as a free 8-page pdf via http://bit.ly/2fAp3q0


Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code
Sign up SecEd Bulletin