As the final term draws to a close, it can be a scary prospect considering the end of your year as an NQT. Although having that NQT tag pinned on you all year has felt as though you are constantly highlighted as the “newbie", it has also served as a wonderful comfort blanket for gaining quick support and answers when you need them the most.
Though a strange feeling, next year you may find that your staffroom is filled with a few fresh but nervous faces – people who are wearing that very tag that you will have finally disposed of. You will be qualified – you will be the go-to guy or gal to answer questions, share resources and explain evidence of the standards. Your regular mentor meetings will end and, for once, you may feel like you are on your own.
In advising you on how to prepare for that first momentous year as a fully qualified teacher, I will draw on the trusty characters from the sitcom Friends, who certainly saw me through my many years of education!
Just like super-organised Monica, you will still need to be hyper-organised in year two. You will still have to get excited about cross-referencing folders (because your NQT folder isn't the only folder you will need to make), using different colours for marking, and maintaining a work environment that is not only engaging for the kids, but also for you.
So get out the rolls of display paper, print off the online font templates and set up the tables how you feel best – it is your classroom now! Stay organised and on schedule – I firmly believe organisation is the most important skill a teacher can have and this will prove invaluable as your teaching timetable increases.
Joey's comments can sometimes cause him to be the outsider of the group, and at times you may still feel like the naïve one of the faculty who seems to be inexperienced or unsure of how to handle a situation. Sometimes you may feel as though you have suggestions that are pushed aside, which can be a little demoralising. Remember that even though qualified, you are still learning and you will still make mistakes, so don't take it as a measurement of your success as a teacher. Shake it off, keep the suggestions flowing and don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it – the support is still there for you, but you may have to learn to ask for it now.
Just like outlandish Phoebe, you need to put yourself out there and continue to experiment. Being fully qualified doesn't mean you know everything (if only it did!) and the education sector will continue to adapt and develop around you.
Just because someone isn't in the room with you to observe you attempting something new, doesn't mean that you can't. Whether it is as simple as a new resource, teaching a revision song or taking a lesson outside of the classroom – break boundaries and give it a go.
And if you look a little “crazy" like Phoebe, who cares? I created an elaborate mock murder scene on the playground to advertise a Shakespeare production audition within the first few weeks. To staff I may have looked crazy, but to the kids Shakespeare suddenly became a lot more exciting (and our sign-ups dramatically increased!)
Exactly as ambitious Chandler did, don't be afraid to seek promotion within this year. If you feel you are on the ball with your teaching game and you're organised, as internal roles become available you may want to consider putting yourself forward for a small TLR. Your lack of teaching experience shouldn't hold you back when applying for smaller responsibilities. Even though, like Chandler, it may require learning something that is out of your comfort zone (like pastoral work or second in charge of faculty), the only way you can progress is by putting yourself forward. Once people see you are ambitious and eager, an opportunity will present itself.
When Ross got his new job lecturing at a university, he invested in a pair of roller-skates to get from one classroom to another in time for his next lesson and still found himself arriving late and flustered! As your teaching timetable increases, you may feel as though you need a pair too – the day flies by. I get to 4pm after clubs have finished and wonder where the day went and why my to-do list is far longer than it was in the morning, even more so on a day with no free periods.
As one class leaves and another arrives on constant rotation throughout the day it can make you feel somewhat flustered at the start, which is easily solved by being prepared and establishing a clear routine. Use your free time wisely but know when to call it a day – your work/life balance is imperative.
And the best bit (that seems to be a taboo subject) – your teaching timetable isn't the only thing that will increase, your pay cheque will too! So just like our favourite shopper Rachel, enjoy your hard-earned money because you really deserve every penny. Treat yourself – and don't spend it all in Paperchase! (Even though I know decent stationery is every teacher's guilty pleasure...)
Research shows that teachers are more likely to work overtime than employees in any other sector and so I can't stress the importance of finding the time when outside of work for your loved ones, friends and family.
You may find that as you invest yourself in to your career, your term-time availability for these wonderful people who keep you afloat is limited.
So just as the cast of Friends do – find time to grab a coffee and tell them the many humorous stories of life as a teacher (because let's be honest, our stories are always far more engaging than those of the office workers in our friendship circles)!
Sarah Viccars is in her second year as a teacher of the performing arts at Burnt Mill Academy, a performing arts specialist school in Essex. She was SecEd's NQT diarist last year.
NQT Special Edition
This article was published as part of SecEd's NQT Special Edition – an eight-page special published on June 25, 2015, offering guidance, advice and support to all NQTs and trainee teachers. To download the full eight-page section, which was produced in association with the NASUWT, click the Supplements button above