NQT Special: Diary of an NQT – Term 1


One term down and this year’s SecEd NQT diarist reflects on some of her successes so far as a new teacher and her areas for improvement next term.

I have set myself the challenge of sharing some of my successes to date. This is quite a push as I still very much feel like a novice and I think the transition from ITE to NQT will take some while yet. I feel surrounded by those who have been teaching for longer, seem to plan with such accuracy, and deliver every class so seamlessly and with precision.

Having said this, on reflection, there are a handful of aspects to my teaching that, after my first term, I believe I can demonstrate more naturally.


I feel I do a relatively respectable job of differentiating  in order to make learning accessible to pupils – mainly through seating plans and planning learning using Bloom’s Taxonomy. Through engaging initial stimuli, like short pieces of reading, film clips, carousel activities, pictures and card sorts to obtain knowledge then using appropriate methods of analysis, comparison and evaluation to apply, stretch and challenge. I feel I am able to engage and facilitate progress for the majority of pupils.

Positive strategies

I have prided myself on teaching through engagement and positive sanctions and rewards. Being a sociologist at heart, I believe very much in encouraging and promoting learning as accessible to all. Whether it be my A* grade pupil with a keen attitude or my “non-attender” who struggles to keep pace with learning when in class. 

I feel it is my responsibility to facilitate the right opportunities for learning regardless. So calling home, rewarding stamps, merits and emailing the year office with good news are activities that are always high on my list of priorities.


Linked heavily to the above is my drive to mark books. One of the most profound pieces of advice I was given as a trainee was to build a rapport and trust with pupils. However, we have limited contact time in which to do this. So while catching up one-to-one is essential, I have found that marking books fairly and regularly is another effective method of maintaining these vital relationships. Giving students “DIRT” (Directed Individual Response Time) allows for two-way communication and invites pupils to challenge and expect more of me.


I feel that I have maintained a pretty consistent and positively behaved set of classes. I hope this is a consequence of the differentiation and rapport-building already mentioned. Even with those classes which I only see once a fortnight I endeavour to maintain consistency. Behaviour management I believe is a reflection of me as the teacher/leader in the room. When disruptions or a lack of attention occurs I try to ensure that I am quick to address what my expectations are (as well as the school’s) on behaviour, but I also see this as a flag to perhaps change an aspect of my planning for learning and progress.

Room to grow?

It is important, I believe, to be positive about my successes so far. However, I do find it very easy to pick holes in what I am not yet good at. I will share this list as well, and I hope that later in the year I can talk about these areas with greater experience and wisdom.


First, planning for learning rather than planning for activities. I have a tendency to plan through activities, using the typical starter, main and plenary. I feel I could do more to plan for pupils’ learning – what do I want them to leave understanding? What progress have they made this hour? How do I know? How do they know? 

I am very organised and methodical and often feel lessons are a tick-list of tasks rather than an opportunity for pupils to infer and classify. We have an amazing school strategy to “flip learning” as much as possible and I need to work more closely towards this.

Reviewing progress

As a school we are retaining the framework of the key stage 3 national curriculum levels for this current academic year. Therefore, I have found Assessment for Learning a little easier so far due to its familiarity. This is potentially going to be reviewed and altered, so confidence with new sets of progress levels will be another learning curve for me when encouraging self and peer-assessment.

Similarly, linked to this is being more confident and comfortable with pupils not writing everything down. I feel awkward in recording progress when it is not visual in an exercise book. I have been encouraged by CPD sessions to resist the need to write down every sentence from the board, to be selective and sensitive to the quality and quantity of what a pupil has to write – is all of it necessary? 

For example, having class debates or giving presentations is a wonderful way of showing application and extent of learning, yet I wrestle with books needing to reflect a lesson’s content; of almost having to have “proof” of work pupils have done. 

I need to become more trusting of my own pupil progress assessments as well as appreciate that the school is trusting of my ability to assess and record progress in a variety of ways. 


I hope I fit with some of you out there who do feel a sense of comfort that you are getting some aspects right, but also understanding that we are running a marathon rather than a sprint. However, the desire to be a model teacher is still burning and I will continue to nudge forward towards this goal.SecEd 

  • SecEd’s NQT diarist this year is a teacher of sociology and philosophy from a school in the South of England. You can read their regular weekly diary for SecEd at www.sec-ed.co.uk/blog-search/author/95


Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code
Claim Free Subscription