Diary of an NQT: Improving my practice

Written by: Diary of an NQT | Published:
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With term one under his belt, our NQT diarist is determined to draw on his colleagues' support to improve his practice during the spring term...

The new year celebrations now feel like a lifetime ago and I find myself starting a brand-new term with fresh challenges ahead.

By the end of the autumn term I felt a mixture of exhaustion and pride. It felt to me that making it through my first full term of teaching was the first of hopefully many milestones in my teaching career. With my first term as an NQT now completed, I have found that my priorities and targets have changed somewhat.

In my first term I was predominantly focused on settling in, getting to know my pupils and, most importantly, surviving! Now into my second term, my focus is very much on improving my own teaching practice in order to get the best out of my pupils.

At the end of the autumn term our year 11s did their mock exams. I took the tests home with me to mark over Christmas, a decision which

I now regret. The first few days of the Christmas holidays the tests sat in the corner of the room staring at me, preventing me from being able to relax properly until I had marked them all.

Next time I will mark the tests in school before I leave to go home for the holidays, that’s for sure.

With the mocks now done and dusted though it is full steam ahead towards the GCSEs for the year 11s. I am hoping that I can utilise the mock results to help further motivate my year 11s by setting them individual targets and differentiated worksheets. This should hopefully help to close any gaps in knowledge that have become evident from their tests.

Furthermore, I have now accumulated data on each of the classes that I teach. I intend to use this data to improve my differentiation within the classroom and make more effective use of targeted questioning based on my understanding of their prior knowledge.

Parents’ evenings and report deadlines are now rolling in thick and fast and with that comes additional stress. While I now feel confident that I know my pupils well, I do not know the parents as well. One of my targets for this term is to increase the amount of contact that I have with parents, be it for positive or negative reasons.

By establishing regular contact with home, I am hoping that this will improve the consistency of work completed both in school and at home and help ensure that parents are aware of the standards that I expect.

This term I will continue to ask for pearls of wisdom from my colleagues. At the end of last term, I trialled various behaviour management strategies with some of my more challenging classes as recommended by colleagues. Several of these worked very effectively.

One strategy was a “pass the detention” game, which I used with a year 7 class during silent working time. If anybody spoke during this time then the detention card was passed onto them, and they could only lose said card if they worked at the appropriate noise level for a given time period or if one of their peers spoke (in which case it passed onto them).

This really helped motivate the class during silent work and helped me realise that sometimes quirky teaching methods are worth trialling to see if they are effective with challenging groups.

Now that I have built up relationships with the majority of my pupils and they no longer see me as the new face within the department, I intend to continue to develop my own teaching style and strive to further my understanding of which strategies work best for each of my classes.

With a mixture of nervousness and excitement, I look forward to the many tough challenges, as well as the many wonderful moments, that this new term will bring me.

  • Our NQT diarist this year is a science teacher at a comprehensive school in the West of England.


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