Diary of an NQT: Some early challenges in term one

Written by: Diary of an NQT | Published:
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The first weeks of the autumn term has thrown up a number of challenges for our NQT diarist, but slowly and surely he is settling into life at the chalkface...

I am still alive! What a rollercoaster the first few weeks have been. Despite meticulous preparations in August, it did not take me long after starting to realise that there is only so much you can prepare for. Before I had even started to teach lessons, it was difficult not to feel overwhelmed with everything I needed to remember to do...

Getting started

The first challenge was the inevitable changes to classes and timetables at the start of term meaning that my ready-made seating plans had to be redone on several occasions. Then trying to learn the names of all of my pupils in the first few lessons was nigh-on impossible. One of the tricks I quickly learned was to have a printed seating plan on my desk. This has helped me to feel more confident and to avoid awkward moments of forgetfulness during lessons!


Another early stumbling block! My school has a two-week timetable and I have one week that is far busier than the other. Having started on the busier of the two weeks, I found myself working late into the night every day of the first week, planning for a full day’s worth of lessons the next day. By the time the first weekend came around I was exhausted. That first week taught me that, where possible, I needed to get ahead with my planning. Thankfully, the second week meant that I could do just that.

Pace of lessons

Adjusting to the pace of each of my classes has been another difficulty. While some of my pupils fly through the content and need lots of extension work, others need extra support and it is a struggle to ensure that I deliver all of the necessary content planned for each lesson.

I am still finding out which teaching approaches work best with each of my classes, as every class is different and comes with its own challenges. I have found that printing off extra extension tasks as well as having some support tasks available for each lesson has been a useful way of meeting the academic needs of each of my pupils.


Ensuring that I correctly implement the school’s behaviour policy was one of my biggest worries prior to starting the year and there have been moments in my first few weeks when this has been particularly difficult, especially with pupils in older years.

The key has been to try and remain as consistent as possible. Asking my colleagues for advice on how best to manage different classes has been pivotal, too. I have been able to use strategies such as altering seating plans to tackle early problems.

Settling in

Both my colleagues and the pupils have been instrumental in helping me settle in, with a friendly “how are you doing sir?” going a long way to making me feel truly at home.

Over the next few weeks I intend to start managing my time more efficiently, ensuring that I am able to maintain a healthy work/life balance.

However, I have truly enjoyed getting to know my pupils and getting stuck into life as an NQT. Despite moments of panic on the busiest of days, or stress when a lesson has not gone as planned, there have been a plethora of positives to be taken from my first few weeks.

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


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