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SOS - I'm Heading into NQT Year!

Friday, February 22, 2019

SOS - I'm Heading into NQT Year!

It’s been said, that starting NQT year is like stepping into the classroom for the first time as a trainee all over again. It can be very nerve-wracking and almost like you’ve forgotten everything you know!

You haven’t. Don’t panic.

You’ve had the training, and you wouldn’t have graduated or got the NQT job if you weren’t capable – just remember that.

Nerves aside, it can also seem like a lot of pressure taking responsibility for a whole class in your NQT year. How do you even begin to find a work-life balance with all you have to do?

‘Be prepared for much more work than you will have experienced. However, it is great to have control over what’s happening!’ – Tasha, Facebook

Now, we promise we’re not trying to scare you out of teaching! We know it’s a tough profession, you probably did too when you started, but it's far from impossible and something you’ll gain so much from over the course of your career. There are few jobs more rewarding than working in education.

What is NQT year all about?

The NQT meaning is 'NEWLY qualified teacher' – ‘newly’ being the keyword here. How often is it that someone takes on a new challenge and gets it right away? Never. Or at least very rarely.

‘I think it’s about realising that you are an NQT, and that means you still have the whole NQT year to learn things. You’re not going to be perfect straight away, it’s impossible, so things are not always going to go to plan.’ – Sophie, Facebook

During your NQT year, you’ll find that you learn more about teaching than you did in all your years at university. Not only will you learn new things about teaching, but you’ll also learn new things about yourself!

It’s ok to make mistakes; the key thing is that you learn from them and aren’t afraid to seek help when you need it. Nobody will expect you to handle things solo or know what you're doing 100% of the time - that comes with experience.

Your NQT year will be a challenge...


You probably will consider giving up at some point. Don’t.

Most classes will have at least one pupil who likes to push their luck, but with time you ’ll understand all your students and how they work. If you do have a challenging student, you can always speak to one of their past teachers to see how they handled their behaviour.

If you’re struggling with work-life balance during your NQT year, talk to your colleagues to see what methods help them – you’ll also find a selection of articles on our blog about this topic.

Should you find yourself in a place where you’re deeply unhappy during your NQT year, it could simply be that you’re in the wrong school – not the wrong job. In this scenario, all you need to do is contact us and we will find you something new.

…but it will also be lots of fun!

Every time a student comes out with a funny comment, shows appreciation, flips their grade around or even displays an act of kindness, hold onto it. There are so many special moments in teaching, and these are the things that you need to remember if you’re ever struggling.

‘A child suddenly notices I have a few grey hairs – like about three. “Errr!” they cry out, “Your hair is all dying!”’ – Julia, Facebook

Kids come out with the funniest of things sometimes, and it’s so refreshing to see the way they look at the world – just enjoy the ride!

You will have to keep working on yourself


Not only during your NQT year, but also as an experienced teacher, keep reading, keep trying new things and keep seeking feedback. Why not speak to colleagues about your lesson plan for a second opinion or create a feedback card to pass to your students at the end of class?

Sometimes, you’ll even have to get cross!

The idea of never having to tell anyone off sounds good, but it can work against you. It’s ok to say ‘no’ sometimes, and for consequences to be set – how else will they learn?

‘Be strict with behaviour expectations from the get-go - it really will help you in the long run!! Have consistency in the way you praise or sanction the children, e.g. ClassDojo points (highly recommend).’ – Sophie, Facebook

We’re not telling you to turn into some evil dragon, but setting boundaries from the start and explaining what you expect will make a world of difference.

Don’t take things to heart

It’s never easy hearing something negative or seeing someone act in a negative way towards you. Think back to when you were at school; it’s often not considered ‘cool’ to be interested in lessons – it’s nothing personal against you. But maybe you can challenge yourself to turn this thought process around!

‘No teacher is perfect and we are all constantly learning.’ - @EganCaitriona, Twitter

Things won't always go to plan, but sadly that's life! Feedback is good, and criticism can be learnt from (although hopefully it's done constructively!).

Time management is everything as a Teacher!

It's easy to get carried away marking and planning lots of grand ideas, which is great, but you also need to allow time for yourself.

‘Mark during the lessons and do some at lunchtime. It saves so much time after school - I rarely have to take books home!’ - Sophie, Facebook

If you have a routine and establish a set of rules for yourself from day one of your NQT year, you’ll cope much better and have time for the things you enjoy throughout your career as a teacher. Ultimately, if you don’t allow time for these activities, you’re not going to be the best version of yourself or the best teacher.

It’s ok to ask for help. In fact, do this as much as you can!


When we asked our community on social media about their NQT experiences, and what advice they would give newly qualified teachers, the one thing that kept being repeated was to seek help from more experienced teachers. There's no shame in doing this – take advantage of the people around you.

Know when it’s time to stop

It's vital that you're getting the rest you need so you’re more productive during working hours. After all, if you’re tired, you won’t be as focused, and it will take longer to do things.

‘Never work past 9 pm. You've got to unwind from the day at some point. If you keep going you'll burn out in that first year.’ – Jen, Facebook

When you’re well rested, you can also think more clearly, handle situations more effectively and feel less stressed. A teacher burnout isn’t going to help anybody, especially not you. So listen to your body and know when enough’s enough.

‘Make sure you take time off – you can’t do everything!’ - @LukeRicha, Twitter

Let things go

Holding grudges isn’t going to help anyone. Kids have good days, and they also have bad days – some, of course, tend to have more bad days than others! But, holding grudges doesn’t only affect them, it affects you too.

‘Treat every day as a fresh start, don't hold grudges for poor behaviour the day before. It's likely the kids have forgotten.’ – Jen, Facebook

Entering the classroom with a smile and fresh attitude is the best way because the children don’t have any negative energy to bounce off, and you’ll feel much better too.

Remember, even if you really love your job (which hopefully you do!), there are other things to life – go out and enjoy them! When you’re home, try to think about work as little as possible.

‘Chill out, let it go and go to sleep.’ – Emma, Facebook


To learn about the teaching opportunities that SupplyNow has to offer, both as a supply teacher and permanent teacher, get in touch with our friendly team!

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