NQT Special Edition: Moving from NQT to RQT

Written by: Steve Burnage | Published:
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Steve Burnage talks us through a CPD workshop for new teachers, with free handouts and slides. The CPD looks at reflecting on your NQT year, making the step up to RQT, and preparing for whatever lies ahead...

The purpose of this article is to provide a summary of a 45-minute interactive training session that could be suitable for an NQT meeting, development group, small group CPD session or for individual study.

The training outline is included here while the PowerPoint slides and an accompanying participants’ handout is available to download from the SecEd website (click above).

Slides 1 & 2: Welcome

By the end of this training you will be able to:

  • Reflect on your learning from your NQT year.
  • Share best practice and lessons learned.
  • Plan for the year ahead both professionally and personally.

Begin by discussing: As you become an RQT (recently qualified teacher) and there is greater expectation of you, a little less support and, yes, perhaps an even greater workload, what can you do to make the transition from NQT to RQT as smooth as possible?

Slide 3: Practice the craft of the classroom

New techniques are only useful if they don’t add extra stress to your workload, are simple for students to understand, and improve the atmosphere and rate of learning in your classroom. In short, always keep the quality of students’ learning and progress at the forefront. What highly effective classroom techniques would you share with colleagues. What evidence do you have that they are highly effective? How do you plan to develop them next year?

Slide 4: Plan, plan and plan

It is tempting to assume that, now the pressure of your NQT year is coming to an end, you can relax a bit on the relentless planning and preparation. Taking down time is important but don’t take your eye off the ball:

  • Ensure you prepare exciting, engaging and challenging lessons.
  • Experiment and take risks with a strategy or technique.
  • Be your own teacher and keep learning through self-reflection and the sharing of good practice.
  • Try to make your subject relevant to your pupils.
  • Share your passion for your subject – it is passion that will engage your students above content.
  • Be guided but not controlled by whoever has curriculum responsibility for your subjects.

Slide 5: Marking

Having gotten to the end of your NQT year, you will know all too well that marking can take up so much time and yet so much of it is ineffective and makes little difference to the learning and progress of your students. So:

  • Ensure written feedback is as succinct and meaningful as possible.
  • For each piece of in-depth marking – perhaps two pieces of work every six to eight lessons – write two “WWWs” (what went well) and one “EBI” (even better if). Give your students a short task so that they have to address their EBI.
  • Consider ordering stamps and stickers to save you repeatedly writing the same comments.
  • Devise a coding system where you write short symbols on work, produce a key and then make students copy down the comments that correspond with the specific codes and symbols that you’ve written. This is not only a more economical use of your time but it forces students to engage with written feedback.

What marking and feedback tips have you learned this year that you would pass on to the new cohort of NQTs in the autumn?

Slide 6: We all make mistakes

Reflect on how you can improve and allocate some time each week to your own development by:

  • Revisiting key learning theories.
  • Talking with and observing colleagues.
  • Reflecting on and evaluating your own practice.

Slide 7: Time is precious – manage it well

What have your learned from your NQT year that has enabled you to manage your time well? Consider your approaches to time management. Can you make good use of your time by:

  • Organising the day by priorities – do the worse task first and then tackle the urgent, and then the important. Leave the stuff you enjoy until last since it will take less time.
  • Avoiding “loaded” procrastination – we can fill our time with thinking about what needs to be done and talking about what needs to be done. Don’t – just do it!
  • Planning for potential crises – always have a back-up plan. What happens if you plan to write reports on a Friday afternoon and, for some reason you lose that free time. How will they get done?
  • Setting aside personal time – remember to plan time for you as well as planning time for work. We work to live...

Slide 8: Work/life balance is important

As you near the end of your NQT year, what will you plan to do to better manage your work/life balance in the year ahead?

Your work/life balance has to be important so that you can prioritise your life over anything else. So, what can you do to manage your work/life balance in the future:

  • Sort out your priorities – make a list of the things that are important to you and decide when you are going to give them some time.
  • Tell people firmly and politely that you won’t have time or be able to do something at work.
  • Put aside some time every week where you can just be yourself.
  • Remember, you may enjoy it but school is work. It is great to enjoy your job, but if you keep on putting that extra effort in, you will start to resent it, and so will the people around you.
  • Live in the present moment, not the future. Anxiety about the future is one of the chief causes of stress. We can all spend hours worrying about what ifs – better to focus on the things you know are real and true, not things that you cannot determine or influence.
  • Talk to people you trust about a particular situation or issue you are concerned with.
  • Don’t sweat about the small stuff. If the borders on your display are crooked – well so what? They won’t actually stop the children from learning. Time is precious in teaching so make use of all the resources and tools that you have available to you.
  • Steer clear of staffroom politics and gossip.

Slide 9: Learning to say ‘no’

How successful have you been at saying “no” to colleagues who have tried to add to your work or commitments? As you move onward from your NQT year, it will remain difficult to say “no”, as you don’t want to seem unwilling. So what can you do?

  • Say it – don’t beat around the bush or offer weak excuses: just say “no”.
  • Be assertive and courteous – you might say: “I’m sorry I can’t right now but will let you know when and if I can.” This approach is polite and puts you in a position of power by changing the dynamic.
  • Set boundaries – people sometimes have a hard time saying no because they haven’t taken the time to evaluate their relationships and understand their role within the relationship. When you truly understand the dynamic and your role, you won’t feel as worried about the consequences of saying no.
  • Put the question back on the person asking – this is highly effective in a work situation. You might say: “I’m happy to do X, Y, and Z; however, I would need three weeks, rather than two, to do a good job. How would you like me to prioritise them?”
  • Be firm – if someone can’t accept your polite “no”, then stand firm and don’t feel compelled to give in just because that person is feeling uncomfortable.
  • Be selfish – put your needs first. Not those of the person asking you for something.

So, what are you going to do to say “no” more effectively in the year ahead?

Slide 10: Get to know the school community

As you become more confident with the basic delivery of your subject you may feel you have time to get involved with students’ events outside your subject and get to know your colleagues well.

  • Ask colleagues about their plans and if there is a staff football team, gym or routine visits to the pub then ask if you can pop along.
  • Another way to get to know colleagues is to ask them for a favour. For example, ask art for colouring pens or PE for stop clocks.
  • Never be afraid to ask for help.

What do you plan to do to get to know your school community better? What will stop you doing this, and how might you overcome this barrier?

Slide 11: Making it work at work

Activity: What will you do as a result of this workshop? Working in groups, look at the action sheet you have produced during the training: what are the three key learning points for you?

  • Steve Burnage has experience leading challenging inner city and urban secondary schools. He now works as a freelance trainer, consultant and author for staff development, strategic development, performance management and coaching and mentoring. Visit www.simplyinset.co.uk and read his previous articles for SecEd, including his previous CPD workshop overviews, at http://bit.ly/2u1KW9e

NQT Special Edition

This article was published as part of SecEd’s NQT Special Edition. The publication offered eight pages of specialist best practice advice for NQTs and trainee teachers across the UK. Supported by the NASUWT the special edition published on June 28, 2018, and the eight pages are available to download as a free pdf from SecEd’s Supplements page: www.sec-ed.co.uk/supplements


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