Many of you will be about to embark on your NQT year. I imagine you will be feeling equally excited as you are nervous about the next step in what will be a successful career. Here’s my top five tips to survive and thrive during your newly qualified teacher (NQT) year.

Realistic expectations

Whilst you have successfully obtained qualified teacher status (QTS) now, this does not mean that you are no longer developing and learning to become the outstanding teacher you dreamed of being. All teachers are constantly learning to further develop their practice; teaching is a lifelong pursuit of teaching and learning for both you and your students. With this is mind – set realistic expectations for yourself from the start. You will have great successes but you will also experience some failures along the way. The important thing is to be reflective (not critical!) of your own practice and learn from all experiences to become a better-rounded educator. Your school and mentor will not expect that you’re the finished article yet, so don’t go in expecting to be.

Work-life balance

It’s something a lot of people in the profession forever struggle with. You want to meet all the deadlines and expectations that come with the territory of being a teacher, and you want to make a good impression. You can easily start thinking...

“I’m a fresh energetic teacher who is ready to take on the world! There's always the endless supply of coffee available right? And who needs sleep - surely 4 hours is enough?”

Put quite simply - no.

No one should be working like this in the profession and it’s a big issue in the education sector that people feel they have to. You must make sure that you’re doing sensible hours, are getting enough sleep and are having time away from the profession. It can take over your life but you must not let it.

Take some time teaching yourself to prioritise your workload and set a cut off time for your work e.g. a time on an evening when you stop working and have at least one full day off per week away from schoolwork.

Asking for help

Always ask for help. This is a message for all teachers at any stage in their career. If you feel you could do with help, you should always ask for it. Those involved in education worth their salt will be happy to help you should you ask for it, as we should all be helping and supporting one another, as this in turn means we are able to help those that truly matter – the children. You mentor will always be there for support, as will your teaching assistant’s, fellow teachers, senior leadership team and those involved in social media circles from the teaching community. No question is a silly question and you should never feel like you should know as it’s impossible for everyone to know everything.

Use time effectively

Try to make sure you’re using your time effectively. If you can save time of more menial tasks then do so, making sure you use your support team to delegate and aid you as much as possible. During your NQT time, make sure you are using it effectively and using it to reflect upon your own practice and evidence that you’re meeting the teaching standards. It may be tempting to use it for planning purposes, but do spend yourtime to develop your skills and make yourself a better teacher in the long run.

Remember ‘why’

There will be times when it’s tough throughout your career. But always remember why. Why did you go into teaching? Why did you fall in love with the profession? Why are you there and who are you there for?

Take a step back in these moments to reflect on why you got into the profession and why you push yourself to be better each day. The children are what matter the most to us, but you must also look after yourself as well. You’ve got to look after your own wellbeing before you can look after the children’s, so don’t let yourself lose sight on why you wanted to be a teacher in the first place.

Always seek support in these moments and talk to those you feel closest to.

There are many people out there who are there to help. Here at Twinkl, we support those who teach and we are always here to help you be the best you can be.

For regular support and guidance, check out the Twinkl Trainee Teachers resource page and join our Facebook group. We hold weekly live Q&A sessions where we discuss important topics and answer your burning questions. 


Adam Kenyon graduated in 2011 with a BA in Primary Education: Early Years.


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