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Surviving your first day on supply as an NQT

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Surviving your first day on supply as an NQT

September is fast approaching and for many Newly Qualified Teachers (NQT) exciting times lie ahead, as this means the first day of school is just around the corner…

Making the transition from being a student to an NQT is a step that all teachers must make and at New Directions Education, we believe that the best tips and advice come from those who have experienced it themselves. NQTs Phoebe Lewis and Victoria Isaac both worked with New Directions Education on a supply basis during their NQT years and here they share their experiences, words of wisdom and nuggets of advice to make your first day a breeze.

What can I expect from my first day as an NQT?

First day nerves are normal in any new job, but especially so when you are moving from the realm of Student Teacher to paid work as an NQT. Suddenly, you might feel like you’re on your own when you’re used to having a cushion of support behind you and that can be a daunting prospect. But just remember, you are part of a wider team of teachers with a wealth of experience to share All teachers were in your position once and most will be happy to help you in any way they can.

Victoria’s first position as an NQT was a long-term supply role, where she found that getting to know her team was essential as they gave her valuable advice along the way. She advises you to “make sure you know who the main points of contact are, such as the Head Teacher and any key staff you will be in contact with like the Safeguarding Lead. This way, you will know who to get in touch with if you have questions and be sure to ask any questions, even the obvious ones, as NQTs are not expected to know everything!”

Working on a supply basis with New Directions Education will enable you to build up a wealth of learning and experience as a solid foundation for your teaching career and you will meet people along the way who will be valuable contacts in the future. It is an exciting time, but if you’re feeling anxious about your first day, Phoebe highlights that “nerves are natural so embrace it. Remain open-minded and optimistic. No two days are ever the same, as teaching provides an enormous range of learning opportunities, emotions and challenges, but it’s important to enjoy every experience”.

What should I expect from supply teaching in general?

What to expect as an NQT supply teacher

Working as a Teacher on a supply basis can offer you the chance to work in short and long-term placements, which are great ways for NQTs to build up a range of experiences and decide which direction they want to take their careers in. Victoria worked across a range of long and short-term placements in her NQT year, both of which helped her to complete her portfolio for the EWC. Here’s what she has to say about her experiences:

I have enjoyed my long-term placements as I felt I was given a chance to grow within the same environment and create professional relationships which helped my practice. You can have your own class for that time period and you see how they grow which is fab. As a Supply Teacher, you are not expected to join additional school-based activities (e.g. Inset days). However, I found this very useful for long-term supply as you begin to understand the workings of the school more thoroughly.

I also really enjoyed short-term supply work as I feel I have seen different schools and practices, helping me choose how I want to teach. I found I would be asked back to the same schools (which shows I was doing something right!) which was fantastic. Equally, I found that some schools may have been ‘tougher’ than others. This helped me develop different aspects of my teaching practice (such as behaviour or nurture).”

Working with New Directions Education during your NQT year also offers you an extra layer of support during this transition phase. You will have a dedicated Account Manager on-hand to offer you advice and there are a range of free Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses available for you to take advantage of. Phoebe worked with New Directions and found that “teaching through supply provides the opportunity for flexible working hours” yet she also “valued the professional support and how approachable and friendly the Account Managers are.” Phoebe advises you to “ensure you take advantage of any CPD opportunities on offer, as it will benefit you greatly throughout your teaching career.”

Advice for NQTs

NQT advice

We asked Victoria and Phoebe if they had any hot tips to share with fellow NQTs ahead of the new school year.

Phoebe says “Congratulations! You’ve made it into the best profession in the world. Don’t be afraid to ask for support and keep educating future generations.”

Victoria gave some of her top tips for NQTs:

  • “Buy a 4-in-1 colour pen. Some schools have specific colours for Supply Teachers, others for specific types of comments.
  • Check out the New Direction courses – they are useful and they are free!
  • Keep on top of experiences – just get them done. Use photos, planning and activities as evidence and don’t forget you can use an experience for lots of different Teaching Standards.
  • If you don’t know, ASK. Whether in school, via your Account Manager or the EWC, if you have a question you should ask it.
  • Link up with other NQTs – I have been fortunate to have a support network with my fellow NQT friends which has been helpful when preparing for an unfamiliar key stage or an interview.
  • Make sure you have some time for yourself. A hobby, a book, Netflix, gym membership or the pub. Make sure you spend a little time away from the stresses of work or the NQT year, it will do you good.
  • Don’t worry if you have not completed the NQT year by July – if you are working on a supply basis, you are given the flexibility to continue your days into the next academic year, and you will get there. If there are any major changes, just keep the EWC informed.”

Supply teaching is a great way to start your teaching career as an NQT. We hope you find these tips useful and insightful, but if you have any further questions, just give your Account Manager a call or register with New Directions Education today to join our growing community of NQTs.