NQT – Where to start?

Woohoo you got your first job! Congratulations and well done! After the initial relief of getting a job sets in – you are often met with a nervous but excited feeling. So here are a few tips that might help you for the first few days.

Enjoy the summer holidays

I know you are probably dying to get started but really the most important thing is to relax and enjoy the summer. There will be extremely busy periods during your first year (and subsequent) years of teaching and the best way to prepare yourself is to start off feeling relaxed and well rested.

Planning

There is no point in starting your planning – especially weekly planning – other than the first few days or the first week. You need to get to know the children – see what they are interested in and try to use this to motivate and interest them in the learning. There may be school plans available which you will may need to use (with some changes to suit your class.). There may be certain books/resources available in the school that you could use.

I got my first job (Dip year) two days before school was due to start. It was a 2 week post as there was still a teacher on the panel who had not decided whether to take the permanent job or not. In October, I was told I had the job for the year and I only started my planning then. (I had just done weekly plans for September).

If there are certain topics/themes that you’d like to cover during the year you could do a quick brainstorm on these so you’ll have them to help you with your planning when September comes. The NCCA planning tool is brilliant – just pop in the keyword (e.g. water) at the bottom and it will give you a list of the strands that you could use in each subject!

The first few days

Building relationships is so important in the first few days. Have a chat with the children, listen to them tell you about themselves, their families, their likes/dislikes, their hobbies and talents, their summer holidays. Tell them about you – your family, your favourite things, things you enjoy and something you did/somewhere you went during the summer – they love to hear about their teacher!

It’s also important to build relationships with the parents. We always go outside early on the first day and usually meet a few of the parents before school starts.

Routines are the most important thing to teach in the first few days. This will save you so much time (and headaches) during the year. Theres a list of classroom procedures which you can download below to get you started! Don’t worry if you spend tons of time on this and little time on teaching subjects – it’s so important to get this right at the beginning of the year!

Getting to know you activities – little games (outside if possible). I often bring the kids outside for ‘extra yard’ for 10-15 minutes. This time is brilliant for observing the children and seeing friendship groups or any issues that might arise on the yard.

I usually do an all about me and mé féin worksheet which is then displayed in the classroom. I also do art self portraits on my favourite things – great way to see what the children really enjoy!

Classroom Management

Think about what strategy/resource you are going to use. Personally, I use Class Dojo which works very well for me. Alternatives might include raffle tickets, group rewards, star chart, golden time etc.

Assessment

I always do some mini assessments during the first week back.

Literacy; writing about your summer holidays. (Great to see who can use capital letters and full stops, exclamation marks, write in chronological order, letter formation, use time words etc.)

Reading; comprehension/ guided reading session in small groups

Maths; tables test – which tables do they need to practice? where to start when learning tables. I also do the summer test from the previous year (usually out of another book) or there is often a beginning of the year assessment too and sometimes I just make my own. Great to see where to start. I then usually do revision for the first week or so.

As part of the ‘assessments’; I usually sit down with a group during art (I do the art too!). This is a great chance to get to know the children a bit better and often they forget that you are there and you can learn so much in a short amount of time.

I also bring the children outside and observe them on the yard. (Who is playing with who? who has no one to play with)

Droichead/Dip

Dip – register with the Limerick Education Centre. This opens during the last week of August and must be submitted within 5 days of starting eligible employment.

Droichead- registration will open during the last week of August on the Teaching Council website.

Blogposts that might help;

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