Your first day as a fully qualified teacher, with your very own class of children may seem very daunting. It will be a whirlwind of a day and you probably won’t remember what happened on the first day, a few weeks later. So, how can you start your NQT year on the right foot and transition from a trainee teacher to an NQT?
My first piece of advice for your first transition as class teacher would be to ensure you have an idea of what routines you want to implement within the first week. I usually start by creating a class charter or class rules which all the children come up with and agree to. Allowing the children to think of these ideas will encourage them to follow each rule accurately and consistently. Next, think about what routines you should implement: setting up for the day, packing away after lessons, before and after lunch preparation and end of the day procedures. Your school may already have policies for this, or ways that they like things to be done, but if not, you can totally cater these to your own likes and dislikes. Getting 30 children to pack away for the end of the day may sound easy, but I find it to be more like chaos when the children don’t have a set routine to follow. For the first week, I would pack away slightly earlier to make sure you can explain the expectations and walk through how things should be done. Then when the children are familiar with this, they will be able to do it quicker each time.
Establish some rules and boundaries for things like when can they go to the toilet and when they can have drinks. I tend to tell my children that they can go to the bathroom when I’m allowed to go – before school, break, lunch and after school. Make sure that you are consistent with this and stick by what you say. Also ensure other adults in your room are aware of the expectations as children will quickly realise that they can ask a second adult who may let them go. You will quickly realise which children are serious about their needs and those who are looking to get out of class. Once you are aware of this, you can adapt any rules in place to cater to the needs of all children.
My next piece of advice would be to get to know your class. Take the time to speak to each child individually and learn something new about them. This way, you can tailor lessons and rewards to suit the likes of every child. Rewards are a huge thing for all children of all ages, and it is important to give children positive praise to help motivate them and build their self-esteem. Once you know your class and they have settled in, you can start to implement a reward system. Reward systems can be for individual children or for group work, encouraging co-operation. Make sure your reward system fits with the school behaviour policy as well. Choose a system that the children will respond well to and that can be easily implemented with little disruption to learning. Also allow other adults in your class to praise children and use the behaviour system.
It can be very daunting transitioning from being a trainee, where you have the safety blanket of a mentor, to the official class teacher. My final piece of advice is to focus on the class and their learning first. It can be very overwhelming to feel the pressure of being the perfect teacher with the perfect classroom, when really this is not necessary. Everything will fall into place throughout the first half term. Your classroom will always be changing to keep up with ever-changing policies and learning topics so do not focus on the small, finer details of perfection but rather the bigger picture of learning. Secure a well-structured routine with the children in mutual respect and focus on teaching your children, not performing to others.
Enjoy the first step in your new, amazing and fulfilling career as a teacher!