We have a teacher new to the profession joining the Biology department this year and following the TES “NQT advice” Twitter hashtag on Monday I felt compelled to send her an email. My hope is that it did not come across as patronising, but rather opened the door for a peek into the amazing world of Twitter and the blogosphere that exist to share educational ideas. You just need to search #NQTadvice and a huge variety of suggestions pop up. Additionally blogs detailing similar advice were shared and it was four of these that I sent to my soon to be new colleague. Although some are from a couple of years ago I really like the range of ideas and plain honesty about starting out in such a demanding and rewarding profession.
As our new teacher will be teaching Science I recommended @IanMcDaid’s post Top Tips for Science NQTs for September. With 21 ideas and tips there is plenty to take away, but personally I particularly like tips 12 and 13:
“12. Identify the ‘bags and coats’ space, be consistent in its use.
13. Take advice from techs, years of expertise.”
Certainly tip number 13 is vital advice for any Science teacher no matter their experience; I have said it before but a good technician is worth their weight in gold!
Next up was the excellent advice from @HuntingEnglish with his top ten tips for new teachers. Tip three particularly resonates, “consistency is key” as I think there is often an unrealistic expectation for new teachers to teach whizzy lessons and turn in a bravura performance each and every lesson. As James writes “just be consistent” and you will get a very long way.
Another great blog that I sent across was @MissJLud’s Just keep swimming tips that drills down into the “privileged position” a NQT is in. However, it is also a very honest reflection of the agony as well as the ecstasy. It was interesting to read her thoughts on teaching new material
“When faced with something new and unknown I pick it apart carefully and find myself teaching it in smaller and lighter chunks. These are usually my best lessons as I too have had to approach the topic from an unknown although hopefully with a slightly more able perspective to begin with.”
This is something I have definitely experienced and makes all the hard work in researching a new topic more than worth it.
The last link sent was to @Mr_Bunker_edu’s Getting to know you: Why telling new teachers to ‘build relationships’ is bad advice, which serves as an excellent reminder of what is actually important when meeting classes during the first few weeks of term. His five tips distil exactly how getting the basics right will help a teacher excel. As he states in tip number 1 “Together we’re greater than the sum of our parts” and this equally applies for all of the small things, the nuts and bolts, that go into the daily grind of teaching.
Finally I also tried to convey the idea that there is no expectation to agree with everything that is posted or tweeted. The good thing about reading these things is that whilst one might not agree with all that is written, there are always good ideas interspersed amongst the posts. We are surely all familiar with the echo chamber effect of choosing who we follow based on mutual opinions and values. Additionally these two posts from @NickDennis nicely sum up the potential pitfalls of blogging and tweeting.
PS should you be interested, my own advice was to go to TeachMeets to pick up ideas, reinforcing the magpie-theme of teachers sharing good practice. They are some of the best CPD events and certainly the most cost effective. Coincidentally I can recommend just such a super event: TeachMeet NQT Herts, which is organised by @abbiemann1982 and features some super speakers (and me). Hope to see you there!