Tag Archives: NQT

Resolutions Part II – RQT Version by @Mroberts90Matt

As I sit in school on the 2nd INSET day we have (thank goodness) I browsed back through my posts on Teacher Voice and saw a post created near the start of last year called NQT Resolutions. Not one to miss out on building on something that was successful, I’ve decided to pen the sequel – RQT Resolutions.

It probably gets tiring seeing post after post about ‘resolutions’ at this time of the academic year but resolutions are an important concept in the development of an excellent teacher. Unfortunately this does not mean if you design and implement resolutions you will be an excellent teacher, but I do think it gives you a much better chance at this. In terms of what my resolutions will be, I have looked at my NQT goals for guidance as there is no point to the resolutions made last year if I don’t build on/improve them. Obviously, the RQT Year is a lot different to the NQT Year and my goals will reflect those contrasts. In sharing these, I hope that other RQT’s that have graduated to having an ‘R’ rather than an ‘N’ might get some ideas, find their thoughts confirmed to them or they were not planning to make goals but now decide to do so.

1. Keep my home-work life balanced

Now, if you did take a moment to have a peek at my NQT Resolutions you will have noticed that this resolution is exactly the same as my first NQT resolution, and it may well be the first on my list every year in my career. My family are the most important thing to me. I will certainly not be trading them for a successful career in teaching – I would change jobs before that happened. Obviously it can be done but it will require time management and careful a selection of priorities. I look around at some of the staff in my school who have families of their own and wonder how they can manage to do what they do! Now, at this stage at the precipice of my RQT Year, my wife and I have a 3 year old son and a soon-to-be 1 year old daughter – so it is busy times in the Roberts household! Yet, as long as I keep this goal foremost in mind I know it will be fine – it was last year (if not a little rocky in places)!

2. Get more involved

This leads on from one of my goals last year. As an NQT I got clear advice from many teachers to not volunteer myself for extra responsibilities (and this turned out to be sound advice). However, as I move to being a ‘proper'(ish RQT) teacher, I recognise that I will need to do a little more to support the life of the school. I’ve already volunteered my services for a couple of things so I’ll see how they go but it is something that I think will be beneficial. Today I volunteered my services as a Head of House, for a new House system the new Leadership want to try. It will involve me leading an assembly once a half term, or organise it, and take on more responsibility – looking forward to that! I’ve also volunteered to be a NQT Mentor if needed – I’m very aware I might not have some of the experience needed for that but the request was posted and I thought well, why not make my willingness heard? We’ll see with that one.

3. Lead a Curriculum Area

I guess this one stems from number 2 but I feel it deserves it’s own heading. Obviously with casting off the shell of an NQT I’ll be expected (or at least I WILL want) to take on the responsibility of leading a curriculum. I’ll personally want to make sure this happens to benefit my career progression and development. As far as what curriculum area I don’t know – I think that’s up in the air for now with the new Leadership anyway but we have meetings next week so I’ll hope for what I want to do…

4. Begin a Twitter account for the school

This is a bold new world for our school. We have had a Twitter account but no one has used it yet. Our new Head has used Twitter at his previous school and is keen for it to happen in ours – fantastic! So I would like to try and make that happen more to give the school a more global audience. Also, it will give the children in the school more enthusiasm to show off their learning, so I’ll need to try to gather things from around other classes also!

5. Improve children’s progress in Reading

With being in Year 6 – I can’t help myself looking at results. As a school we had some pretty great things happen – the SPAG was fantastic, Writing was where it should have been, Maths was not as good a last year but better than expected. To be fair, Reading results were excellent too but I feel in my class (and my analysis shows it) some children did not achieve what they could have, despite reaching the national expected level. Therefore, I want to try and develop my teaching of Reading so that my class this year progress better across all abilities. I’m going to be working with the Head of Literacy in Year 6 this year who is brilliant with stimulating reading in her class so I’ll be able to learn from her experience.

Well there you have it – a humble RQT’s resolutions to make their second year of teaching as productive and effective as their first – hopefully a lot more plain sailing too but we all know how this profession works…


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A Word to Newly Qualified Teachers by @Mroberts90Matt


Almost a year ago to this day I published a blog post to New Educational Bloggers and Tweachers giving them tips and things I wished I knew at the start of my time interacting with many of the world’s best educators. Now, I have come to end of the first year of my career in teaching. I am officially no longer an NQT. It has certainly been the hardest life of my year. This was because of a number of things in my personal life as well as professional life but all these events have caused me to think about what I wished I knew at the start of this year to make it even more effective.

As with the post last year, this will not be an exhaustive list of things NQT’s need to know (ideas from others would be much appreciated), but these are ideas that I wish I had known or had made sure I remembered that would make my NQT year a bit easier.


Things I wish I knew

1. Start as you mean to go on…and then go on!

I found it easy to start strong with a focus on learning and firm but fair behaviour management. However, I quickly realised it was all to easy to let that slip. In the hustle and bustle of day to day teaching and learning, it can become easy to let small things (or as Ofsted have called it recently ‘low-level disruption’) slide as at the time it seems tedious to have to deal with. However, if low level disruption is not dealt with every time, learning will be disrupted further down the line. Therefore, it will be vital to make sure that does not change.

However, I learnt that this point does not apply just to behaviour management. When I started in September I had a number of what I felt (and what turned out to be) engaging teaching and learning strategies. However, when I reach November, those same strategies did not produce the same level of engagement and learning potential. It is important to start searching out and implementing engaging teaching strategies but it is then still important to keep up with searching and implementing new teaching strategies (another reason why Twitter is such a valuable CPD tool). It is not as easy as it sounds, but will make the ride in the classroom easier for you and the students you teach.

2. Things will work out – just do what you know to do

Sometimes the tasks that you have in front of you can seem overwhelming – educating a class of 30+ children and ensuring that they make progress in a number of subject areas is just the start! Of course, I personally had to deal with the SATs, a residential trip and other things. As a result (understandably) I got a little worked up over a few things. However, I wish I knew this fact – as long as I continue doing what I was trained to do (provide quality first teaching) then things will eventually come through. Take each step at a time and you will pull through with good results. I found things didn’t go so well when I got myself worked up about the large task at hand and lost the focus on what I needed to do there and then. Not easy to do but worth it.

3. Seek advice from others

Wherever you begin your employment as a teacher, you will be working with other members of staff. That is a constant variable which you can rely on. As such, you will meet many different characters and styles amongst the teaching staff. One thing I wish I knew was how willing many teachers are to help out. I think that, as a profession, we are increasingly being pressured from many sides, we recognise that when we can support one of our own it will be greatly appreciated. Of course, not all teachers will be as willing to help out, but you will very quickly learn who to ask for what kind of support. That support could be a life saver for you – and of course it is a requirement in the Teachers Standards.

So, do actively take the time to seek support or even just opinions from others. As a got further into my NQT Year I found that the afternoons I’d be in school would be spent less on marking (partly because I had gotten used to balancing the practice out and more efficient, as well as SATs prep reducing the amount of marking in books) and more on discussions with other members of staff. These moments were really helpful and I was left kicking myself at how I hadn’t done that sooner. As this went on I found that not only was I receiving more support but other members of staff started to come to me for advice and support. I was able to have a number of interesting opportunities for dialogue with the Maths Coordinator and she began to share pieces of learning from her class and asked me what I would have done a little differently. I found these exchanges to be really thought-provoking and it also improved my practice. You must do this!

4. Use the holidays well

..By this I do not mean spend every moment planning, assessing, evaluating schemes of work. In fact, quite the opposite. I managed to pass my NQT year with doingh (a bit) less at the holidays than I thought I would have to. You must use these times off effectively, yes get done any pressing work that needs to be done, but also take the chance to RELAX. My wife and I went away without the kids for a few days at the May Half Term (between the SATs and a residential trip and end-of-year production). I’m sure if I didn’t get that real little break in between I would have had a mental breakdown having to coordinate moody Year 6’s to perform after being tested the most they had in their lives.

(I also got my reports done in those holidays – only an hour or so a day spread out but it worked. I actually was one of the few that got my reports in a couple of days before the deadline – it can be done!)

5. Never let work overtake home life

This final but simple point does kind of link in to the previous. Hopefully your school is led by human beings who appreciate you have a life outside the workplace. I guess I’m in an unusual position to other NQT’s but during the year my wife and I had our second child and that child ended up in hospital for a week with bronchiolitis. They nearly lost her in the ambulance…My school were an amazing support. They never questioned the fact I had to be there with our little daughter, there was never a tough question as to when I’d be able to get back in and when I returned after the horrendous week everyone was eager to find out how she was doing. It would have easy to say I couldn’t afford the time to miss much work and not been there for my wife, daughter and poor 2 year old son who was confused why everyone was so worried and absent despite explaining what we could to him. It would have been wrong too. Never let what goes on at work impact on home life (again, much easier said than done and I often didn’t follow this advice) and then the things at work will fall into place.

Your thoughts

I would love it if any other recently passed NQT’s have any more pieces of advice to give to upcoming NQT’s. It would also be marvellous for this article to get to upcoming NQTs as most probably don’t read educational blogs or Tweet as a Teacher. What advice do you wish you knew before your NQT year?

Teacher Voice Weekly Poll w/b 22nd September 2014

Well, now is the time for another Teacher Voice Weekly Poll. Last time, the question was focused on group sizes used in the classroom. I don’t know if this was a less popular question or if it’s simply because I’ve not had the time to promote it but there were not as many voices heard as normal. However, the result was clear – 100% of the votes said that 4-5 children was the most popular group size. Why do you think that is? Does it provide the most opportunity for key language to be discussed among all learners? Is it simply the easiest group size to have logistically?
This week I’ve gone with this question on behaviour management. The context of this comes from an NQT Conference I attended today which I will hopefully blog about later. It raised a few questions for me from my Twitter experience as well as I have linked with different types of professionals who will have differing yet equally valuable views:

Which of these pillars of behaviour management is the most important in your view? Is there another that’s not mentioned which is more important? Of course, I’m sure we’d say that all are necessary but which do you feel has the most impact?

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NQT Resolutions by @Mroberts90Matt

So, as I come to the end of my 3rd week as a ‘real’ teacher, I finally got some time to read some blog posts which I haven’t done for a while. I saw this post by another NQT which sets out some resolutions for their NQT year. I thought this idea was excellent and so, decided to join in and create my own. The reason being that in reading their resolutions, I felt the desire to meet those resolutions too as they are really good. So my reasons are twofold – one, foot my own record and target setting and two, if any other NQT comes across this them hopefully it’ll inspire them to do some too!
1. Keep my home-work life balanced
I am convinced that if I do this all year then all things will eventually fall into place. My wife and son have been great supports and inspirations to me during my Initial Teacher Training years and they will be so for years to come. We are expecting our second child mid-October so, whilst it certainly won’t get easier, this goal will be vital for my performance at work to be at its best and my health 😉

2. Keep on top of marking
With all the things I will need to get done as an NQT, the one that has been a bug bear with me in the past is marking children’s books. In my view it is one of the things that, if not done right, can be the biggest waste of a teacher’s time. So, of course, to do it right requires a bit more care, effort and (you guessed it) time! Fortunately I’ve found, and been authorised to use, a method which was brought to my attention in a series of excellent summer blog posts by @LearningSpy who referenced it to Joe Kirby’s blog (sharing good practice or what)! Basically on Friday I marked a set of 30 Maths books in 20 mins – and I have a feeling that it will have a greater impact on them than a couple of short, quickly put down comments from me ever would. Take a look!

3. Don’t get TOO involved
For my specialism at University I took Computing. It was actually a choice that I was forced into, but I am so glad I did! I probably would not be blogging/tweeting as a teacher if I did not! However, at my school it is common knowledge that no one knows about Computing…sure, great for my future prospects but not this year please! I’ve already been assured by my Head that I will not be asked to take an further responsibilities (this year), but there is an RQT who has taken the responsibility. She has already asked if I would want to work with her on a Computing Club she’s started. A few months ago I might have said yes. However, after sage advice and experience of full time teaching, I declined. I may well take the offer up MUCH later in the year but as an NQT, I know I need to focus on getting things as right as I can in my classroom before committing to wider responsibilities.

4. Keep up my blog, professional and class
I’ve not been doing so well on this one, but only 2 and a bit weeks since my last post isn’t too bad, right? I am aiming to post once a week still on my blog and (hopefully) keep up my Teacher Voice Weekly Polls but I’ll see how that goes. If you get the chance take a look and vote, I’d really appreciate it.

5. Have Fun!
I am in this for the long haul. I do not want to become a burnt out, fatigued teacher but a vibrant, inspirational educator. It will not be easy, I know. Just because I have got through my first few weeks as an NQT unscathed and, honestly, feeling confident does not mean it will be all smooth sailing. I have my first lesson observation on Thursday…feeling a bit nervous! However, as I remember to enjoy the career, hopefully I’ll be able to accomplish this resolution!

There will probably be more thoughts as I plod along, however, if I can keep these things going in my NQT Year, I’ll be satisfied. Anything more, such in sure there will be, it’s going to be a great year!
photo credit: Nina Matthews Photography via photopin cc

photo credit: Homes and Dreams via photopin cc

Collaboration is Key by @Mroberts90Matt


This week I had the opportunity to go into the school I have been fortunate enough to be given full-time employment by in September. It was an extremely gratifying experience walking through the halls with the Head of Key Stage not constantly worried about what impression I was giving in case it affected my chances of securing employment. Of course I was still on my best behaviour! It was at this stage I was informed (although I had been warned that this may be the case) that I would be teaching in Year 6 for my NQT year. As I said when the Head first mentioned this to be I would be ‘understandably anxious but willing to take on the challenge’. Now that the decision had been officially made, a bit more anxiousness crept in.

I was able to meet the other Year 6 teacher, with whom I would be working during the next academic year. At this point I came to a vital recognition – this would be the first two-form entry school that I would ever had worked in, including placements! I had never had the experience of having a colleague who would be working with the very same year group as I would be. We had some time to chat and they gave me some plans from the current year to give me an idea on what had been done this year and may be good to do some searching on.

As the conversation unfolded, I remembered a comment made by the Head of Key Stage before I met with the Year 6 teacher – that the current Year 6 teachers did not get on so the Year 6 Leavers Play would be split into two different plays rather than the joint production that was normally produced. The Year 6 teacher I’d be working with also commented on how she was looking forward to the next academic year and how ‘It will be nice to have a good year…’

Thoughts and Discussion

This all highlighted something to me that is absolutely vital, particularly between common year group teachers – collaboration is key. I cannot express how relieved I was (particularly after the revelation I would definitely be teaching Year 6 for my NQT year) to hear that not only would there be another Year 6 teacher but also they were almost anxious to collaborate on the curriculum that would be delivered. Phillips (2013) is just one researcher who found that collaborative practice was much more effective than ‘going it alone’. It is clear to see in the teaching arena today the push towards a tighter, closer-knit community which shares good practice and develops one another’s skills and knowledge. The increasingly popular TeachMeets are just one example of this trend, as well as the trending outlet for teaching professionals to share views, ideas and opinions on Twitter.

What does your collaboration look like?
What does your collaboration look                                like?

To me it makes total sense. I could not imagine working in a school where there is a colleague working with the same year group and we do not share ideas or things that have worked with our class. Now of course, every class is different. Collaboration may lead to things being put into practice that may not work for your own class. I imagine as well there are times where personalities, or teaching styles simply clash. If teaching styles do clash would it be better for collaboration to be forced for the sake of collaboration, or would in this instance would it be better for the practitioners to go it alone? I personally would think that whatever encourages the teacher to teach in the way that they feel most confident in should be the route chosen. In some cases, that may well be to not collaborate – however, I think this may be a minority.


So, what am I to do as a result of this ramble? It will be imperative for me to use this fantastic opportunity to learn from a more experienced professional whilst also offering my thoughts and expertise where I can. I remember a presentation of a group paper given at University where the group spoke of being an NQT like they were a trainee among masters who had no knowledge or whose lack of experience would constantly be a burden. While this may be true to a degree, NQT’s should also take courage in the fact that they are, in fact, teachers and have something to give to a collaborative, professional environment.

What is the learning community like among your staff in your school? Is the staff group open and do they desire, even crave, opportunities to share excellent practice, not just between common year group classes but across the whole school? Is your teaching collective more reserved and keep the learning that goes on in their classrooms (figuratively) within the walls of that classroom? How can we encourage teachers, at whatever stage they are at, to share more, collaborate more and improve each other, as well as themselves?


Reference List

Phillips, L. (2013) Knowledge and power in collaborative research: a reflexive approach. Routledge: Oxon.

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Reflections on Go Karting

This post is mainly for sounding out my thoughts but  you’re all welcome to listen in!

So last night I had the opportunity for a late joint birthday treat to go Go Karting with my Dad, uncle and brother. Was a great experience, by the end we were zipping along and it felt like we were racing in the F1…which of course we were right?

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Anyway, racing ability aside, I starting to think about the experience in it’s entirety. On the first couple of laps around we certainly weren’t speeding down as if we were on Silverstone. We had to get used to the power of the vehicle, the handling of the kart, the turn in the circuit and the places to take it steady and to floor it! As I was thinking about that, I couldn’t help but link it with my upcoming experience as an NQT starting out in a school.


I’ll need to be aware that there are going to be bumps in the road (which there was in one certain part of the track – very uncomfortable that part)! There will be times that I will need to know the turns and speeds of those turns to make to make my practice effective and manageable to become a part of my life – as teaching I’m quickly learning is not a job, but for me a lifestyle. It is a lifestyle that can be intense but immensely rewarding. After time (I hope), I will become more proficient at navigating the circuit of school life and powering through the track of a teacher.


Does that mean once I’ve finished my NQT year I’ll be perfect – of course not. After 5 years? Probably less so! Because I’ll recognise just how much I have to learn. As with the Go Karting – after becoming confident we still made mistakes, an oversteer here, a swerve there (which I didn’t do I might add).


However, just as with the Go Karting, it will be an exhilarating, adrenaline-fuelled ride!