It can be difficult for any school to find new teachers that are qualified for their post. However, the hardest part is making sure that qualified teachers succeed in their career!
The good news is that you don’t have to cross your fingers and hope they succeed. Instead, there are a few easy steps that you and your establishment can take to help make them more successful, both now and in the future.
It Takes a Village
You’re probably familiar with the African proverb that claims “it takes a village to raise a child.” But did you know this same logic applies to your newly-qualified teachers?
Many schools make the rookie mistake of only assigning one person to help the NQT teacher. And while a mentor is a valuable part of the process (more on this below), your new teachers require an entire support system to help them succeed.
For example, the teacher should have an initial “tutor” to help them with the most basic questions. This is separate from their mentor who helps them to improve their pedagogy and teaching methodology. And your new teachers can even be paired with a veteran teacher who teaches a different subject. This gives them a chance to practice cross-curricular teaching and also observe how someone else manages their classroom. As a teacher, I think we can all benefit more from working with other subject areas more closely.
Business and Pleasure
A straightforward question defines how most people view their career: “are you living to work or working to live?”
What that question is asking is how passionate someone is about their job. If they are “living to work,” they are excited and energised. If they are “working to live,” they are merely collecting a paycheck and going home.
New teachers tend to be naturally passionate and energetic. To keep that energy going, make sure you offer “after hours” opportunities to socialise. This may include heading to the pub every Friday night or departments taking turns and hosting parties.
Ultimately, your goal here is to create the vibe that these aren’t just fellow teachers: they are family. And this kind of emotional support is just as important to NQTs in the long-term as tutors and mentors are in the short-term.
One of our most significant recommendations is to prepare a “welcome pack” for new teachers. The purpose of such a pack is to answer as many of their questions as possible before they even ask.
Such a pack may include relevant contact information as well as an organisational chart. It should also include a map of the school and any critical requirements of their day-to-day responsibilities.
The new teachers will still have questions after getting the pack, and tutors and mentors can help answer those questions. But providing the pack early on gives them a sense of comfort from knowing that they already have many of the answers they will need.
Of course, any welcome information should not be a “fire and forget” method of inducting new teachers. It’s essential to provide ongoing support in the form of weekly “one-on-one” meetings with new teachers. This intimate and informal meeting format encourages them to ask questions that they might otherwise hold back in a larger meeting, all while allowing a mentor to gauge the new teacher’s progress.
As teachers, we understand that our students’ education is only as good as the teachers they have. Keep in mind that it’s no different for your new teachers!
With faculty mentors, you shouldn’t just assume the veteran teacher knows what to do. Being able to teach their students doesn’t guarantee they will be a reliable mentor to a new teacher.
That’s why each school should invest heavily in its mentors. Offer special training sessions for these mentors. Ideally, such sessions should be led by veteran faculty mentors who can share the collective wisdom they have learned (and what mistakes to avoid).
Meet with your mentors one-on-one at the end of each term and discuss the progress of the new teacher. This gives you both an opportunity to “course correct” and make any necessary changes to someone’s mentoring process.
Focus On Professional Development
Make no mistake: nobody needs professional development more than your newly-qualified teachers.
So long as it’s within your budget, buy your NQTs professional development books and journal subscriptions that help them stay up-to-date with current pedagogical and scholarly developments. And try to hold regular PD events each term that help teachers (new and old alike) grow as educators.
While the PD is always useful, the simple fact that you offer it will be reassuring to the new teacher. It helps remind them of a simple lesson for success: there is always more to learn!
How to Ensure Newly Qualified Teachers Succeed