Reflections from an NQT*

I’ve had the privilege of working with a growing number of NQTs (*newly qualified teacher) recently – some of this work is by way of very informal conversations and some is through a more formal coaching arrangement. Either way, I enjoy helping these early career teachers as they search for their place in the world and I’m humbled at the impact deep listening and curiosity can have. Here, I reproduce a blog written by NQT Claire for her school community following our most recent conversation…


“It’s not often, if at all, that I feel I have the time to reflect on my teaching journey.  I am far too involved in the here and now, the daily demands of teaching and the need to catch up on sleep!  Yet, I realise that this is exactly what teachers need to be doing and is especially valuable for early career teachers like myself.

Prior to teacher training, I administered the PGCE courses within a university setting.  Whilst there, I was lucky to work with Liz Taplin, Associate Professor, Senior Lecturer in Primary Physical Education and a former PGCE Primary Programme Leader.

When I took the life-changing decision to leave the university to begin teacher-training, Liz and I kept in touch.  Liz had already begun to step back from her roles at the university so she could embark on a life-changing journey of her own, setting herself up as a Life Coach.

I have only been able to see Liz a handful of times since starting my PGCE in 2019.  The Covid pandemic made it very difficult to complete my studies and start my NQT Year, let alone meet up with anyone!  So, I was very glad to finally be able to catch up with her again during the Easter break.

We talked about a great many things but teachers will always talk about teaching!  And so, I let her know how things were going for me as an NQT: the difficulties, exhaustion, doubts and occasional wins.  We talked through lesson scenarios, behaviour management issues, effective feedback and how best to meet the needs of all students. (Nothing much)!!

I was very focused on what I had been doing in this last term and how many things I need to learn or hone and improve.  It was Liz who listened to all this and reminded me just how far I had come.  My teaching journey is always there, in the back of my mind, but that is where it generally stays, never taking centre stage.  Far too many other things are usually vying for my attention!

So, for the first time (in a long time) I was able to step back and recognise that I had just come through one of the most difficult years ever, to train to be a teacher.  I realised how much courage it had taken to step out of my comfort zone almost every day, how much resilience I had developed, how much I had learned about myself, and how much I had been able to improve my teaching practice.  I could see the path that had brought me here.

Being able to reflect on our teaching journey is so valuable because it helps us to confirm just how far we have progressed and developed over time.  And, if we have someone with experience of teaching, who can help to facilitate that reflection, it makes the process that much more powerful.

We always try to set the scene for students in our lessons, letting them know where they have come from and where they are going.  Giving them a sense of purpose in their learning which enables them to become invested in their learning journey.

Yet, how often do we do this for ourselves?  Taking time to reflect on our teaching journey is vital to help us set our ‘professional compass’: it allows us to see the path ahead and focus properly on where our journey should take us next.

So, my best moment in this week and fortnight, and indeed whole term, has been meeting with Liz – reaffirming my commitment to my teaching.  I came away from our meeting with such a warm glow of positivity, with renewed confidence and the feeling that I may yet make a half decent teacher!”

Photo credit: Dan Botan / Unsplash

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