• Nicky

10 tips for computing NQTs who are joining a new school

You have landed your first teaching job. Excellent, that is fantastic and you should feel rightly proud of what you have achieved. It is an exciting time for you but for some it can also feel very daunting. The excitement of becoming an NQT has slowly been taken over by the realisation that you will have less support than during your training and to top things off you also have to get used to a new school and all its individual quirks and peculiarities.

You have a couple of weeks to go before the start of the new academic year and it is worth planning ahead and also spending a few days in the school getting to know your new surroundings before the year really starts, to soften what can be an overwhelming experience. Our ten top tips can help computing NQTs who are preparing for their first teaching role in a new school.

1) Get to know the school rules

Ask for a copy of the official handbook, if they have one, and school policies or find out where they are located so you can obtain a copy yourself as early as you can. The next step is just as important but many people seem to forget. Once you have a copy of the handbook and policies, read them. Make sure you pay close attention to things such as attendance, homework, marking and discipline policies so you know what the school expects from you.

Make sure you know contact details and procedures in case of illness and what you should do for fire drills such as where to meet and what you should be doing.

Know the timetable of the school day and print it out, write it in your planner and enter it on your phone so you have a copy in several places.

Also find out about the photocopier procedures. Some schools allow you to make your own copies and you may or may not need a code for this, but other schools expect you to submit requests to a member of staff who will make the copies for you. Do not leave your photocopying until the last minute as you may find you run out of time and will not have those essential handouts you expected for your first lesson.

2) Get to know your school layout

Most schools are open for staff at certain times during the summer holidays. Building work has generally tailed off by the end of the summer holidays so the last couple of weeks is often the best time to try to get in the school if you can. If you are unsure if your school is open contact your head of department or you could email or ring the school to ask but be prepared that they may not answer immediately so don’t leave this until the day you want to turn up.

Once you know the school is open, travel using your usual method so you can become familiar with the route you will be taking and the parking or transport links you will need.

Have a wander around the school. Find out about the different entrances, where the pupils will be during break times and lunchtimes, find the nearest toilets to your classroom for both pupils and staff and also find the main staff room, your department’s staff room (if they have one) and the photocopier room. You will also need to find your classroom(s), tutor room and the best route to walk your students to the main hall for assemblies and the nearest exits for when the fire alarm sounds.

Also find out where you are expected to go for break times, lunchtimes and staff meetings and walk the route from your classroom to these key places so you become familiar with the layout of the school. It is also worthwhile finding out where other areas of the school are such as the English, maths, science and arts block, library, sports halls etc so you can help pupils if they are lost.

It is worthwhile obtaining a copy of the map of the school if they have one and sticking it in your planner or taking a photograph of it on your phone until you are familiar with the school layout. Try to get to know the whole school rather than just your little bit but don’t worry, you don’t need to know it all by September, just try to explore a little bit more each week until you feel secure in your surroundings.

3) Prepare your classroom

Computer rooms are not as flexible as other teaching rooms so you may not have much of an opportunity to alter the layout of the furniture but you may be able to make some small changes if you need to.

Make sure any alterations you do make are safe and will leave no training cables, objects to bump into or blocked doorways.

Think about how you will use the room as that might have an influence on your lesson planning. Is there a central table for the pupils to work around? Can you see all the monitors or are there blind spots you will need to keep an eye on? Where will pupils bags and coats go? Can pupils work in pairs and small groups easily or does the room layout make this more difficult?

Draw a sketch of the room, noting where the computers and seating is so you can use it later to draw an accurate seating plan.