NQT Inspirations

SSAT Director Angelina Idun reviews highlights from the launch of SSAT NQT Inspirations which welcomed new teachers to the profession and looks forward to working with others to support NQTs.

When I talk to friends and family about my role at SSAT I often talk about what a privilege it is to be able to connect with, collaborate with and support so many different aspects of the work of the teachers, school and system leaders and students in our network. This week we were joined by over 100 newly qualified teachers, the mentors and senior leaders tasked with nurturing NQTs through this important year, longstanding friends and special guests for the launch event of the SSAT NQT Inspirations online series. There was nothing remote about the virtual space we found ourselves in and the session brought home again how much more we can achieve for ourselves, our colleagues and ultimately for our children when we work together, sharing experience, and practice and joining forces to find solutions to the challenges we face. As the African proverb says:

If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.

The highlights of the session included the thought-provoking, inspirational contributions from Dame Alison Peacock, Chief Executive of the College of Teaching and Abby Bayford, Director of People Development at the Academy Transformation Trust. Although this was a session designed for those new to the profession there was much for the more experienced practitioners joining the webinar to take away as well.

Alison lifted spirits with 10 reasons to be cheerful about being an NQT a list of short prompts that it would be helpful to anyone to revisit when we need to remember why we are doing what we do, in difficult times, even at the start and/or end of any school day. Alison also shared personal challenges experienced in her first year of teaching which helped our audience consider the importance of building relationships with all our children and the precious, priceless moments that make it all worthwhile. Citing a quote used by Professor Tim Brighouse from Haim Ginott (1972) Alison reminded those gathered about the powerful influence teachers have on children:

“I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher I possess tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous, I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration….”

Abby Bayford’s input was full of practical, well-grounded tips for new teachers to apply in their classrooms and their wider school communities. Emphasising to new teachers that they are not alone, Abby shared insights from some retrospective, reflective blog pieces written by colleagues known as “Letters to my NQT self.” Abby echoed Alison’s thoughts on building relationships with children and went on to talk about ways in which the new teachers can develop relationships with staff across the school. Giving invaluable guidance on how to navigate the fact that “everyone has an opinion on teaching”, Abby impressed on the group the need to listen for empowering advice rather than those often voiced phrases that do not serve our children well and risk “putting a lid on their jar.” Abby’s final words had resonance with Alison’s:

“Don’t underestimate the power you have to transform lives.”

Both guests signposted the work of the Chartered College of Teaching a national organisation which gives teachers the knowledge and confidence to make the best decisions for their pupils.

There were more recorded anecdotes, insights and reflections from SSAT staff and colleagues in the network at different points on the pathway our new teachers are starting out on. Key points from these included learning to be yourself; asking for help when you need it; drawing on the support of mentors, your teams and networks beyond the school; and the fact that each day brings a new learning opportunity for all teachers and leaders.

If you are reading this and have an NQT in your school who wasn’t able to attend the launch event do pass this piece on to them and bring their attention to the recording of the webinar which they can watch or review in their own time. The webinar also gives an overview, dates and times for the online SSAT NQT Inspirations series and you can get your NQTs signed up for this year’s programme here.

There is no doubt about it, new teachers are joining the profession at an extraordinary time, and as all our contributors agreed it will be a year of both challenge and immense reward. The SSAT team, our members, the Chartered College and other supporters are united in our commitment to being there for everyone new to the profession and to letting them know how valued their presence in our schools and classrooms is. We are looking forward to being part of the NQTs journey well beyond this year and working with others to help them go far.

If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.

SSAT members can watch the NQT Inspirations launch seminar: Surviving and thriving in your NQT year

Further reading and resources for your NQTs:

The Chartered College Early Careers Hub

Abby Bayford – Oberon-King of the fairies, A letter to my NQT self

Surviving and succeeding in the first year of teaching, Geoff Barton, Alex Galvin and Julian Metcalf – Available to members from the SSAT Library

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