Supporting NQTs as a non-mentor

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Do you remember your NQT year - that knee-knocking feeling of arriving in a school, either having changed roles from trainee to teacher, or as a brand new addition to the staff? For the new teachers entering the profession, that feeling hasn’t changed - in fact, you’d probably be surprised by how little the questions, anxieties and worries vary from the ones you had yourself! Equally, if you are a non-teaching member of staff, you will have experienced many of the queries of the NQT when starting your new role. Bearing this in mind, you have a huge amount of experience, advice and support to share that could make a huge difference to the NQT in your school. Here are some ideas of ways that you can support them as they complete their induction year, even if you are not a mentor:

  • Smile at them, introduce yourself and ask them about themselves. 

  • Invite them to sit with you in the staffroom (and help them to navigate that paralyzing fear of sitting in some old timer’s seat!)

  • Include them in social events and keep asking even if at first they decline. When they are ready and find an event that suits them they will join in, and subsequently feel like they are an important part of the school community. 

  • Keep smiling at them. 

  • Notice their struggles - are they buried under bags of books every night? Help them make a marking schedule. Are they always looking drained after a particular class? Talk it through with them. Do they seem changed or diminished? Check in with them and see if something in their personal life has gone awry. 

  • Offer to make them a coffee when you make yours. 

  • Show them how to use the photocopier. 

  • Spot them in the corridor? Smile.

  • Ask them for the exciting new ideas they gained at university and on their previous placements. You may massively benefit from what they tell you too!

  • Check in on them after their first parents’ evening and ask how it went. That first one is nerve-wracking, remember?

  • Advise them about who to see for examples of outstanding practice. 

  • If you are non-teaching, tell them what you do. They might need to see you or ask for your help later on and will feel so much better if they already know who you are. 

  • Leave a little note in their pigeon hole telling them they are doing a great job.

  • If they are new to the area, tell them a few great places to eat, relax or be active. 

  • Remind them that everyone in a classroom at your school has come through their NQT year and that it does get easier. 

  • And finally, please, if you see the NQTs anywhere around the school, whatever they are doing and whatever expression they may have on their face - just smile at them.

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