Induction can be a scary time for newly qualified teachers (NQTs), and a challenging one for those steering them through it. This issue of CPD week gives CPD coordinators advice and ideas on how to give NQTs the most effective early training possible to help them with the rest of their careers

Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there.
Will Rogers

Introduction

It’s that time of year again, when a new generation of teachers embarks on induction, and what might arguably be one of the toughest years of their career. As a CPD coordinator, helping these colleagues to get through their induction isn’t easy – but with this week’s practical ideas on how to go about it, you can approach the challenge with fresh ideas and perhaps even a refreshed attitude!

Practical tips

Getting induction right for NQTs in your school is a major responsibility. Not only is it essential for the NQTs themselves, but it’s also vitally important for the institution as a whole to have its new entrants guided and nurtured effectively through their early development as a teacher.

Knowing what the regulations say and jumping the hurdles set out by the demands of legislation is just a part of the story. The greater challenge is for those responsible for the professional and personal progress of NQTs to devise targeted and personalised ways of lifting induction off the pages of the statutory guidance, in a way which will shift NQTs from each stage to the next in their early professional development. It’s not simply about doing the minimum to get them through – it’s about inspiration and change, and, in particular, new and consolidated learning. In that respect, being an induction tutor is actually a far more creative role than we often give it credit for, and should be steered by some of the profession’s most dynamic and progressive leaders. If we use induction to set the scene for professional development that is linked in to actual change in the classroom, then we can’t fail to create, over time, a workforce which is committed to quality; unafraid to break away from anything that might hinder the pursuit of excellence for its children. Sounds idealistic? It’s meant to!

If you want to make sure that induction is as inspirational, supportive and challenging as it can be, then these practical tips will help:

  • Induction is an opportunity for NQTs to demonstrate their understanding. A great way of getting a feel for what this actually means is to identify for yourself something that you understand. Most people will come up with something that they know, or a skill that they can do, but pinpointing understanding is a whole lot more difficult. Keep this in mind the next time you ask a pupil or colleague if they understand something! It’s well worth enabling NQTs to be in the ‘learner’ role.
  • In order to demonstrate understanding, NQTs will need the opportunity to do activities which you can assess. Do you take this approach to induction? Is your assessment criteria based on the Core Standards and do you have a way of determining the extent to which an NQT is deemed to have achieved them?
  • Linked to the notion of knowledge, ability, and understanding is the concept of attitude. Use mentoring sessions to assist NQTs in determining, and transforming if necessary, underlying attitudes. In practice, this means looking at their belief systems and how they relate to their work as a teacher. This is perhaps not an immediately obvious dimension of induction if you’re sticking rigidly to the statutory guidance, but it is an important one if you want to see demonstrable (and ultimately measurable) progress.
  • One of the best ways in which we learn is through making connections. Help NQTs to achieve this: in particular between the transition points of the Career Entry and Development Profile, and also between prior learning and current needs determined by classroom experience.
  • There are key down-times through the course of induction – most notably around the October and February half terms. While the degree to which your NQTs are able to self-motivate will be instrumental in navigating these trickier times, it’s especially important during this time to devise inspirational strategies to get them to approach their work with expectancy – secure in the knowledge that they will be able to deal with the uncertainty that teaching involves. Many schools find that these are the times to help NQTs re-focus on relationship building; with themselves, with their pupils, with colleagues and parents. When there are many challenges to face, focusing on soft skills which can bolster classroom performance is potentially the most supportive course of action.
  • As an induction tutor/professional learning leader, you will expect NQTs to engage in reflective practice. One of the most effective ways of encouraging this is for them to see that this way of working is embedded throughout every tier of your school. At the very least, be open to sharing your habits of reflection with your NQTs.

Find out more…

This e-bulletin issue was first published in September 2008

About the author: Elizabeth Holmes qualified as a teacher at the Institute of Education, London and is the author of several books specialising in the areas of professional development and teacher well-being.

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