The NQT’s Guide to Growing a Stand-out Teaching Career

By Horizon Teachers

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When you first decided to become a teacher, you had a reason.

There was an idea in your mind’s eye of what the life of a teacher would feel like that was so compelling, you decided to place your efforts into a career that impacts every aspect of the human experience. We all learn. We all experience pinnacles and valleys of emotions. We all interact with people who live their lives in different ways than ours.

As an NQT, you are about to embark on a roller coaster that will bring you through all of that, every week.

Some weeks, you’ll go through the entire emotional spectrum and then, just when you need it, you’ll see that “aha” moment appear in a pupil’s eyes. That look will bring a tiring day up to a powerful moment of pride and unparalleled sense of accomplishment.

Before you get to those moments, however, there are a few things that you’ll need to do as an NQT in order to prepare and grow your teaching career.

Here are 3 tips to help you along your way, whether you are searching for your first teaching job or are looking for ways to grow in your current role. 

 

1. Create a learning environment that is compatible with your work environment

 

During your search

When we think of our learning and work environments, the first image that comes to mind is typically of a classroom, an office, your favourite seat on the couch to do your marking...

However, in today's digital world, there are work and learning environments that can be just as useful online as they would be as physical locations. LinkedIn is one of those places. 

Join LinkedIn to get involved in the discussions within Education. You can comment on articles that you find interesting via LinkedIn Pulse, contribute to the discussions in relevant LinkedIn Groups, and connect with mentors by sending them a personal invite that tells them a bit about who you are and why you’d like to connect. 

Doing this will help you develop your knowledge as a teacher by widening your perspective and establishing your presence within the social circles that matter the most to your career.

 

On the job

Your classroom isn’t only your students’ learning environment; it’s yours, too. For at least 9 hours each day, that room is the place where you’ll learn and develop your skills as a teacher.

Think about the little things, such as how you’d like students to hand in work. Is there a way that would be organized and quicker to collect than walking around to each desk? Thinking about these things early on could save you hours each week.

 

2. Begin a blog

 

During your search

Writing a blog is a great way to showcase your knowledge and passion to prospective employers. Before you land your first teaching position, you may struggle for ideas or aren’t sure of what to write about.

Take a look at the latest headlines on education and popular teacher blogs. Are there any topics or recent events that you’d like to share your perspective on? What excites you about becoming a teacher? Why did you choose the profession? Is there a teacher who taught you lessons that you are planning on adapting to your own classroom?

Think about the subject matter that you plan on teaching. What are the “hot topics” or controversial theories in that discipline? Do you have an idea for solving a timely issue or challenge?

Blogging gives you the opportunity to join a variety of discussions and craft your professional message to prospective employers and Connectors. We’ll talk about Connectors more, in a moment.

You can host your blog right on your LinkedIn profile so that whomever reads your writing will have easy access to your profile and contact information.

 

On the job

As you teach, you’ll find that the topics will come much easier than before. Did something interesting happen in class that you’d like to share? Did a student break through a challenge they’ve been struggling with and you’d like to share the lessons learned from it? Is there an activity or lesson plan that stood out to you?

Blogs are public, so they're searchable and can help build your reputation outside of the particular school that you are teaching out of.

 

3. Build your career network

 

During your search

A strong career network is comprised of mentors, peers, and Connectors.

Mentors are the people who are more experienced than you and can provide you with their wisdom from years in the field. They may hold a position that you aspire to grow into.

Peers are your fellow NQTs and beginning teachers who can make great allies and brainstorming partners during your search. Whether you are looking for someone to give your newly minted CV a read for feedback or attend professional development and networking events with, your peer network will be an essential source of support during your search.

Connectors are the people who are in the position to help you connect with your next position as you grow throughout your career. Sometimes your mentors and peers can fulfill the role of a Connector; however, the most consistent will be recruiters who specialise in your niche and location, as it is their job to stay up to date with the market and match talent to employment opportunities that the individual may be interested in. The more public you make your teaching life, the more compelling and memorable your personal brand will be when you interact with Connectors online.

Now that you’ve gotten your blog all set up and you are writing away like a pro, you can use it as a way to build your career network by sharing it on social media. On Twitter, for example, you can share your original content alongside other articles and blogs that the teaching community is sharing.

By identifying the online communities of people you’d like to connect with, and engaging them, you’ll be able to spark conversations that will help you gain more insight into the profession as well as build relationships with mentors, peers, and Connectors who can help you in your job search.

 

On the job

Once you begin working, you’ll find that your time will become more limited than it was during your search. With your day-to-day teaching duties, you may decide to prioritise your time by turning your weekly blog into a monthly one. Maybe you’ll start posting to social media a few times a week instead of every day.

Keeping in touch with professional Connectors (e.g. recruiters) will allow you to grow your career by passively seeking opportunities for advancement outside of the school you are currently working for, without needing to spend your time to do so. All you need to do is let them know that you’d like them to keep you on their radar by engaging with them on social media, submitting your CV so they’ll have your information ready for when a fitting position becomes available, or take a look at their careers page periodically to learn about the new positions available in your area.


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Horizon Teachers is a London-based Education Recruitment Consultancy that specialises in supplying talented teaching and support staff to Primary, Secondary and Special Schools throughout London and the South East. 

If you work in Education and are looking for your next role, or are curious to discuss your career with a recruiter that specialises in your field, then do reach out to us.

3rd Floor, 107 Cannon Street
London, EC4N 5AD
Telephone: 0207 444 0009
Fax: 0844 740 0827
info@horizonteachers.com

 

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