How to survive your first year as a teacher: Hoard glue sticks

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I’ve got to say, my NQT year wasn’t exactly a peach. I had what was widely acknowledged to be the trickiest class in the school, and six weeks in, the school had a nasty Ofsted inspection, for which they had expected to receive Outstanding – but actually got Requires Improvement.

A lot of that year was about pure survival. Everyone was stressed out to the eyeballs, under all sorts of pressure from governors and the local authority and HMI, and, kind as they were, probably didn’t relish little NQT me dancing about their heels, asking annoying questions about how to level pupils and how to teach ratio and proportion. For reasons which couldn’t be helped, I worked with six different Teaching Assistants that year. It was a bit complicated. It was not the best of starts.


I did survive, and I did pick up a thing or two that year that made life easier. And then I picked up a thing or two more the following year that made life easier still. This new term marks the beginning of my fourth year as a qualified teacher, and I’m still learning things all the time that make me want to smack my head and go: ‘Well, DUH!’ because they are so obvious and because I so much should have been doing them since Day 1. (Such as hoarding glue sticks at the back of your stock cupboard, so that you don’t run out halfway through the autumn term, leaving you with NOTHING to stick glitter to card with at Christmas.)

So what did I do? I wrote a practical guide for rookie teachers – the guide I would have liked to have read three years ago today – and it was published on the Guardian online today (and in the actual paper too!), and I hope that it helps at least one newbie teacher survive that rollercoaster of a first year. You can read it here.