This much I know about…seven basic tips which might help NQTs teach from the front

I have been a teacher for 32 years, a head teacher for 17 years and, at the age of 56, this much I know about seven basic tips which might help NQTs teach from the front.

It is hard to support NQTs this year as observing lessons is not easy. At Huntington we are fortunate to have the IRIS video system. Here are extracts from one of my lessons I recorded for an NQT who wanted to watch other people teaching.

This is a Year 9 English lesson taught to 30 mixed prior attainment students. I teach the class once a week. I am teaching the principles of rhetoric through Mark Antony’s speech in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

I have lots of advantages being a head teacher. That said, I still have to work hard at my practice. Here are six features of my teaching in this lesson which I have identified that might be helpful for NQTs:

1. I never accept an instant “don’t know” response to a question.


2. I use students’ names relentlessly as this helps classroom management no end…this was my third lesson with this group.


3. I am always scanning who is paying attention (and I do not tolerate slouching in chairs…).


4. I go over the speech again when Ella said she did not understand some of the words, even though it was not in my plan.


5. I trust Eva, the teaching assistant, completely. She is excellent. I communicate with her before each lesson, so she knows what I have planned.


6. I was pleased about how much I look like I am enjoying it. I have a lot on as head teacher right now – the classroom is a pleasant escape from track and trace! We have two Dylans in the room and one has been dubbed Dylanus the Plumber and the other is Dylanus the Baker, two Roman citizens. There is an Ethanus too, as well as a Lucianus…


The seventh thing to note is that I concentrate for the whole lesson. Relentlessly I am monitoring students’ attention levels, checking what is going on, anticipating what I need to do – Who’s not paying attention? Are the windows open? How many minutes of the lesson left?

Finally, watching myself teach from the perspective of a 13 year old child is sobering. There are times when I think I look like Joe Biden when he runs onto the stage, attempting to seem youthful…

About johntomsett

Headteacher in York. All views are my own.
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