What do teachers need?
1. In-depth knowledge of your school
All teachers benefit from knowing as much as they can about new schools – from knowing how to find their way around the school to understanding how key policies are implemented and who to turn to for help. With interviews and even induction days in some cases likely to have been conducted remotely, this gap is much larger than usual.
2. The details of how your school will deal with the ‘new normal’
Added to the area above, new teachers will have to understand the new rules and systems introduced in response to the COVID19 epidemic. Existing teachers may have had some experience of this at the end of the summer term and will have been involved in planning for the new term, but new teachers will need explicit instructions!
3. Help with your hybrid learning systems
It seems likely that all schools will have to be prepared to move back to remote learning in the case of local lockdowns. Your current teachers will have had significant experience of the systems your school has access to – new teachers may have had experience in distance learning but with different tools – they may of course be able to add value by sharing what they have learned at other schools.
4. A clear understanding of any ‘recovery curriculum’
The idea of ‘recovery curriculum’ may be controversial but many schools are looking to focus learning, at least in the short term, on areas students have missed out on. That means that new teachers may be teaching different material to what they might have expected. For example, NQTs in primary school may not have experienced teaching the year group below the one they are teaching.
5. Confidence and support
All staff may understandably be nervous about returning to the classroom, and this will be especially true of teachers who may also have moved into your area. New teachers may also have challenges accessing childcare or travelling by public transport – both of which may be disrupted in the Autumn.
How should schools respond?
1. Offer mentors to all staff
Research carried out by Teacher Tapp last year for the book ‘Recruiting Teachers’ found that only 29% of schools in the UK offered mentors for all new teachers in a school. And while NQTs will all get professional mentors, they could also be offered a ‘personal’ mentor to help with the wider issues above. If you can set up this scheme and link people up as soon as possible, this could be a huge help as the situation changes over the school holidays.
2. Let them watch lessons in advance
One of the best ways to understand how a school works, and one often offered to trainee teachers, is to follow a student or teacher around the school. That isn’t going to be an option with schools at the moment, but if your school has recorded lessons, why not share them with the new member of staff? This will help them understand the language your school uses around issues such as reward and behaviour in particular. Any video will work, including our Lessonvu system.
3. Take a coaching approach rather than a performance management one
This is not a time to push new staff into strict performance management processes. Professor Rob Coe argued recently for ‘kind environments’ for effective teacher feedback. Think how you could make early observations wholly positive and supportive, as well as providing an opportunity for teachers to share any concerns as soon as possible. One approach might be to use an external coach for support – read this case study to see how we worked with Nathan Price (an NQT at Hereford School) offering remote coaching to complement his first teaching year.
The New Normal series of blogs offer practical tips for school leaders and teachers to help them adapt to the new ways of teaching and learning. Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to receive the whole series and the final guide book at the end.