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Stage 5 – First Term

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself ” – Henry Ford 

NQT Feeling

Teachers, your recruit may come from all over the world, with varying degrees of experience and experience. 

You likely hired that teacher as they demonstrated what an excellent practitioner they were at their previous school. 

The key point here is… at their previous school! 

Your school, your city/country, your staff, your children, the way you deliver your curriculum is going to be very likely to be different from when they were successful at their previous school. 

You, and the new member of staff, can not expect them to be as successful at your school right away with some guidance and support. 

This has been described to me on numerous occasions as the NQT (newly qualified teacher) feeling. The new member of staff basically feels like a brand new teacher with no experience. 

This is another reason why your induction process needs to be so successful. You spend a lot of time, energy, and money getting this new member of staff to your school. So, put the time and effort to make sure they have the best chance of succeeding. 

Some may not succeed and that is the way life is, this is not an exact science! However, if you just push them off the pier and expect them to swim you are not giving that member of staff the best chance in succeeding.

And, surely you and that staff member want to succeed in this new position! 

It is crucially important you give them some responsibility as soon as possible. Value their experience they are bringing with them. We are not talking about them re-writing your Mathematics curriculum but some responsibility where they can feel ‘useful’ right away. 

Settled and Competent

As has been stated already, your goal in any induction is the new member of staff, and their family, become settled and competent in their position at school. 

This is much less likely to happen by osmosis and you need to be specific in how you ensure this happens. 

For this to happen you need to check-in both formally and informally. 

Formal Catch-Ups

It is important that you catch up with the new member of staff within the first month of arrival in more than a ‘How are you doing?’ in the staff room or in the corridor. 

The meeting should be in your office or a senior leaders, with the headteacher/principal is even better. 

When meeting the first thing you need to do is share some positives that you have elicited from their line-manager, team and/or parents/children of the new member of staff’s arrival. 

Then topics then such as:

– Explain how you feel right now in your new role?

– What have been the highlights thus far?

– What are your goals/ambitions for this year? What would a successful year look like for you?

– Has anything got in your way which has hindered the effectiveness of your arrival? 

– If I were to tell you right now that you are taking my job/the headteachers job what would be the first few things you would want to change?

– (alternative to the previous questions) You have great experience and we want to learn from you. You have been here a month (or however long), what do you believe the key areas for us to improve are?

– End on a lighter note with something like – ‘So, where is your first holiday planned?’


It is important now that if the new employee has given you some items to action that you do them right away! Show them that their input is valued, that they can talk to you and things will get done. 

DO NOT gossip with staff about what is said or you will break trust right away! 

These formal meetings should be conducted (at the least):

– Within the first month

– At the end of Term One

– In the final term of school

Staff who settle very quickly probably do not need more than this. However, staff who are struggling to settle need more meetings and target setting to ensure their concerns are dealt with. 

Do not ever dismiss someone’s concerns as ‘their problem’ and something they need to deal with. Whilst you should not have to hold someone’s hand the whole way, you must understand that any problem the member of staff has is affecting the quality of learning in their classroom, thus the quality of learning at your school. 

Ongoing Feedback

Whilst the above shows how personable you are and how much time you want to devote to your new staff it is unlikely that the staff will be comfortable to open up to you 100%, though I have seen this happen on a few occasions! 

Good practice for all staff, not just your new ones, is to send out a staff survey which is anonymous and you make it very clear that this is anonymous. 

Here you are looking for:

– Staff Wellbeing – this should be both a quantitative score (so you can compare over the year) and examples of how this is great, and could be improved. 

– (new staff) How effective the induction period has been with ways it can be improved. 

– Many of the questions above can also be used here as now this is anonymous you may get a little more information that staff were not willing to share in person, and this includes your current staff. 

 

My advice would be for this to be done termly and then not only do you get great feedback from the individuals who work in your classrooms, interact with your parents every day but you can also track staff wellbeing. 

If any staff member scores a low score on wellbeing you know you have work to do and whilst this is an anonymous survey you can highlight how a number of people have graded low in this survey and these options are available for those people. 

Informal Catch-Ups

You need to remember the names of children, spouses, pets, where they are going on holiday, what are their goals for this year and ask the new staff, and existing staff for that matter, on a regular occurance. 

Spending a little time remembering this information goes such a long way in building relationships with your staff. 

Timeline

You need to now, if you have not already, give the new member of staff a timeline of the year ahead. This is not a long list of events that can be found on the calendar but:

When is their appraisal and how can they succeed here? What is the process? When will you observe their practice? When will you be setting targets for the year ahead? 

The headteacher/principal should be observing every new recruit as the ultimate responsibility stops with them and the new employee needs to see that they are valued by everybody at school.

When does their probation period end and how will the new recruits know how to pass or fail?

What are the upcoming CPD opportunities?

When are the first reports? The first parent-teacher conferences/meetings?

Teamwork

Teamwork is such a huge criteria to the success of a team or project that we will be devoting a whole section of this website to it. Contrary to popular belief, teamwork does not come naturally and has a much lower chance of being successful without specific intervention. 

As part of this section of the website, teamwork needs to be a key part in what you develop in your school. The staff member/s need to see that everybody is there for them and willing to assist. Everybody has been new once before and current staff need to remember this. 

It is also important that you make a big part of your induction period managing the integration of the new and current staff. A social committee can go a long way to supporting this area of the induction. 

Continued Induction / Wellbeing

The induction is NOT the first few weeks at school. As stated at the very start of stage 1, induction is “the period of time from when an applicant first notices your school to them being settled in both your school and place of origin.”

This could be one-week, it could be one-month, it could be one year. Everybody, and their family, will be different. 

Your induction team is responsible for ensuring that this happens. Regular check-ins, should continue. 

Failing Teachers

As with rejecting teachers before or after is not a nice expereince, having a failing teacher can cause a lot of time, effort and pain for all involved. 

International teaching is not for everyone! Let me repeat… International teaching is not for everyone! 

Many staff members either miss their family back home (this needs to be considered upon accepting a new teacher) or are just not a good fit at your school. 

There is so much research out there that talks about how destructive an unhappy employee can be on your team. Of course, nobody is suggesting that your fire someone right away. You have to do your part, you have to support the staff member, you have to put targets in place and do all you can to help them settle and succeed. 

However, it comes to a point where you have to decide if that member of staff has any chance of success or not! 

I have personally lived through both sides of the coin here. I have been at a school that did as described above but realised that the member of staff was not a good fit. They did not pass their probation and were given flights back home, paid for by the school, and support in finding a new position. This was not easy for those few weeks but a replacement was found and the year ended so much better for BOTH the school and the member of staff. I have led a team where one member of staff was a terrible fit, had a very poor attitude and was refusing to follow the school philosophy. The head of school here informed us to ‘just let her do what she wants and get on with our jobs.’ This was a very difficult year for all involved and ultimately the quality of the learning for the children greatly suffered. Do not fall into this last example, as your team who really want to give their all deserve so much more! 

Evaluate your Induction

Again, another area which is often neglected with the mad-rush which most first term’s are, if evaluating your induction programme. As the point below will remind you, the induction for next year’s staff beins a month into your new school year. So, you need some feedback on your current system before then 

Send out an anonymous questionnaire to staff, ask during their initial target setting meetings what they thought was effective and what could be improved. An example survey can be found here (INSERT LINK)

As we have stated already, the induction is not just the first few week, or months… it is until the new staff member is settled and happy. So, your end of year staff survey needs a section for staff to write about the induction whether they were the new staff being inducted, or a current staff member who observed the induction and was maybe a buddy to the staff. 

Next year starts now!

Yes, your new staff have only just arrived. But, your job advert is going to be going out very soon for the next academic year. Are you keeping the same induction team? The planning for next year now needs to be edited from this year. What can be improved? What worked well? Remember your plan for next year’s new staff starts before you send out your job advert. Planning for next year – click here