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The First Weeks of Teaching

Source: InTouch, September 2011

A teacher has much to learn and consider when they arrive in a school setting for the first time as a newly qualified teacher (NQT). Taking on a professional role, taking responsibility for a class and becoming part of the school community can be a challenging and demanding process. In the first few weeks the following questions may arise:

Who do I contact in relation to the probationary process?

All queries in relation to the probationary process should be referred to Limerick Education Centre or probation@lec.ie

What are the planning and preparation requirements in my probationary year?

It is important to remember that your first and main point of reference for planning is the Primary School Curriculum. The School Plan is an important document because it should contain key messages about whole school approaches. To fulfill the planning and preparation requirements you will need to make sure you have the following (see box below):

What workshops are taking place this term for NQTs and how do I register?

The National Induction workshop programme for term 1 (2011/2012) is facilitated, at local Education Centre level, by practising teachers and will include the following topics:

  • Working as a Professional: What is involved?
  • Planning and Preparation: What is required?
  • Classroom Management and Organisation: What do I need to focus on?
  • Working with Parents: What is effective practice?
  • Child Protection – Ensuring best practice: What do I need to know?
  • Practical Assessment in my Classroom: How?

The topics for the workshops are based on feedback from NQTs and the ongoing assessment of needs. Support will be provided to NQTs throughout the year in the teaching of literacy and numeracy. To register for the workshop programme contact your local Education Centre. Visit www.ateci.ie to find out the location of your nearest Education Centre. Workshops will begin in early September 2011. Please note that the sequence of workshops may be subject to change. If you have queries on induction please contact Mary.Burke@spd.dcu.ie or Mary on 086-8130997.

Planning and Preparation Requirements

Timetable: Refer to page 70 of the Primary School Curriculum for curricular area time allocation and also page 57 of LITERACY AND NUMERACY FOR LIFE - The National Strategy to Improve Literacy and Numeracy among Children and Young People 2011-2020. It is important to consult with the principal and/or mentor if you have questions on curricular area time allocation.

Long-term plan (termly): This initially requires an overview of a forward plan of work from September – December. The termly plan for January – June should be undertaken at the end of term 1. As a newly qualified teacher you may find it best to prepare your long-term plan in three periods – September to December, January to Easter and Easter to June, or alternatively in two blocks: September to December and January to June, whichever suits your style of planning. For further guidance on planning visit www.teacherinduction.ie. It is recommended that the headings from these short-term and long-term planning guidelines be used to plan your lessons, taking into account the learning needs of your class. As a professional teacher you will develop over time your own style in preparation and planning. Effective preparation and planning should have a positive impact on the quality of teaching and learning and should have a particular focus on developing pupils’ literacy and numeracy skills.

Short-term plan (weekly): As a probationary teacher you are required to prepare short-term plans each week. The short-term plan provides a more specific outline of the content to be covered and relates back to what was outlined in your termly plans. It is important that as you get to know your class and as you learn to plan more effectively that you feel confident in making the necessary adjustments to your planning. In fact a plan that has annotations, comments and changes is a well-used plan and shows reflection on the part of the teacher.  (See short-term planning guidelines on website – tá leagan Gaeilge ar fáil freisin).

Cuntas Míosúíl: The purpose of the monthly progress record is to provide a record of the content covered with your class. It is an important and official school record. It must be submitted to the principal at the end of each month.

Mary Burke is co-ordinator of the National Induction Programme for Teachers. www.teacherinduction.ie.