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Guest Really

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Guest Really



I am an NQT about to start in Reception. What can I do over the next couple of weeks to prepare myself. I have access to the classroom and have some INSET days coming up a week before we start back.


Any suggestions would be great. I am getting very nervous but really really excited too!


Thanks. :o

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Hi Really -

Good to see you back - you got your NQT job at the place where you did your teaching practice didn't you?



I'm going to leave any advice to others better qualified than me - Susan and others I'm sure will have some advice to offer!


Best wishes,


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Hi Really,


You must be very excited! I always enjoy going in to my class over the holidays & trying to get everything ready - I never get it all done mind you!!


This is the first time I'm spending a second year in the same classroom, but here are some of the things I hope to be getting done:-


Putting up some alphabet/number posters - brightens the place up and gives me something to refer to at the start of term. We'll continue putting things up when the children are there so we can talk about them, display them & continue to refer to them. But it's nice to start with some things too!


I make big name cards which I use for a variety of things, & display them at first too. The children can find their name, see that there are lots of other children in the class and we begin to think about initial sounds etc. They're laminated so they'll last all year. We used them at the end of year to read each day and clap the syllables in each other's names. The kids loved it!


Names & pictures on pegs, though I think I'll leave the pictures this year & let the children choose their own. This can then match with the self registration name card I'll make for them. (By the way, I organise pegs in alphabetical order by Christian name - makes it easier for me to find their peg when tidying up!)


The never ending 'joy' of rearranging furniture. I've got a really big classroom but still find it a nightmare to fit in all the 'areas' e.g. Creative area, Role play area (again I just can't seem to get it near to my writing area), listening and story area etc etc. Plus, what do people put in a good maths area? The carpet area needs to be well lit, and if you are sitting with your back to the light it causes problems for children with hearing difficulties (who need to see your lip movements!). I change the furniture all the time - but I still hope that one day I'll find the perfect set up!


Sorting out puzzles & throwing away those with missing pieces - it's so annoying for the children otherwise. Throwing out everything I can, actually- so many classrooms have years worth of clutter kept 'just in case' but it actually has a negative impact because the environment becomes inaccessible to the children!


Setting up a couple of interactive display areas - I'm starting with a simple collection of objects to encourage 'looking', with magnifying glasses, kalaedoscope, semi-precious stones etc, and a velcro display on a screen with numbers to match to photo's of the children that I'll take & pop up on the first day.


Hope this is not just stating the obvious!! Have fun,


Dianne xxx

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hi & congratulations on the job!

Its only natural to be nervous but Im sure everything will be okay!


What should you do?

Thats abit like how long is a piece of string! :o


My first reaction really is make sure you are as rested and as relaxed as you can be. Its hard work out there as a teacher especially as a Reception teacher!! But its where I would choose to be. Its great to see the childrens developing skills and independence.


Dianne has given you some good pointers, although personally I prefer to put up all my displays with the children, certainly those that you are going to encourage them to use and when using their own work,which you will probably need to do after hours, then make time to talk about it the next day. "Whos spotted whats new today" at the very least.

I do like to display an alphabet line but again I make this with the children adding on the new letters as they are covered, particularly if you are using a scheme like Jolly Phonics then you will probably refer to the oicture as you teach the sound.

Similarly construct your number line with the chikdren.

Use everything as a teaching tool that you possibly can!


What you need to make in terms of these things will depend on the commercial investment that has been made.

Have you got the resources you need to follow the phonics programme?

A 3d numberline is always useful, objects rather than pictures that the children can touch as they count them.

Colour name cards are useful-I like the colour words to be written in the colour, you could display these with your writing table and pencils. Encouraging early word recognition.

You might like flash cards of the keywords. I had mine displayed on caterpillar shapes, with a face on the left and taught the the children to look at the face and then follow the letters, so no confusion with no/on etc (at least not too much).

Cards with a number of objects on could be useful- spatial awareness and number patterns. Numeral on reverse. Teach the children 'count, how many'. cf the reading of the numeral.

Name cards--have you got your class list? Look at www.bigbus.co.uk handwriting page maker and make name cards that you can use for name recognition activites and for them to trace and copy to aid name writing.


If you've access to your classroom, make sure your display boards are clean and freshly covered. Look at the resources and get them labelled. Check puzzles etc as Dianne says. If you are lucky this may have been done for you but familiarise yourself with all the resources as best you can.

Read manuals etc of things you are going to be expected to use.

Look at planning etc.


Any energy left? Have some you time. and if you dont get all that sorted dont worry. It will all happen.

Finally ask again on here! :D

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Guest Really



Thanks for all the advice. Yes Steve, I did get a job in the school where I did my TP, you have a good memory.


Dianne and Susan - I have written myself a list incorporating your suggestions and will work through it. I am going to use Jolly Phonics, it hasn't been done before and I have managed to persuade the HT to let me have a go!! I have bought the frieze and posters, I have also got the tricky word flowers and hat to make a display with the children. I have also managed to get hold of the videos too!


I will certainly be back to this forum (now a fully paid up member) and I am so glad you are all here to support me during my NQT year.




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Hi Really

Nothing to add to what Dianne and Susan have said, other than try to enjoy the holidays and have some time for you.

Lots of luck in September, daunting as it must be I am sure you are going to have loads of fun.


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Name cards--have you got your class list? Look at www.bigbus.co.uk handwriting page maker and make name cards .....

Susan - can you check website address, please, as above address led to bus tour!!!!





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Really, Congratulations on getting your first teaching job!!


Starting in Reception is lovely, as for some of the children it will be their first time in school too so you all learn together!

Does your school have digital cameras? I use that endlessly.(But check your school's policy on parental permission for photos to be used in school first) I get the children to take portraits of each other for their pegs and for other things that require a face picture. I also photo their work in the first few weeks so we can talk about what they have done and make displays with them in it. It provides stimulus for others less secure with school and what the expectations/freedoms are to see what their friends have done say in the construction area or role play.


I would also have a think about what you will be planning to do over the second half of the term and the year. What resources will you need for then, as the time to source and resource becomes exponentially less as the year progresses!!! So if you are doing e.g. transport in spring 2 what could you plot in now? trips/visitors/games to make/role play resources etc


But have a good rest and get a mental break from school, when you start you will be assaulted with thousands of bugs brought in by the treasures and using your voice EVERY day can cause strain. It's tiring and that makes us more prone to gettig ill in the first instance. Look after yourself too





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well done Really


Susan and Dianne have given you some great ideas already and I'm sure you will do really well in your NQT year. Having already been on teaching practice at your school means that you are already familair with the school which is good.


i've just completed my NQT year in Reception and it has been good but there are a million and one things I wish I had done differently looking back!

I found I was always changing my classroom layout as its difficult to know how to get it right until you start teaching.

Although others have always told me, I didnt realise just how important firmly establishing the 'housekeeping' type of rules and routines were until part way through the year. It seemed to be little things like tucking in chairs, putting pencils back in pots and generally tidying up efficiently which became a bit of an issue because I hadnt emphasized these seemingly little things enough early on! got there in the end though!

anyway best of luck

Lizz XXXX :D

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HI again


The rules and routines are very important Really, as Lizz says.

Although it is possible that your expectations will change throughout the year as the children become more independent and perhaps do different things or in different ways and I would advise you not to make unrealistic expectations of yourselves or the children initially or you will become frustrated and demoralised it is important that you spend time, probably a lot of time making sure that the children know what you expect of them. Moaning at them will not help so make sure you are using positive behaviour reinforcement techniques and yo this end it is probably important that you talk to someone in school about the behaviour policy. As you have already experience of the school as a student you may know what goes on and if this is the case you might prepare sticker charts etc ahead of the new term. Whatever happens do you not think you are a failure if things dont seem to be working out but do ask for help and support of the appropriate person if you need to, even just as a sounding board.

The way the children interact with you and with each other is crucial to a succeesful year. So spend time playing games, developing speaking and listening skills and interaction so that your group are really comfortable with one another.

Jenny Moseleys book "Here we go round" is excellent for this and very suitable with Reception.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Everybody,


I was just about to post this main topic myself as i begin as a reception nqt this term. Thanks for all your helpful tips etc.


I just wanted to add to questions more to my situation;


I got my position in the last day of the summer term so i had little chance to speak to the school about what to do over the six weeks holidays along the lines of planning etc. Is it normal not to have recieved anything from the school to do... i feel like i should have everything planned by now!


The previous teacher is staying on to guide me through my first few weeks so do you think this is possibly why i havent had to do anything? I haven't met her or my learning assistant yet apart from a quick hello when i was shown around the school.


I get access to the classroom next week but i have no class lists, ideas of numbers or obivously planning, so im finding it hard to know what to do when i go in.


I know all my worries are probably nerves but any advice would be great...

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Hi Buttonmoon, congratulations on the job and welcome in if I havent done that elsewhere.

I dont think you should worry too much about the planning. You should be supported in school as an nqt and it does seem that school teams work together so you may have your long & medium plans presented to you and the short term day to day operation in the classroom will be down to you! Even then you may have timetable constraints etc to lead you.


My advise would be to go into school when you can and get a feel for the classsroom and the resources. You no doubt have some ideas about the set up and operation you would like so think about how you can attain that.


During the first few days concentrate on getting to know the children and establishing your rules and routines etc. I think the children need alot of familiar activities such as dough, jigsaws, drawing, art, construction etc etc so aim to provide and vary those to get art on walls and make the classroom look and feel good. As you are doing this you can begin to get an overview of where the children are.


Perhaps you could establish a number frieze with them and colour or shape sets, who can count, who has numeral recognition? Who has shape recognition and which ones?

So paint pictures of themselves and name them, and display! Who can recognise their name, who can write it from memory, who can copy, who can mark make?

Do they know any sounds within their own name? Which hand is preferred, is pencil grip correct?


I find these essential to establish my groups to enable me to provide appropriate activities.


Also spend lots of time talking and listening together, story reading and singing and rhymes.

Who joins in? Who is never quiet? Who participates readily or only with persausion?

You can play singing games, start simple circle time routines etc.


Observe children at play indoors and out. Who occupies themselves? Who drifts? Who interacts well? Who is always alone? Is the interaction between children always acceptable?

What is the level of gross motor skills as they play? Take them to the hall and let them get used to be there and listening and responding to you as they walk, run jump, skip, hop, stop and start to command. Play games to encourage participation and dont worry about changing to a full kit at this time.


I Believe this should be the basis of your planning for at least the first few days so think about what you can do to give yourself a structure.


Good luck.

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Susan, that was really helpful!

I know I'm not a teacher, but we will be having an influx of pre-school children soon from a closing setting (shame xD ), and was getting in a tangle thinking how I could easily integrate my term-time planning for them, as unknown quantities. I can easily adapt those ideas of yours that need it. Thanks for the headache saver, 'specially as I've got Quality Assurance dealines looming :o


Where would we be without you?


Sue :D

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I was an NQT last year and remember the excitement and anticipation well. I am also excited about the new academic year beginning as I certainly made mistakes last year and have learnt from them, so this time round I will be changing things! In particular, I echo what has been said about establishing routines from early on. This year I am going to spend the first few weeks making sure that the children can find things independently and teach them how to help each other with aprons etc. Last year I thought I did this, but soon realised that most of the class still relied on the staff to help them with things when they could have managed easily had they been shown! I was very hung up on getting through my planning last year (perhaps a spin-off from the scrutiny of university!), this year I aim to be more child-focused. Yes planning is important, but it's more important to be flexible and go with what the children need. It is amazing how much they progress in the final term, so I am going to concentrate on personal & social particularly strongly at first. I have also set targets to improve role-play activities this year, we are getting many children with speech and language difficulties and activities that develop this area is so important in reception.


I spent most of my summer holidays in my classroom last year getting eveything ready. I am one of those people who likes to be prepared and I know that by Christmas, my mentor and the head were very worried about me over doing it. Most NQTs are the same. Just try and remember that you won't get everything done, try to prioritise and sometimes just let things go, if it's not going to affect the children, then it's not important!


Also, try not to feel guilty if you are aware of an area that is not as strong. I was particularly concerned about music and dance. You will not be amazing at everything to start with, it really does take time to get to grips with it all. The odds are that your children are getting a really good deal with you as their teacher and anything that needs improving from a teaching point of view can be done through INSET and NQT induction time. I can't push strongly enough the benefit of observing excellent practice in schools other than your own. Also, the wealth of advice and support on the site is fantastic and you always get a prompt response!


Most important things to do before the children arrive: get name tags on everything that needs them, check out all resources and arrange them in subject related cupboards/boxes, get to know programs on computers, make lots of playdough(!), arrange classroom to your liking (be prepared - it will change again!), sort our Big Books/poems and group readers so that you are prepared in advance, make any charts, ensure display boards are backed nicely (I have one display that will be ready with photos of the children (that I took during induction) and one of the jobs on their first day is to write/trace their name to go with the photo) this is nice because the children try & find their photo and it gives them a sense of ownership of the classroom. My two big tips are make a list of things you want to be done before the children arrive and slowly tick them off (this helps stop you flitting from one thing to another!) and make sure you get plenty of rest....the Autumn term is long and busy!!!!


Good luck & ENJOY! :D (Sorry this message is so long - I got carried away!)



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Shelley, what a brilliant post/response.

I hope you continue to be as excited at the start of each academic year, your children are going to have a wonderful time and so will you!

A good teacher is always striving to improve and although we can get bogged down in innitiatives and paperwork, if you can hang on to that excitment you wont go far wrong. :D

I'm about to start out on a new role as Supply teacher, I hope, as I had become disenchanted with my role in school and need to rediscover the excitment that you describe!

PSE as you so rightly describe must underpin everything that we do, especially in these early day.

Good luck to everyone as you begin your final preparations for a return to school, whatever they may be!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am also an NQT starting in reception on monday - i am now feeling really nervous (and excited) and i have read loads of useful tips, thanks everyone. Does anyone do anything different with recording the 6 areas of learning, or do you put up the 6 A4 sheets and attach post it notes. I wanted to do something a bit different - any ideas?!!


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Hi Chris,

I work in a nursery, so our observations might be a bit different due to the increased staff, but this is what we do:

1) We have one child each session who we all observe and comment on (the six areas of learning are on one sheet, attached to a clip board, and everyone adds to it during the session) The key worker then copies this into the child's records during time set aside at the staff meeting.

2) We have a list of stepping stones up, just a few, which we rotate during the term. This reminds us what we are looking for, and we then note down any quick obs on any children on another sheet, also attached to a clipboard. When these sheets build up, I photocopy them all for all members of staff so that they can write out the appropriate ones for their keyworker children.

3) The third sort of obs we do is during a focus activity, with a specific group of children.


Hope this helps, and good luck with your new job :D

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