Starting your first teaching job is a scary prospect. But every teacher has to start somewhere, and there is plenty of advice around to help you out…but where to start?
We’re hoping that we can help. In an effort to continue supporting our newly qualified teachers, we’ve gathered some of the most useful advice from our own flock, in the hope that we can help you to thrive in your first year.
So, you’ve done the training and gained qualified teacher status. You’ve jumped through hoops, and now you’re ready to teach your first class. Yikes! The key is, don’t panic…and, get as much advice from other nqts/teachers as you possibly can.
But for now, take a look at the tips we gathered from our own staff to help you through:
1. Don’t be afraid to go off plan
This was one of the most popular tips for nqts that we received. While preparation and organisation are key to exciting, memorable lessons, don’t be afraid to fall off the tracks a little if your class discussion is heading in the right direction.
2. Time spent improving behaviour is not time wasted
One of our teachers recommended this book “Getting the Buggers to Behave” by Sue Cowley, if you’re worried about class behaviour. The main points included taking the time to improve and perfect behaviour from the very first day – let your class know that you’re serious and that you expect consistency regarding good behaviour. It’s well worth it.
3. Manage your time
Although multi-tasking is useful, you may be sacrificing completing the activity to the best of your ability. Work through each task one at a time so you can complete it more efficiently. Get the most dreaded tasks out of the way first, and stick to a set time period in which you should complete it.
For the tasks you enjoy most, it can be very easy to spend a little too much time on them, so make sure you have everything else boxed off first! If this is something you find you may be struggling with, downloading our free time management and other teaching resources should help you get your priorities in order.
4. Know the syllabus inside out
As a teacher it’s expected of you to think on your feet. The first term can be quite overwhelming for most, so you will need to rely on your knowledge of the curriculum to give you the most confidence, while you are still discovering what kind of teacher you are.
5. Look after yourself
Teaching is a fast paced environment – sometimes you can get so caught up in the job, that you forget why you wanted to become a teacher in the first place. Don’t let teaching absorb all of your energy, and make sure you set time aside to look after number 1. Don’t forget, teacher wellbeing comes first!
6. Find time for inspiration
Keep your creativity fresh through finding inspiration from others. Observe lessons outside of your subject area, and use your nqt time to observe good practice in both your school and other schools. One particular teacher mentioned that Twitter was a great place to find inspiration from teachers across the world!
7. Learn to say no
There may be times where your colleagues want to add to your work/commitments. While they most likely see you as a budding nqt, this can be taken advantage of, so don’t be afraid to say no if it’s too much. It’s important not to spread yourself too thin – you may not wish to come across as unwilling, but you do want to be able to perform each task to the best of your ability.
8. Decide how and when you do your marking
You can easily fall behind with your marking if you don’t take time out regularly to complete it. If you know your attention is required elsewhere, plan your long marking sessions for the evenings, when you can sit down quietly with a cup of tea to complete them. One teacher suggested a marking party, which should make it more bearable! You could also plan a lesson based around the children marking each other’s work.
This might seem like an obvious piece of advice, but it’s so, so important. Every child is an individual, with different feelings, fears, hopes and dreams. Listen to their issues, and in return you may be rewarded with their undivided attention too.
10. Get advice from other teachers
The best advice we can give you is to talk to as many teachers you can, especially if you have any particular concerns. There’s a strong chance they have been in a similar scenario at some point of their teaching career, and rather than dwelling over an issue, it can be a real breath of fresh air hearing that someone else has experienced the same thing. There are a number of psychological challenges that come with being a teacher, so having someone to see you through any rough patches can be a huge helping hand.
It’s easy to make mistakes during the early stages of your career. But don’t fret over the things that you didn’t do well. Simply reflect, and learn from them.
Make it a part of your own development, and perhaps allocate yourself some time each week to revisit your notes/lesson plans, so that the next time round, you’re ready to hit the ball out of the park!