Being a new teacher can be just as daunting as being a new pupil. From new faces, to new procedures through to managing your own classroom, being a teacher is as rewarding as it is challenging, and if you’re new to the career you could feel overwhelmed by the journey ahead of you.
To help you with this exciting time we have compiled our top 10 tips written by teachers with over twenty years’ experience.
- Maintain a healthy work/life balance
As you know, teaching is one of the most stressful jobs going. Do not let the job take over your life, set time aside for yourself and your family. If you have hobbies, do not let them slide because it’s those that will keep you sane through the inevitable tough days of your first year. Yes, you want to impress and do your best for your pupils but if this comes at the cost of your health then it’s not going to work. Remember – very few perfectionists survive teaching!
- Be a good colleague
In a good school you will find that there is a strong relationship between colleagues, however this does require a bit of give and take. Even when you are rushed off your feet, it always pays to invest a little time into being a good colleague. Simple things like making coffee for a teacher on duty, sharing a good resource or website, helping with displays or performance practices, always get repaid many times over and you’ll earn a reputation as a team player.
- Develop a good relationship with your Teaching Assistant
If you have a teaching assistant, they can be a huge benefit but only if you manage them appropriately. Remember that they are a colleague and it’s likely that they aspire to be a teacher one day. For this reason, remember to treat them as a partner in the classroom, work to develop them professionally, value their contribution to the smooth running of the class and you’ll build a positive relationship with them, that way they will do all they can to help you and make your life easier.
- Get parents onside
It is crucial that you get to know the parents of your pupils and for them to know you. There is always caution amongst parents when a new teacher joins the school and it is essential to put the parents at ease as soon as possible. Your school may have a ‘meet the teacher’ evening at the start of term and if so, try to get to talk to as many parents as possible. Be realistic in talking to them, do not promise them the moon but let them see you as professional, capable and enthusiastic.
- Have high expectations
From the beginning, develop high, but not unrealistic, expectations of your class in terms of what you think they can achieve and in terms of their behaviour. Children do not like to disappoint and if you discuss your expectations with them and tell them when they are meeting them, they will work even harder to please you.
- Challenge your pupils
It’s easy to give pupils work that does not really challenge them, but whilst you think it might give you a quieter time in class, it can lead to frustration and possibly disruptive behaviour. Supported challenge is the key, give pupils relevant work that they will find tough but tell them that you will support them to succeed with it and gain the satisfaction from their achievement.
- Don’t take bad behaviour personally
The life of a teacher is a wave of mixed emotions and learning to deal with bad behaviour can certainly be challenging. Learn to distance yourself from bad behaviour and do not take it personally. Always remain calm even in the most stressful situations, it is imperative to ensure that the pupil does not pick up on the fact that you are troubled.
- Set the rules and enforce them
If you plan to set some classroom rules, make sure that they are enforced always. Perhaps choose three or four core rules and write these on your School Dry wipe magnetic whiteboard. State the consequences for any students who break the rules and follow your action through.
- Manage your classroom effectively
Effective classroom management is essential. Think of it as running a small business, you must manage the ‘employees’ (the pupils), the resources and the work schedules. Use the pupils to help you manage the day to day running of the class, taking the register to the office, collecting in books for marking, sharpening pencils etc. They’ll enjoy the responsibility and it will save you time. Have defined routines, children prefer to know what is going to happen during the day and what is expected of them. It may take time to get it running like clockwork, but it will be well worth the effort.
- Have fun and enjoy it
Our final piece of advice is simply to enjoy teaching. Each day brings many rewards, from a child finally understanding to the home-made cake on your desk in the morning. Teaching is tough but for most of the successful, happy teachers, it’s a vocation, not just a profession, and of course let’s not forget the glorious summer holidays!
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