By Mark Richards,
The first year of teaching is tough – very tough even. But you can and will get through it. Here are a few practical tips to help you survive the first year.
Don’t to be afraid to ask questions and seek support
Of course, any newly qualified teacher will be supported and monitored during the first year. Naturally, this should be done in a totally supportive manner – and it virtually always is. However, the mentor that is assigned to an NQT is often a member of the middle or senior leadership team. This can be quite intimidating for a newly qualified teacher. Sometimes it makes it harder for the NQT to approach the member of staff who is designated as their mentor. They might feel that their question or issue is small or trivial, and don’t feel that they should trouble their mentor with.
Because of this, it is a great idea to befriend colleagues who have two or three years behind them in the classroom. They will still remember all too well what it was like for them in their first year of teaching. They will be able to relate to what you are going through. Such a colleague is an invaluable friend to sound off to, or shoulder to cry on when needed.
You should never be afraid to ask questions. However you look at it, the first year of teaching is a bewildering whirlwind. It can often feel that everybody else knows everything except for you – from the countless number of acronyms that proliferate school staff meetings, and the weight of policies and procedures that you are somehow instantly expected to understand and implement. There is no such thing as a stupid question. Nobody in the staff room will mind if you don’t know something. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Focus on the positives
There will be negatives and your fair share of bad days in your first year of teaching. It’s almost inevitable. If it’s any comfort, you should feel reassured that virtually every single teacher alongside you in the staff room will have gone through similar experiences and tribulations.
There will be probably be tears along the way – possibly even days when you feel like you can’t take any more. Because of this, it’s always important to remember – and to focus on – the good things: the compliments from parents or colleagues, the look on a pupil’s face when they really ‘get it’ – the proverbial ‘lightbulb moment’.
Don’t dwindle and linger on the negatives because the positives always outweigh them.
The first year of teaching is frenetic and fast-paced. Not only that, anybody new to the profession finds out that there never seems to be enough time in teaching. There is always something to do and there never seems to be enough to time to do it all. This is why you need to be super-organised. Keep a to-do list, keep one step ahead of the mechanics and logistics – such as photocopying resources in advance – and stay in control.
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