Written by Amy Green, Associate Director of Teacher Education at Real Schools
Starting your teaching career is exciting, fun and like going on a bit of an adventure. Depending on what path you take though, you could find yourself following the Yellow Brick Road to Emerald City or lost in the Dark Woods as you look for breadcrumbs you dropped so you could find your way home. Teaching is a fairy-tale. There are magical creatures, witches and wizards and morals to be learnt.
To save you travelling down 10 different paths and trying to figure out the moral of the story, here are 10 things you need to know as you begin your teaching adventure.
You are supposed to make mistakes
Teaching really is a trial and error game. Over time you will get better at knowing which pieces of the puzzle go together, but as you begin, you will make mistakes, and that is OK. This is how you learn, improve and find out your preferences as a teacher. If you find yourself holding back on trying something new because you are afraid you might fail, do it anyway. This is how you learn.
You can’t do it all
Teaching, differentiation, assessments, playground duty, PLC’s, staff meetings, homework, plan excursions, change displays, sharpen pencils… the list is endless. Some of these things are essential (like teaching) and others you may need to let go, ask for help or work with colleagues to achieve. Don’t feel the need to do it all now. Choose a few things you want to focus on, set goals and work towards these. Over time it will get easier, but know that there will always be something to do.
Manage your time or it will manage you
Mastering time management is a skill. Don’t let time take over you, instead aim to master your time management skills. Schedule your day like you do your lessons, break your whole day into 30-minute chunks and schedule in EVERYTHING, including driving time, dinner and when you sleep. Use this to find pockets of time to achieve things that you didn’t know you could. E.g can you use your commuting time to listen to a podcast or can you find one lunch break where you can sneak in some marking?
Prioritise the 4 Pillars of Teacher Health
I often talk about the 4 Pillars of Teacher Health. These are simple, important and effective to maintaining energy, being able to make it through the day, stay focused and get things done. Water, sleep, movement and nutrition are key to you having a great day both in and out of the classroom. Prioritise these things as best you can.
Learning doesn’t happen without a connection
Connection + Content = Learning. Before you begin ticking off things in the curriculum make sure you have taken the time to build a connection with students. Connection means knowing who your students are as people, finding out their interests and a bit about where they come from. Once you have done this you can begin to organise and tailor content to meet their need so learning can happen easily and effectively.
If you don’t laugh you will cry. Laughter is a mood booster, makes things feel lighter and can mean the difference between getting annoyed or moving on. Laughter is also a great tool to use to connect with your students. Nothing is so serious that a good laugh can’t fix it. Laugh loud, laugh more and laugh often.
There is no such thing as a perfect lesson
A great lesson, absolutely! But perfect? I am afraid not. With teaching, there will always be something you may have done differently, improved on or not done at all. You will have lessons that flop and need dramatic makeover and lessons that are great which need a few tweaks. Either way, know that perfect isn’t what you need to be chasing, but instead providing lessons where you students will learn, have fun and feel successful.
Your Wellbeing is up to you
There will be times when you feel stressed, overwhelmed and like all you want to do is sleep. Your wellbeing is something that at times you may feel has gotten away on you. What is important is that you know how to take care of you. Wellbeing is about managing your mindset and emotions and having tools you can use when it all gets a bit too much. Self-Care is also an important part of your wellbeing. Know what self-care looks like to you, again have a toolkit you can draw from and build in daily habits and practices that are always about improving your overall wellbeing.
Ask for help ALL THE TIME!
Asking for help is one of the most important skills to develop as a new teacher. Why? Because asking for help means you can take advice, recognise areas you need to develop and work with colleagues. Sometimes we see asking for help as a sign of weakness when in fact it is a sign of strength. Knowing the areas you need to develop in and accepting help for this is a great way to develop your skillset as a teacher. Don’t feel like you need to struggle all alone, teachers are great at helping each other, just ask them.
Be kind to yourself
Lastly, be kind to yourself teacher. Teaching isn’t like any other career, it is demanding, stressful and rewarding all at the same time. Some days you will feel like you have got it all together and other days you will have no idea what you are doing. Welcome to teaching. It does get easier, but there will always be something to do, something to improve and something that needs your attention. Be kind to yourself teacher, you are doing the best you can.
Starting your teaching career is one that requires support. Within Real Schools Academy we have multiple avenues of support which are designed to help you as you being teaching.
- Beginning Teacher Partnerships: a 12-month partnership supporting you to develop and understand different skills needed to ensure you are successful both in and out of the classroom. (click here for more information)
- Teacher Wellbeing Partnerships: a 12-month partnership to help with a deeper understanding of what Teacher Wellbeing really is including practical strategies to use immediately. (click here for more information)
- RSA Intensive Courses: a Beginning Teacher Faculty which includes 6 6-week intensive courses you can choose form, work through at your own pace and be supported along the way. (click here for more information)
About Amy Green
Amy Green is Associate Director of Teacher Education at Real Schools and leads Real Schools Academy. Amy is an expert in Teacher Wellbeing and has exemplar knowledge and skills in this area. She is also a highly skilled teacher herself with outstanding practice in explicit and instructional teaching, differentiation and formative assessment. All of this combined enables Amy to support and enhance the capacity of all teachers. Amy is committed to making teaching easier for all teachers so they can thrive both in and out of the classroom.