Starting a new teaching role can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. As an Australian teacher, there are several things you can do to ensure a smooth transition into your new school. In this blog, we will discuss some things you should do before and on your first day in a teaching role at a new school.
Before Your First Day
If you want to start strong and make a great first impression at a new school, preparation starts before your first day. Here’s what to do in advance to make your first day a smooth one.
Research the school
When starting a teaching role at a new school, your first step in preparing for day one should be to do a little research. Because every school is different, taking the time to research the school and its culture will help you feel more prepared and ensure you aren’t going in blind. A good place to start is the school’s website. Here you’ll be able to find info on the school’s vision, values, and teaching methods. This will give you an idea of what to expect on day 1 (and beyond) and help you understand the expectations for you as a teacher.
Depending on the school, it’s also a good idea to research and follow any school sport teams or other groups to show your support in advance and ensure you have something to chat to staff, students and parents about from the get-go.
Get familiar with the curriculum
To help you feel more comfortable in the classroom, you’ll want to make sure you have an understanding of the curriculum of the classes and year levels you’ll be teaching. This will help you understand what topics you need to cover and how you can integrate different learning outcomes into your lessons.
Connect with your new colleagues
Depending on your personality type and whether you already have connections at your new school, you may like to reach out to your new colleagues before the first day to give yourself a head start in building relationships with your fellow teachers and gain some insight into who you will be working with. Some possible talking points are the school culture, their own teaching careers and what they enjoy about working at the school.
It’s also a good idea to reach out to school admin or leadership staff to introduce yourself and ask any questions you may have before your first day.
Plan your first day outfit
Sometimes the simplest things can go a long way in boosting your confidence. Planning a great outfit before your first day is a good step to ensure you can put your best foot forward when the big day rolls around. Rather than racing around the house and throwing on the first thing you can find, take the time to plan something that makes you look and feel good. Aim to dress professionally and in line with the school’s dress code.
Organise your teaching materials
One of the most important parts of preparing for any new teaching role is making sure you have everything you need for the classroom in order. This includes lesson plans as well as your “bag of tricks” containing everything else you need to keep your students occupied and the class running smoothly.
Plan your first week
Begin planning your lessons for the first week of school. This will help you feel prepared and organised, and give you a sense of control over the situation. Remember to be flexible, as plans may need to change depending on the needs of your students.
Research your route to school
It may sound simple but when your first day rolls around, you’re going to have a million things running through your head. On top of your first day jitters, imagine if you realised at the last minute that there were major roadworks causing you to be late for your first class… not a great first impression.
On Your First Day
The big day is finally here! Here’s our advice on what to do—and what not to do—to make your first day at a new school one for the books.
For starters, you should plan to arrive early on your first day at a new school. As well as helping you plan for any hiccups you may encounter on your new commute, arriving early will give you time to get the lay of the land and meet your new coworkers—more on that next. Once you get to school, set aside some time to unpack and prepare your classroom for your first lesson. This will give you the best chance of being relaxed and ready to go once that first bell rings.
Introduce yourself to other teachers
From the minute you get to a new school there’s going to be a lot of new people. To make a good impression and forge good relationships, go out of your way to introduce yourself to your fellow teachers, admin staff and leadership. Depending on the size of the school and the number of introductions, it will probably take you some time to remember everyone’s names. If your school uses name badges—great! If not, do your best to get to know the other staff. This will help you remember their names faster and send you on your way to building a new network of teachers.
Build relationships with students and parents
At the same time, it’s a good idea to make yourself approachable to students and parents. Take the time to get to know them, learn their names, and make them feel comfortable and welcomed. These relationships can make or break your experience as a teacher, so building a rapport with students you teach (and those in the wider school community) as well as their parents is something you’ll want to tick off early on.
Attend all meetings
Some schools will schedule an orientation or a special staff meeting on your first day or first week of work. Not only are these a great opportunity to get to know your new colleagues, they’re also your chance to get to know the school’s policies and procedures and ask any questions you may have.
If you’ve been teaching for a while, you’re probably well aware that all schools operate differently. While you no doubt bring your own attitudes and ways of doing things to a new school, you should make an effort to be open-minded and receptive to your new school’s policies and ways of operating.
Expect to adjust your plans for everything from the structure of your classroom to the hours you spend at school based on the school’s culture and expectations. Particularly when you first start a new role, do your best to be flexible and adaptable as you settle into your new role.
As well as adapting to suit the new school, you will also likely have to adjust your teaching style to meet the needs of the students you’re teaching. Remain flexible and ready to pivot and change your approach.
You may need to adjust your teaching style or approach to better suit the needs of your students, and there may be unexpected challenges along the way.
Be open to feedback
Finally, be open to feedback from your colleagues and administration. They have more experience at the school and can often provide helpful insights and suggestions to help you settle in, improve your teaching practice and better meet the needs of your students.
So there you have it. While there is a lot to consider when you’re starting a new teaching role, the thing to remember is that the school chose you over all the other candidates. Back yourself and enjoy the new role!