On twitter this week myself and other tweachers have been posting ideas/ tips for those of you who are about to be PGCE/ GTP/ NQTs.
We’ve all been tagging these with: #toptipsfornewteachers (go check them out).
I thought that I might try to sum up some of my key ideas here, and then as I go along, tag any other posts/ reblogs with this tag so that they can be found more easily. As a PGCE Secondary English Mentor in my school, I deal with new teachers all year round, and I give them this same advice.
So, here goes…
- Invest in a good bag.
As a new teacher, you will no doubt be in numerous rooms/ sites/ buildings for your lessons and that means carrying around all of the books and equipment you need. A good bag is essential in helping you do this, and stay organised too!
- Invest in a good external Hard Drive/ USB memory stick.
You will likely be working at home when planning, writing reports, doing assignments etc. Having somewhere you can back up all your work and access it easily anywhere within work/ home will make life easier. Trust me.
- Erasable board pens. Buy some. Then buy a few more and keep them stashed in that good bag I told you about. You will always need one, often when you don’t have one. People will ‘borrow’ them and not return them - annoying, but true I’m afraid!
- Have a good support network. This is divided up - you can’t have all your eggs in one basket. What I mean by this is that you need family and friends around you, to love you and listen to you (as well as spend time with you away from work). However, these people often think that you’re job starts at 9, ends at 3 and often requires little or no effort - so they DON’T always understand the pressures you’re facing or the emotions you’re feeling. In this case, you need your other basket of eggs. This is where you have somebody who is like you, a teacher, and understands what you’re dealing with. They might be your mentor, fellow PGCE/ GTP/ NQT, or even just a friend who is also a teacher.
- Take time out. It is SO easy for this job to take over and rule your life, but find time every week that is for you. I often set aside Saturday as a non-working day. Use this day to see your friends, family and loved ones. Alternatively, read a book, watch a film, etc. Just don’t do work!
- Be organised. What I mean here is - use your diary, use your teacher planner, use your calendar and know what’s happening when. Things like parents’ evenings, department meetings, staff meetings, data input deadlines, report deadlines, assessment hand in dates - they all sneak up on you. Get them in your diary and know when they’re coming, so you can start working on them before hand.
- Be Organised - part 2. Now you’ve got your dates and deadlines -start organising everything else. Keep classes separate - a plastic wallet/ folder for each so that resources, marking, homework, lesson plans do not get muddled and lost. Do the same on your USB/ external hard drive - keep planning separate. It is important to know what you’re doing, when and with which class.
- Have somewhere to work. This is crucial. When I did my PGCE, I sat up for hours every night, sitting on my bed, trying to mark, plan and write assessments, because I didn’t have somewhere to work. So, my mum helped me buy a small desk and a chair. Bingo. Minimal room-much better working environment. Now, I often stay after hours at school - in my room/ library PC and work for a few hours. Printing done there, without costing me money! When I work at home, I have my new desk (so long as my fiancée isn’t hogging the PC too much!).
- Healthy Lifestyle. OK, so I’m being a little hypocritical here. This is something I’ve only just begun to understand myself, but yes - eating clean and taking part in some kind of activity/ exercise will help you feel better. There are some dark days/ months ahead and eating cake 24/7 might seem like the only way to cope, but eventually it’ll catch you up and you’ll feel bad for it. Also - there are times when you think you’re too busy to eat and drink - no. You’re not. Eat your lunch and drink plenty through the day - your body needs it so you can do your job, and do it well.
- Enjoy, reflect and rethink. Teaching is a rewarding and enjoyable job. There are moments when you will not believe you’re lucky enough to do this every day. In contrast, there are days when it really was hell and you want to cry. But, no matter which day it was - take the time to reflect on what did/ didn’t go well and identify what you need to do again, and what it is you need to change. Then do it.
Hope this has been useful. It’s certainly helped me the last few years.
September’s nearly here - good luck all! xx