Once the summer is over and September is on the horizon, the anxiety and excitement of becoming a new teacher can be a little overwhelming. If you are about to graduate from your teaching degree and you are slightly apprehensive about what to expect, here are 8 top tips to keep in mind before you start your new teaching job:
1. Seek advice and guidance
One of the best things you can learn as a new teacher is to seek help from veteran teachers who have been in the profession for a number of years. Learning from experienced staff may give you a little more confidence than walking into a new environment without any help or guidance. Ensure that you ask as many questions as possible to gain as much information as you can. Learning from co-teachers in particular would be highly beneficial once you start the role, as they are already aware and understand the strengths and weaknesses of particular students. Trust their judgements should they make any remarks and allow them to guide you with your planning and preparation in the first few weeks. Guidance is God send in the first few months as a new teacher.
2. 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 a challenge. Learn to distance yourself away from bad behaviour and don’t take it personally. This is especially relevant if you are becoming a teacher in a high school, as teenagers will often have major flare ups – which is often subject to hormones. Try and remain calm even in the most stressful situations, so the student doesn’t pick up on the fact that you are flustered or anxious.
3. Keep students engaged
As a new teacher, there is no doubt that you are aiming to keep students engaged through the work you have planned. There is a high likelihood that if students are bored or have little to do, they will become disengaged and begin to misbehave. Try and keep a balance between theoretical learning and practical learning as a way of engaging both visual learners and practical learners. Aim to encourage each student’s individuality. If you believe that a task would work well for one particular learner, try it out. Being diverse in your teaching strategies gives students the chance to express themselves in their own way. A good teacher will adapt their lessons to correspond to the vibes and energies within the classroom.
4. Have the courage to learn from mistakes
As a new teacher, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. There is no doubt that you will come across hurdles which you may never have expected – but that’s okay. You are still on the learning journey yourself and shouldn’t beat yourself up about errors. As you become more experienced, you will learn from these mistakes. Aim to try new ideas to get the best possible response out of the students. If you don’t change up your techniques, you will get bored of teaching extremely quickly.
5. Set aside enough time for preparation
Organisation will be an important factor within your first year of teaching, therefore ensure that you set aside enough time for lesson planning and marking. This will save you a great deal of time and pressure in the long-term. You may decide to dedicate your Friday evenings to your prep time, or a couple of hours each weeknight. It all depends on what works for you. However, knowing that you are all set for the week ahead will be a great feeling.
6. You’re the adult in the room
There may be times when you feel intimidated by students who wish to push your buttons and the boundary between student and teacher becomes blurred. Remember that you are the power force within the classroom, therefore don’t bow down to difficult students.
7. Don’t try and be too controlling
Although point 6 states that you should remember your power authority within the classroom, try not to come across as too overpowering, as your students may hold back from contributing or having the confidence to express themselves openly to you. The more they feel as though they are being controlled, the higher likelihood that they will rebel. Aim to be on their side without allowing them to overstep the mark.
8. Set rules and enforce them
If you plan on setting classroom rules, ensure that these are enforced at all times. Perhaps choose three or four core rules which are memorable and remind students of these rules on a regular basis. State the consequences for any students who break the rules and follow your action through, otherwise there is no point in setting rules to begin with. The risk of that behaviour pattern will worsen if there are no consequences.