This poignant ad from NSW Teachers Federation is about a teacher’s first day.
There’s one week to go until the school year begins in NSW. Students will move into new grades and classes. Kindergarten students will begin their school journey. Hundreds of new teachers will start teaching their own classes for the first time.
It’s an exciting but overwhelming time.
There is so much to learn, to be responsible for and to do.
This is the first in a series of posts that I hope will help teachers who are getting started on their careers. It won’t be just my advice: I have some awesome guest bloggers lined up, each of whom bring a unique perspective.
To keep up with the series, you might like to subscribe using the link on the sidebar.
The most important piece of advice I want to give you right from the start is this:
You are not alone
Teaching is rewarding and meaningful work. It is fun, creative and challenging. But it is also incredibly difficult at times.
When you start, you have to get your head around the curriculum requirements for your students and how to cater for their individual learning needs. You’ll need to write a program, develop units of work and find resources to make these programs happen.
You have to learn to manage your class and deal with the different behaviour, emotional and social issues that go along with it. There are routines to figure out, and organisational issues, like where to house all those resources and how to deal with the deluge of paperwork that will inundate you from day one.
You will have to learn how to build positive relationships not only with your students, but with their parents and your colleagues. There will some difficult people and conversations.
But you don’t have to face or figure out any of this by yourself. Your colleagues are either going through the same thing with you, or have been there before. Don’t be afraid to talk with them about what you are going through.
It is a stressful role at times, and it’s our colleagues who get us through. No one expects you to know everything and be able to do everything on the first day. In fact, no one expects that after twenty years. We are continually learning and developing as teachers no matter what stage of our career we are in.
So take up opportunities to build a support network with your colleagues.
If you work in a small school, or are finding it difficult to build a support network within your own school, you still don’t have to be isolated.
Networks for New Teachers
There are several supportive networks you can be a part of.
Join Twitter and start following other teachers – you’ll find a very engaged, friendly and supportive community there who will happily offer help, share ideas and discuss issues.
If you are working for NSW DEC you can also join the Yammer network – sign up using your DEC email address but replace the letters DET with TAFE. Yammer is a private social network. Just post a question and you will usually find several people willing to answer. People are also very generous in sharing programs and resources.
Join your union. Unions work hard to support their members, so find out what services your one offers new teachers. If you are a NSW Public School Teacher, you can join the NSW Teachers Federation. Here is a link to some of their resources for new teachers.