6 things every new primary school teacher needs to know
Posted: Sept 22nd 2015
Congratulations on qualifying to enter the world of glitz, glamour and hedonism that is primary education. Sorry, I meant glitter, clamour and headaches – far more exciting. You’re about to embark on one of the most challenging yet rewarding periods of your working life, so here are a few pointers to help you make the most of it:
1. Get to know parents
Parents have more influence over their child’s life in the classroom now than ever. You’ll probably hear your school’s veteran staff reminiscing about the days when teacher, head and parent were all guaranteed, as surely as night follows day, to unite as one to deal with a child’s disciplinary problems or lack of effort in the classroom.
2. The staffroom: you might not want to go there
Besides hosting a constant scrummage for the kettle or biscuit tin, the staff room is often the hub of the school building. But it’s also the one place where you’re most likely to get collared by a senior member of the staff and “updated” or expected to quickly digest an urgent memo.
If you actually need a break, it’s the one place you might want to avoid. Even after seven years,
3. Sorry, there will be nasty people teacher network
You may feel a little bit isolated as your induction year progresses, and particularly around those who are seasoned professionals or who have risen very quickly up the ranks. Support should be on hand in the form of your mentor, but in rare cases it’s worth bearing alternatives in mind.
4. DO smile
“Don’t smile” is a clichéd piece of advice regarding classroom discipline, typically dished out to new teachers by veteran ones. The truth is that at the moment, too many children have little or nothing to smile about at home and their best hope of any positivity might be in your hands. It may sound simplistic but it’s pivotal – whenever you can, smile your head off. A little bit of comedy goes a long way.
5. Be aware of the rise of cross-curricular writing
The rise of extended writing in the primary classroom is nothing new – most schools will have seen a notable increase in the quantity of writing, editing and re-writing their pupils are required to produce. More recent studies suggest that children learn subjects more effectively by writing about them at length. Brace yourself for questions about how you’re planning to make this happen early on in the new school year. And sorry, but don’t expect your marking pile to become any more manageable either.
6. Let go
The first class you teach will always be special, despite the times when you have been left screaming in your store-cupboard shortly after home time. But everybody has to move on, and you would do well to bear this in mind. The end of the year will creep up on you so be prepared to feel thoroughly emotional during those last few days, and thoroughly exhausted in the few that follow.
Now go and enjoy your new career – and make sure you stick at it because it’s worth it.