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Advice for New Teachers
37

LolaSmiles · 22/06/2021 21:25

Lots of people give time to share advice and experience with people new to teaching and considering teaching.

I thought I'd create a thread that we could signpost to for common tips/solutions/general advice, as well as share things that have worked well.

Mine for now would be:

  1. Ignore scaremongering at the start of your training year. When I started some people seemed to delight in telling us we'd never have time to pee, and sex would be out the window in favour of lesson planning. It doesn't have to be like that. It's hard at times, but it doesn't have to take over your whole life.

  2. Listen to experienced colleagues. Within reason you don't have to do things their way all the time time here there may be things you disagree with, but there will be things to learn in those circumstances. Even if you disagreed with them on particular things, the learning will come in handy later.

  3. Have comfy shoes, a bag you can organise well and scarves/layers are your friend. Classrooms aren't well known for temperature control

    Over to you staffroom.
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MrsHamlet · 22/06/2021 21:36

Good thread, Lola!

  1. Observe as many teachers as you can, both in your dept and out. You won't like all you see, but you'll see what works and what you can magpie.

  2. You don't need to reinvent the wheel. Schools have schemes of work for a reason.

  3. Don't get stuck at the front of the room, covid permitting. Own the space.

  4. Enjoy it. It's the best job in the world.
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AttaGirrrrl · 22/06/2021 21:36

Great idea.

I totally agree with yours (especially layers!) and want to add:

  • drink plenty and protect your throat/voice. You will lose your voice several times at the start of your career but staying hydrated helps reduce the frequency!

  • treat each lesson as a fresh start for everyone. If a child misbehaves in a lesson, leave it in that lesson (so long as the behaviour has been addressed according to school policy). The next lesson should be a blank slate. Give them a new chance.

  • when teaching identical twins, seat them in alphabetical order as you look at them (eg Anna to the left as you look at the classroom, Bella to the right) 😅
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LolaSmiles · 22/06/2021 21:41

- when teaching identical twins, seat them in alphabetical order as you look at them (eg Anna to the left as you look at the classroom, Bella to the right
I like that tip and I'm not a new teacher. That's so much more efficient than my strategy.

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Serena1977 · 22/06/2021 21:41

This is great, keep them coming please. I start my pgce primary in September!

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MrsHamlet · 22/06/2021 21:43

@LolaSmiles

- when teaching identical twins, seat them in alphabetical order as you look at them (eg Anna to the left as you look at the classroom, Bella to the right
I like that tip and I'm not a new teacher. That's so much more efficient than my strategy.

I cannot tell my twin story ... but this is a brilliant idea 😂
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LolaSmiles · 22/06/2021 21:45

We're happy to help Serena1977. Most years a few trainees stumble into the Mumsnet staffroom. You'll get lots of good advice and different perspectives here.

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AttaGirrrrl · 22/06/2021 21:47

Oh, I’ve thought of more:

  • get a mug with a lid

  • buy a good pair of scissors and guard them with your life (all school scissors are shit)

  • allocate one night a week that’s ‘your night’ and do not work that night (I joined a drama group and copped off with the tutor, much more fun than lesson planning 😂)
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MrsHamlet · 22/06/2021 21:56

I bought an extra freezer a few years ago. I realise that's quite specific but I spend one day per holiday batch cooking so I don't have to eat takeaway every night when I'm busy.

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Serena1977 · 22/06/2021 22:07

I have dd9 and ds8 so any specific ideas to help manage work/life/family balance would be very welcome!

I know it will be really hard work but I'm prepared to put the work in and learn.

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TheZeppo · 22/06/2021 22:14

  1. Don’t let it takeover your life - and don’t believe anyone that says it has to! That way lies burnout.

  2. You set the mood of the room. If you’re in a grump/over reacting, the kids will sense it. Though it’s hard, a positive mood from you will help (I don’t mean don’t have firm lines).

  3. make your expectations clear to the class from the get-go. ALL classes test the boundaries. Keep them firm so students know where they stand. They’ll respect you a heck of a lot more in the long run.

  4. At parents evening, split your class books into boy/girl piles. EXTREMELY helpful for those once-a-fortnight lessons where you think you know all the kids, but inevitably one pops up that you’re not sure is Katie or Katy 🤣(give them the girl pile, you pretend to look through the boy pile, book found and mystery solved 🤣).

    Great thread @LolaSmiles , reckon I have a few more to come!
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LolaSmiles · 22/06/2021 22:20

I retrained before DC, but my friends who had children found that being organised and having a healthy outlook of 'good enough' worked well.
It's better to have a trainee who is delivering consistently good (not using it as ofsted term) lessons who has a sustainable working pattern and devotes time to reflect/learn than a stressed and frazzled trainee who is working 1287 hours a week, spending hours selecting the best images for their PowerPoints and colour coding their teacher files but doesn't take the time to reflect.

I use the balls in a jar analogy with trainees. If you fill a jar with sand and then try to fit ping-pong bus and golf balls in, you can't fit them in. If you put the golf balls and ping pong balls in first and then add the sand then it all fits. The golf and ping-pong balls are your family, your health, your hobbies or things you do for wellbeing, the essential elements of your ITT programme. The sand is all the nice to haves, the fancy resource someone mentioned, colour coding your timetable, the snazzy PowerPoints, the things you'd like to say yes to in order to look good for job applications.

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AttaGirrrrl · 22/06/2021 22:37

4) At parents evening, split your class books into boy/girl piles. EXTREMELY helpful for those once-a-fortnight lessons where you think you know all the kids, but inevitably one pops up that you’re not sure is Katie or Katy 🤣(give them the girl pile, you pretend to look through the boy pile, book found and mystery solved 🤣).

Inspired @TheZeppo! I love it.

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AttaGirrrrl · 22/06/2021 22:45

I’m loving the ping pong idea @LolaSmiles, but a colour coded timetable is ESSENTIAL.

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LolaSmiles · 22/06/2021 23:11

Timetable might have been the wrong example. I'm also partial to a colour coded timetable, but I've had someone serious ask me what colours they should do and whether I liked the bright or pastel version. Who has time to theme it?

The only second version of a timetable should be the one in miniature that can fit behind your staff badge to check on the move. I stole that idea from an NQT.

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Timeturnerplease · 23/06/2021 06:27

Might be more applicable to primary (though, given the maturity level we’ve seen in Year 6 over the last few years maybe is the case in secondary too) - make sure that you do NONE of the logistics in your classroom at all.

I currently teach year 3 and they do everything for me - hand out books/resources, sort out cutlery etc at covid lunchtime, organise home time, deal with recycling..:. Means I can use mornings and after school for marking and admin rather than waste time taking down chairs etc. My class come in every morning to a list of jobs: hand out X books, write date, put X resource on each table etc. Keeps them quiet and busy too!

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noblegiraffe · 23/06/2021 11:34

Learn the kids' names as quickly as you can. It's your best tool for behaviour management.

I do it by sitting the kids in alphabetical order initially (per the register) and once I know the kids' names in that seating plan, I change the seating plan. First time you will learn the names associated with where they are sat, then once you change it, you get better at identifying them by face. Have the seating plan on your desk and deliberately use to it pick on kids you can't remember the name of. Test yourself! Learning names should be something you make a deliberate effort to do, not just hope it will happen over time.

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CommanderShepard · 23/06/2021 18:05

This is so useful, thank you!

Speaking as a TA doing SCITT next year, here's some of my advice:

  • be very nice to any and all support staff. For a start, they know all the gossip but also you'll get much further if you make an effort to get to know them.

  • USE YOUR TA. I've seen so many students who have no idea what to do with me.

  • Put your photocopy codes on the back of your lanyard.

  • When I have covered in the past I have found it helpful to have all the IT resources open in order. When transitioning from say English to Maths all I have to do is flip to the next tab; no faffing about opening things and losing pace.
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RuleWithAWoodenFoot · 23/06/2021 19:58

Observe
Experiment
Even really experienced teachers fuck up lessons
Clear out paperwork from your desk and drawers at the end of every day (if you can), and definitely every week, and DEFINITELY every term.

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Namechercanged · 23/06/2021 20:02

Great thread.

-Learn names a la noble

  • speak to parents early on in the year for positives and negatives. I always make positive calls last thing on a Friday. Makes a shit week seem better.

  • Have boundaries. Work when it's work time, and then stop. Prioritise and if it's not done, it's not done.

  • Be planned a couple of days in advance and use reprographics dept if you have one. Saves you photocopying time.
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phlebasconsidered · 23/06/2021 20:27

I am year 6 (only ever been in primary with 6, was
a decade in secondary too)

Start off speaking quietly. If you start loud, you can only get louder.

Mark as you go. Do at least 2 tables in class.

I find getting in earlier is more productive than staying later. I get in early, it's quiet, the photocopier is mine, there's no one to chat to.

If you know you have a heavy detailed mark in one subject/class, plan another to be self or peer marked.

Use your seating plan. Feel free to move them. They take time. Don't put your prize shouty naughty boy at the front, they have an audience. Stick them at the back, maybe facing a wall.

Even older kids like stickers and prizes.

I have a chart on my wall with spaces for best listener, politeness, kindness and teamwork. I put names up as I go on the half term and leave a pen there for the students to add names. Prizes at the end of half term. Surprising how it works, and it's often the kids who slip through the notice net that get on there.

Wait for quiet. Wait some more. Wait longer than you thought possible. The old one of writing QUIET on the board and losing some of break works.

Ring home. Not just for naughties, but for goodies. A phonecall home to say their child was focused,kind, great at something etc does a lot. I sometimes send postcards home. Better than certificates, which are often daft or unobtainable. This week I rang a parent to say how impressed i'd been with their kindness and maturity in an incident and the mum responded so gratefully. It often.opens up whole conversations because a)they are pleased and b) it's more individual.

This doesn't apply in secondary, but remember in primary, your drawing and art skills are always brilliant, and you get to feel like Tony Hart / Van Gogh.

I get asked crazy questions all the time and if I don't know the answer I will say that and find out. And then tell them. It models learning really well. This week I didn't know the calorific intake and need of the Siberian Nenet people. I am finding out. Not knowing is a marvellous example. Sometimes you can do pretendy not knowing and they LOVE finding out for you.

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RuleWithAWoodenFoot · 23/06/2021 20:56

If you get to do any CPD once you are teaching, find your key take-aways from the training and use them/try them quickly - ideally the next day.

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Getawaywithit · 23/06/2021 22:09

Join subject specific Facebook groups - best CPD you’ll get and more resources than you could ever need.

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TheZeppo · 23/06/2021 22:33

@AttaGirrrrl I was pleased with myself when I created that system 🤣

@phlebasconsidered I’m secondary and my art skills are renowned (not in a good way 🤣)

Love this thread! So nice to share tips.

Another few of mine:

  1. Have tinned soup available. Sometimes lunch time isn’t a thing, but I (unashamedly) take a cuppa soup to period 4. Hangry me isn’t a good teachers.

  2. Recognise that kids have lives outside the classroom, and they have bad days too. Honestly? Sometimes you need to let them
    be. Much better than having a battle over a worksheet and ruining your relationship (when 9 times out of 10 they’ll catch up later).

  3. always have a word search available for ICT issues 🤣
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Serena1977 · 23/06/2021 22:36

These are all marvellous. Thank you. Keep them coming!

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MrsHamlet · 24/06/2021 06:51

Mark frequently so it doesn't build up. I refuse to mark books in the holidays... if that means a few late nights, that's fine but my holidays are mine.

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