So, you have completed your initial teacher training and are about to embark on your early career induction years. Congratulations! What a brilliant achievement and a fabulous career choice you have made. We need you in the teaching profession, now more than ever! But before you launch into the new school year, and maybe a new class in a new school, take a read of these gentle reminders for the year ahead...
1. You are more than a teacher
It is wonderful that you have chosen teaching as your career, and you will almost certainly have some fabulously life-affirming experiences while you work with children and young people, helping them to achieve to the best of their abilities and beyond.
However, it is so important to remember that you are more than a teacher. You may have family and friends you spend time with, hobbies, sports activities, or volunteering commitments outside school, but while finding your feet in a busy career such as teaching it is so easy to let pretty much everything else fall by the wayside.
Don’t do that! You are so much more than being a teacher and never forget that!
Aim for balance in your life as much as possible. If work is demanding a lot of your time and energy, that’s the point at which you need to plan in non-work activities, not to mention rest and relaxation. All work and no play is utterly unsustainable. Don’t fall into that trap.
2. It’s not personal
Starting out as a teacher can be emotionally and physically exhausting, as well as being exciting and fulfilling. The energy, passion and commitment it takes is freely given by new teachers but it is not always easy to notice when you are running low on the fuel needed to get through each day. The more tired and exhausted we get, the harder it is to deal with the ups and downs of a normal school day, term and year.
Just remember, if you encounter a difficult situation or an event that makes you question your skills and abilities, it is nearly always not personal. Take a deep breath and respond from a neutral position that will keep your sense of worth intact. It is not personal. If it feels personal, talk to a trusted friend or colleague who can offer guidance and advice. Your union rep can be helpful here, too.
3. Say yes… and no
There will be so many opportunities to be involved in a wide range of tempting activities in your school. Many of them will be fun (school plays, Christmas concerts, sports days, charity events, PTA events) but all of them will take additional time out of your already packed schedule. While there may be no choice over some extra activities, be really careful about saying “yes” to those you have some choice over. Hopefully you are in teaching for the long-term so there will be plenty of opportunities to do it all in the years to come.
While undertaking induction focus on what you need to do and conserve energy to support your wellbeing. All the “would like to do but really don’t have the time” events can wait for another year. Supportive teachers know and understand this.
4. Be a magpie
The colleagues you have in your school will be able to offer a wealth of contextualized experience, potentially making your life a while lot easier. Ask questions, have conversations, and be open about what you want to learn more about. Do not be afraid to show vulnerability and be clear in your ambitions for your professional learning.
Your colleagues will be able to offer support and guidance, and open doors to the next stages of your learning. Ask to observe them, too, but just remember the role that personality plays in the running of a classroom! There are so many professional insights that you can glean from others, but the way in which you utilize these in your classroom will be unique to you.
5. Build relationships
Healthy schools thrive on great relationships between staff, between staff and parents, between staff and pupils and between pupils. Never underestimate the power of these relationships in helping to ensure the smooth running of a school. But they don’t happen by chance.
Schools with great working relationships build them and nurture them all the time. Nothing is left to chance. Don’t lie low while completing your induction. Get to know your colleagues, learn from them and laugh with them. Time spent nurturing and developing relationships in schools is always time well spent.
Find out more…
- Get to grips with the Early Career Framework by registering to attend Episode 1 of our Everything ECT webinar series.
- The Primary Teacher’s School Year Planner and A Practical Guide to Teacher Wellbeing by Elizabeth Holmes are both published by Sage.
About the author
After graduating with a degree in Politics and International Relations from the University of Reading, Elizabeth Holmes completed her PGCE at the Institute of Education, University of London. She then taught humanities and social sciences in schools in London, Oxfordshire and West Sussex, where she ran the history department in a challenging comprehensive. Elizabeth specialises in education but also writes on many other issues and themes. As well as her regular blogs for Eteach and FEjobs, her books have been published by a variety of publishers and translated around the world. Elizabeth has also taught on education courses in HE and presented at national and international conferences.