Experience; it's the one asset that takes you places in this day and age. As a new teacher, whilst you have worked with pupils and other teachers in a mixture of different capacities, the one thing you won't have is the professional experience of b-e-i-n-g a teacher.
Yet with time (and a whole lot of patience), your current learning will become your invaluable experience for your future.
To survive that tricky first year of being a new teacher, follow these top 10 rules to build the best personal portfolio for your professional development!
1. Be a bookworm and do your research!
When it comes to being a new teacher, the more prepared you are, the better your efficiency and effectiveness will be in the classroom. Do as much research and reading as you can from books, news articles, blogs and magazines.
It may be a good idea to subscribe to several RSS feeds that can hand-deliver trending and current topics of interest as well as following relevant hashtags on social media. The more prepped and prepared you are now, the more you will be able to craft and deliver as a new teacher.
2. Observe other teachers like a hawk
Seeing is believing and this is most definitely the case when it comes to teaching. You can read all the guidebooks you want, but it is not until you step inside a classroom and watch another teacher that you get a true insight into what works and what doesn't.
Observe as many teachers as you can as all teachers will have a unique and personal teaching style and delivery. Find out how they engage and manage the behaviour of their students and use these to help you in your own classroom.
3. Find yourself a personal mentor
Another important aspect of being a new teacher is having the first-hand experience of a mentor to help guide and grow you as you develop. Some schools may allocate a teacher in your school that you can go-to as your wisdom provider but if not, take the first day to observe the existing teachers in your school and pick one whose styles and techniques you admire.
Ask them if they mind sharing their wisdom and advice with you as having someone you know can help when the going gets tough will be a great confidence booster. This support network that you build around you will be the key influencers in helping you to survive your first teaching year.
4. Find your work | balance
As the old saying goes, the more time you put into your job and students now, the easier your life will be further down the line. Standard working hours are exactly that, so working beyond those now and again will only stand you in good stead for getting some good work done!
That being said, work is exactly that, work! Ensure that you keep your wellbeing healthy and balanced by giving yourself the time to do the things and hobbies that you enjoy outside the classroom.
5. Earn the respect of your students
Possibly one of the most important rules of being a new teacher is taking the time to get to know each and every one of your students. The more time you invest in building relationships and rapport with each pupil, the more respect you will receive as their teacher.
Often teachers are told that their students have to earn respect but the same goes for the teachers themselves! Remember, the more invested you are in your students and the more they respect and listen to you, the more engaged and successful they will be in your lessons.
6. Engage with parents + family
An essential but often overlooked aspect of being a new teacher is to reach out and communicate to all individuals in your school network - including your students' parents.
It can feel scary reaching out but engaging and keeping the communication positive, clear and open between your pupils' support networks, it will help put that pupil in the best possible place to succeed.
7. Schedule in time for reflection
Bring a teacher, let alone a new teacher is a steep learning curve when it comes to time management and organisation. Managing children, behaviours and workloads can leave you without time to check in with yourself which could then lead to burnout.
Make yourself a priority for as little as 5 minutes each day to reflect on what has happened, what you thought you did well and areas you'd like to work on. A little self-reflection enables you to get to know yourself in different ways and keeps your emotions in check.
8. Be innovative
You've heard it before and you'll hear it again; being innovative in your lesson planning is the best way to keep your students engaged in the classroom. Innovative content is great but new teachers often get so focused on getting it all taught that they fail to prepare their content delivery.
Often, lessons can become stagnated and repetitive, despite the content being different and new. Focus not only on making your content fresh and exciting but the way you deliver and demonstrate this to your students should be as equally creative!
9. Failure is your friend
No-one enjoys the feeling of failing but it's true when they say that we always learn from our mistakes. Fearing failure as a new teacher can often end up backfiring and causing you to make even more small mistakes. When we become too focused on what could go wrong, we programme our minds to then do exactly that! Stop.
Remember that messing up is entirely human and entirely okay. Your very best lessons and breakthroughs can come from the very worst of situations so flip the negative into a positive reflection. You may fail from time to time but it's getting back up, dusting yourself off and crackin' on regardless that'll make you a winner.
10. Have fun!
When it comes to being a new teacher, you can often get so caught up in trying to prove yourself and make a good impression that you forget to do one tiny little thing: live.
Instead of living two steps ahead, bring yourself back to the classroom and live in the moment whilst enjoying it! Appreciate where you already are, give yourself some slack and have a little fun!
About the Author
Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in social media management and editorial writing for jewellery and gemological education, Sarah is the Digital Marketing Executive at Opogo.
Sarah has extensive experience in facilitating the sourcing of industry research, editing copy, writing web content and utilising social media to secure an ever-growing social audience.
Sarah is the voice of Opogo across all our social channels.