I remember embarking on my own teacher training journey a few years ago. Quite honestly, I had no idea what it would involve. I knew people who were teachers, had spent some time in school, but what it would be like to be a teacher was unknown territory.
With that in mind, here’s some advice to consider while you’re embarking on this crazy, intense but rewarding journey.
It will be hard
Teaching is a challenging profession. I still get home from a day and feel my brain ache from the decisions, the focus and the intensity of being in the classroom. Don’t expect it to come easily and be prepared to feel like you don’t know what you’re doing.
Everyone you work with will have gone through this
Everyone from your Head of Department, to the Headteacher will have got through teacher training. It may have been a long time ago, it may have been quite different from the course you’re doing – but at some point, they will have been new in the classroom and probably made the same mistakes you will.
Teaching is all about lifelong learning
I suppose that sounds obvious – but what I really mean is YOUR lifelong learning. You’ll never have teaching ‘completed’, there will never be a week that you don’t face something new. Get used to thinking on your feet and enjoy the variety.
Keep in mind why you wanted to become a teacher in the first place
It’s easy to forget the reasons you first applied when you’re knee deep in planning, marking and you haven’t been outside for six weeks. The strength of these reasons are what will see you through to the end, and the reason some people won’t make it.
During my training and NQT year I looked back at the original application letter I wrote to remind myself why I started, this also showed me how far I’d progressed.
A child’s behaviour is NEVER your fault
Children behave in negative ways for a vast number of reasons, as a teacher this is not your fault. You can’t control their behaviour, only manage negative behaviour when it happens. Get to know the sanction system of your school inside out and use it before you get frustrated. Your focus is the majority of students – if you’re frustrated about the behaviour of one student, that’s unfair on the others. Remember, removing a student from your lesson is not a sign that you’re a bad teacher – it’s a sign that they aren’t able to learn today.
Don’t get involved in politics… yet
Teaching is fraught with politics, both on a school and national level. You may (and should) feel passionate about this. But your training year is not the time to get involved in that. When you’re qualified you can picket and petition as many things as you want, but right now stay focused on the students in your class.
Don’t rush to get a job
When I was training, I remember some people on my course landing their NQT positions as early as January. I wanted to stay at the school I was in and waited until April for a position to come up, turning down interviews at other schools in the meantime. Sometimes the best opportunities do not come first.
You’re never more than 7 weeks from a holiday
I don’t agree with countdowns usually – I want to be present and enjoy every day – but when you’re going through a challenging short-term process like teacher training, they can be useful. Get a couple of holidays booked so that when you have time off you’re making something of it.
Enjoy it, because you are making a difference
The students don’t care that you’re training – you have the ability to make a difference to their lives as much as any other teacher in the school. Enjoy it and good luck!
Would you add anything to this list?
Do you have any concerns I could help you with?