Philip McCahill, NQT at Shireland Technology Primary shares with us his top five tips for early career teachers. Catch Philip and other great speakers at this year’s Early Career Conference on Saturday 9 November in Manchester.
If you’re entering the teaching profession, it can be daunting. You may feel like there is so much to learn and do, to help you settle into your role and improve your practice. I hope these top tips for your first months as a teacher, from my perspective as a newly-qualified primary teacher, will help guide you and reassure you, as you enter the best job in the world.
- Seek advice and act on it. There are lots of colleagues in schools to support your development. My best tip is to open a regular dialogue with your mentor and other close colleagues, to find out how they think you can improve your practice and to inform your planning. Everyone knows what it was like when they were a new teacher and most are happy to help you and share the wealth of their experiences and advice. Once you have the advice, try to act on it.
- Be consistent. The impact of consistency will be evident in your teaching and in your classroom environment. Set out your expectations and reinforce them, and plan regular routines which will become familiar to your learners. Consistency supports learners to respond appropriately to your instructions and to know what to expect from you. Be familiar with whole school policies and routines to support you with this too.
- Model everything. From behavioural routines to written tasks. Through modelling, you can demonstrate the purpose, process and intended outcome of activity to students. A model enables you to show an example and for everyone to have a shared understanding of what success looks like.
- Trust yourself. As teachers, we are also lifelong learners and we can never be an expert at everything; there will always be more to learn. However, we all have our own ideas and experience to bring into our classrooms. There may be preferred approaches and curricula in your setting, but there is room for you to try out new ideas of your own or that you’ve ‘magpied’ from colleagues. It is worth venturing into the Edu-twitter sphere, where a community of teaching colleagues share their lesson activities, ideas and advice, which could have a positive impact in your classroom too. It is important for you to try out new ideas and see what works in your lessons.
- Build relationships. The relationships you develop with your students and colleagues are at the core of your teaching. As Maya Angelou said, “your students may not remember what you say or do, but they will remember how you made them feel.” Be approachable and genuine. Make sure that you engage with your pupils authentically and it will help you to engage them in lessons. Show them that you are trustworthy and that you genuinely care about them, their wellbeing and their success.
Bonus Tip: Dedicate time to your professional development. Read, research and take advantage of the CPD opportunities available to you and the professional discussions you have with colleagues.
Looking for more early career-inspired content? Check out the Early Career Area on MyCollege!