If 2020 is your first year teaching then you might be wondering what you signed up for. Let’s be frank, you didn’t sign up for what 2020 has thrown your way. This is definitely what we’d class as exceptional circumstances. But, even without a global pandemic, the first year of teaching is the hardest. I’ve got a few tips to make it run a bit more smoothly, Covid-19 not withstanding.

Have A Plan

You’re first year of teaching is not the time to wing it. A lesson plan is not a guarantee for a perfect, surprise free, lesson but it goes a long way in that direction. You don’t need to prove you’re a ‘real teacher’ by skipping the planning or limiting you planning to dot points on a napkin. I like to get detailed with my planning – down to the minute detailed – but I know not everyone is like that and you don’t need to be, but you do need to be clear about what your learning objectives are and what learning task your students will be undertaking to meet those objectives. Having all this written down will only help to make your second year of teaching easier.

Understand that You are NOT Going to be Everyone’s Cup of Tea

I know you’re lovely. You know you’re lovely. But not everyone is going to like you. Not all your students are going to like you. Not all your colleagues are going to like you. You are not going to like all of them. That’s life. The key words here are respect and professionalism. You expect to be treated with respect by everyone you come into contact with, and you treat everyone with respect because, now, you are a professional.

Avoid the Staff-Room Politics as Much as You Can

I’m not talking about union membership or discussing the upcoming elections here (although, enter those conversations with caution). I’m talking about the factions and power-plays that take place between colleagues and in the staff-room or at meetings. These are not unique to teaching, where ever you have a group of people working together you have those who want to push their own agenda. Nope, I don’t get it either. Don’t get sucked in by these people. Know you’re own mind, know what’s important to you and resist the (very natural) urge to belong to any one group.

Make Friends

You might think this contradicts our point above but there’s a huge difference. Friends like you and respect you whether you agree with them or not. Friends support, teach, and learn from each other. Friends don’t get the knives out at the first sign you don’t agree with their push for leading teachers not to have clean-up duty in the staff-room. Friends in your first year, of all ages and teaching all subjects, can make a tricky year a little bit easier (and infinitely more fun).

Do Professional Development

There’s probably a requirement in your state or territory that you complete a certain number of hours of PD, but you might be tempted to do the bare minimum. The thing about PD is that you not only get to expand your skills, you get to meet other teachers, hear about other schools and you get a break from face – to – face teaching. It’s a bonus if they put something yummy on for lunch.

The first year of teaching can be difficult. We promise it will get easier, especially if your first year has been plagued with the dreaded C-19. We hope that these few little tips will make your first year a bit smoother.

Are you a first-year teacher? What’s your experience been like? If you’re an experienced teacher is there any tips you’d like to add? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Wendy Allott

I'm an educator, mum and wife living in beautiful Victoria, Australia. I make learning resources for passionate, but time-poor, teachers in need of a better work-life balance. I'm a voracious reader, love a good curry, and believe life is always better with chocolate.

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