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- Remember that in your first teaching placement, your department very much operates as a team. If you show you can work well in a group, your department can enhance how your placement develops and your learning on the job.
- By sharing ideas, knowledge, resources and time, your department can also be a valuable support network, as you settle into training to become a teacher.
2. Maintain the right attitude
- Once the first-day nerves have worn off, it’s vital to keep coming into the classroom with the same amount of energy as your first day – motivating and engaging pupils is much easier when they can see their teacher is equally as invested in their learning.
- Keep your word – Only make promises that you can follow through on – don’t promise rewards (or punishments!) that you aren’t going to be able to deliver on, it erodes your integrity and will make it harder to manage unruly pupils.
3. Ask for help
- Your professional mentors, HOD and fellow teachers have all been through the same thing; they will want and be able to offer you support and guidance. Reach out to them if you need some advice.
- Form a support bubble – If there are other trainee teachers in your school, introduce yourself and support each other. You can also join the NSEAD Trainee Teachers and ECT facebook group, which has other students who are sure to understand he challenges you are facing – it’s great to talk things through with people in the same boat.
4. Don’t be too hard on yourself
- Every trainee teacher has stood where you stand now, excited, nervous and wanting to make a difference. If things don’t always go to plan that’s okay! Learning from every experience is what matters.
- Reflect on what went well and what could be improved for next time.
- Learn all the pupils’ names - Use a seating plan and, if you can, access photos of all your students to drill their names into your head (this can be done in SIMS or equivalent). Refer to them when marking to match the written work to their in-class performance.
- Be firm but fair - You need to set the boundaries right from the get-go but you also need to foster a safe and non-threatening environment that exudes empathy, self-respect and mutual respect.
- Use praise - Don’t allow yourself to be seen as insincere with positive words to students in class, but do notice constructive behaviour and praise clearly, well and often when it is deserved to get the best response. Focus on praising the good rather than admonishing the negative.
6. But most important of all…take care of your wellbeing
- Look after yourself in and out of the classroom – it sounds simple and repetitive, but drinking enough water, getting enough sleep and eating regular meals makes a huge difference to your energy throughout the day. Knowing how to unwind and look after your own wellbeing is an essential skill for all teachers! Download the My Healthy Advantage App or visit the online Wellbeing Portal (sign into the NSEAD website first and access the details here).
- If you have a tough start and need to speak to someone outside of your placement/university, why not use our member wellbeing service. Empathetic BACP (British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists) trained counsellors are available 24/7 to speak to you about your concerns and offer you support.