In those first weeks of starting your training you’ll only be teaching a few lessons and keeping on top of writing lesson plans and reflecting on your teaching practice will be relatively straightforward and not all that time consuming. However by the time March swings round and you are 6 months in, it’s a different story; with 15 or more lessons a week to plan and teach and all the responsibilities of a regular class teacher (think assessments, marking, homework…), you’ll be wishing that you put the time in to keep on top of things from the start. Getting into a routine early also means it can feel a lot less stressful later on in the game.
2. Get to know your classes – make that extra effort
For me this has been the single most valuable string in my teaching bow. Make a seating plan or ask the class teacher if they already have one and learn those names! Find out which pupils might need extra support, or those who might need additional challenges. Not only will this help you to plan engaging lessons which support all pupils to progress in their understanding and learning, it will allow you to quickly adapt teaching or information to support your class. By greeting your pupils in the hallway and engaging with them you are showing them that you have a genuine interest in their wellbeing and this will speed up your ability to develop a strong relationship with them, in turn allowing you to develop into an outstanding teacher.
3. The topic all student teachers worry about…
How will I manage behaviour? Read point two again… knowing your pupils and using their names to manage classes is the first step in effective behaviour management. It’s very hard to call out pupils who consistently talk or disrupt lessons if you don’t know their names. Don’t forget though, that the names of the pupils who consistently behave and work well are also important. Praising positive attitudes in the classroom is just as important as disciplining negative ones, and will ultimately help you to manage the behaviour of your pupils.
4. Just keep smiling, smiling, smiling
You’ll soon find that your mood will swiftly become the theme for the atmosphere of the lesson. No matter how rubbish your morning has been, how tired you are or how many books you know are waiting for you to mark, you’ve got to keep that cheery face on and the positivity flowing. Pupils seem to have a sixth sense, so if they can feel that you aren’t on top it’s often hard for them to be on top. So greet them with a smile and a good morning, ask them if they are ok. It really can make the difference between an awful lesson and outstanding lesson.
5. Look ahead: planning
Planning from day to day is fine and this is how you’ll roll in the first weeks but quickly adapting, to plan weeks and then months ahead will be crucial in reducing your workload and getting a handle on where your pupils are at. Developing your own schemes of work (SOW) – a plan for 10-12 lessons which follow a certain topic or theme – will allow you to plan materials which support your pupils’ natural progression through a topic and enable you to get an overview of what your objective and outcomes are with regards to their progress and learning.
6. SOW, SEN, WWW, EBI, SPaG….
Acronyms… teachers love them. A cursory glance on Google revealed that there are just over a 100 different terms or phrases related to teaching which use abbreviations. Scheme of work becomes (SOW), Special Educational Needs (SEN), what went well (WWW) or even better if (EBI) and don’t forget that when correcting spelling, punctuation and grammar that it’s really all about SPaG! Whilst it might seem daunting you’ll learn them as you go along, and by the end of your training year you’ll definitely be ‘au fait’ with knowing your SCITT from your ITT and your WILF from your WALT!
7. Love your subject
It may seem obvious, you’ve chosen to teach your subject. You’ve probably studied it at University and A-Level. You love your subject. So let your pupils know that. Use your knowledge and personal experience to bring the subject to life. Something you’re not interested in? Don’t let them know that. Being a teacher is part actor, part door to door sales. Sell your subject to your pupils with your own enthusiasm and watch the sales (results) come rolling in!
8. Tweet, tweet, tweet…
I’ll admit, I was a sceptic. Twitter, how can that help me to develop my teaching? But apparently Twitter is the place to be if you are a teacher. Set up an account (making sure to take all the usual security precautions) and off you go. Depending on your subject, start by following relevant blogs, news outlets, and organisations. Twitter will suggest other people for you to follow as you go along but there are hundreds if not thousands of other educators out there sharing innovative and creative teaching materials and ideas. Some of my best teaching activities and ideas have stemmed from an idea I found on twitter. It’s also a great opportunity to showcase and share your own materials! Who knows your first job might come from something you shared on Twitter!
Hannah Londorf is a geography School Direct trainee teacher at the Associated Merseyside Partnership SCITT.