New Graduates and Early Career Teachers

The reasons for becoming a teacher are varied. Everyone enters the profession with their own ideas on what it means to be a teacher and what they want to achieve. There are always those that strive for advancement, others like to find their niche to work within so they can focus on really inspiring students. Whatever your motivation, there are a few aspects of the profession that have the potential to end a career.

Be prepared for extra duties 

Be prepared to be overloaded.

Overworked Early Career Teachers

As more and more teachers are on contracts or temporary, it is becoming difficult to acquire a permanent position. With a resume that only shows experiences, many feel it is necessary to say yes to any opportunity that is offered. As a new teacher though, there’s something to be said for taking your time and learning your craft. There is no complete textbook on teaching, no step by step guide. A lesson that works with one group, will not work with another. You need to learn your limits and expectations, build your own presence and establish your own teaching persona. There is, however, the idea that new teachers are keen and want new roles and responsibilities. They want a bigger workload to “sink their teeth into”. This is often sprouted by the CV teacher – the one that is only focused on progression and needs a lackey to help them with their ideas. I was told early on, find the person who is aspiring to be more and hold onto their cape tails. I’ve since added to know when to let go before they fly into the sun. The CV teacher loves new recruits, but I often find there is only one name that makes it onto the final report.

When saying yes to any opportunity, always ask lots of questions, especially of those who may have been in the position before. In the early years your biggest focus is on teaching and classroom management, so make sure that whatever you agree to does not interfere with your classroom.

 

Easy Yes

A few positions that show commitment, but don’t require a lot, are ones that exist already. Peer Support, Mentoring, School Diary, taking a sporting team, Excursions, Camps, Federation Representative, Safety Coordinator, Female Liaison, Year Advisor, or anything where you are part of a team. Be cautious of any new concept, especially one based on research, that hasn’t been done before because that will require lots of planning, meetings, interviews etc. These opportunities can be very fulfilling, but they will have you regularly out of the classroom and increasing your home workload. Be selective and you will earn the respect of your peers.

 

How to say No

Reduce your workload

It is very easy to say yes to everything that is offered, especially when in a new school or on contract, but as stated above, yes can dramatically increase your workload and stress levels. I have seen it time and time again where a new teacher is on and in everything that they are asked, only to find that they become the go to for any job whether or not it benefits that particular teacher and their career path. If you decide that an opportunity is not for you, simply justify your No to show that you have a goal and this one is not for you. For example, you want to focus on incorporating student self reflection into your programs over the coming 6 months, rather than XYZ that is offered. Saying No, I just want to focus on teaching, may not be enough. Use your PDP to explain and justify your response. This will have a great impact in the long run as your Supervisors will see that you a) have a “backbone” and b) have a clear direction on your expectations as a teacher. It can lead to a better opportunity in the future that is more relevant to you.

 

Get out of your room

Building rapport with others will help

Classrooms can be wonderful cocoons to help little minds grow and develop, but it can be a place where teachers inspiration stagnates. Being in and out of your peer's classrooms can be an excellent way to see how to teach a topic or manage student behavior or undertake a different method. It is often beneficial to observe up or down a year group or academic level, and across KLA’s. In High School observing how a Science or PE or TAS teacher manages and provides feedback or how practical lessons are organized is totally different to Mathematics or English teachers. There is no need to stay for an entire lesson. 15 minutes should be enough. Choose your time – start, middle or end of the lesson depending on what your needs are. Another option is to have other teachers observe your lesson. Let the observer know what feedback you need – starting the lesson, questioning techniques, classroom management, or handling a certain student etc. Anything written can also be used as evidence in your PDP.

 

Remember, your career is all about changing the lives of each student as they enter your classroom, great you in the hallway, or see you on the playground. How you go about this journey is entirely yours, just be aware of some of the opportunities you are given.