10 Top tips for Early Career Teachers
Here at Cosy, we recognise that it’s an exciting time for Early Career Teachers (ECTs) as they embark on their new roles. However, we also understand that it can be a time of apprehension and stress – we know you want to do your best. Being nervous is entirely normal. With this in mind, we’ve put together 10 top tips for Early Career Teachers.
- Build relationships and connections with those around you. They will become your support network within the school environment so embrace their knowledge and experience of the school. Ask for help if you need it! Remember that every other teacher in the school has been in your position so will know exactly how you’re feeling.
- Take care of yourself! There will be times when it might become overwhelming so you need to find time to relax and unwind at the end of the day. The children need you at your best and what good are you when you’re burnt out? Make time in your day to do something for you that you enjoy – this could be a hot bath, a swim at the pool, gym session or an evening walk. These moments in your day are what you will begin to look forward to and will help you prioritise yourself and your wellbeing. Ensure you’re eating properly and getting enough sleep as not doing so will impact on your mood and concentration.
- Don’t be hard on yourself if you feel like you’ve had a bad day. Know that you’re doing your best, you’re learning on the job and there will always be room for improvement. Take everything in your stride as being part of your professional development.
- Ensure you’re familiar with the policies and procedures of the school so you’re prepared for any eventuality. This will help reassure you that you know what to do should a particular situation arise. It is especially important that you have read and understood the school safeguarding policy.
- It can be tempting to introduce lots of incentives at the start of the year. However, ask yourself whether these are necessary and if you’re able to keep up with them throughout the year. If you start off with a ‘reader of the week’, be aware that the children will be expecting a reader of the week every week, even when you’re under pressure with other things. Make sure it’s manageable and achievable.
- Make the most of any professional development opportunities offered to you. These will help build your knowledge but also your confidence. You can take this learning back to the classroom, trying out strategies and reflecting on their effectiveness. Take control of your own professional development too, recognising that it is more than formal, face to face learning opportunities. Engage with books, blogs, webinars and online conferences as a way to develop your skills.
- Get to know the children’s names as early on as you can. If you’re struggling, think of ways to help – alliteration or rhyming is good for this. Perhaps Poppy wears pig tails or Sam likes Spiderman! Knowing names will help you gain their attention when you need it and helps children feel safe and happy in the classroom.
- Connect with other ECTs and experienced teachers. Twitter is a good way of building up a professional learning network which you can use to magpie ideas, reach out for support and share good practice. There are some amazing educators on the platform who are happy to help and advise. Why not give us a follow too?!
- Make your classroom the learning space for your children as you move through the year. It can be difficult taking over a classroom of another teacher but you need to own it. Think about how the children are using the space, what they see from their seats, how the displays reflect the children in the class and don’t be afraid to make changes.
- Build good links with families from the outset, making time to introduce yourself. It’s a big thing for parents and carers to hand over their child to you but they can feel reassured by knowing you’re friendly and approachable. Think about how you can strengthen these links over the year by reflecting on what other teachers in the school do. Perhaps postcards or telephone calls home, making yourself visible at the end of the school day, or making time to speak to families at school events.
We have spoken to our experienced Cosy Club teachers and came up with a list of advice and quick tips for NQT / ECTs. From dealing with workload to challenging behaviour, we explore some of these below.
- Always be consistent
- Make classroom rules visible
- Have a classroom reward system
- Self-care: make time for yourself and your hobbies - music, walking, meeting up with friends.
- Celebrate the small things
- Treat yourself to a new A4 size diary that has lots of space for notes. It will be invaluable! Take your note pad everywhere with you because information, routines and planning will come from all angles.
- Be on top of any SEN and EAL children. Any allergies and medical needs, safeguarding issues, difficult parents or carers and how to handle them.
- Find out about the schools Maths and Phonics schemes
- Have a class mascot - teddy on tour with diary (covid permitting)
- Wet paper towels can heal all manor of ailments and mop up unsightly spilages!
- Stock up on post-it notes and your own set of stationery
- Have a stash of rewards - magic pencils, rulers, stickers, stamps
Let us know how you feel and which tips are your faves. @cosydirect #CosyDirectTips