Teacher laughing with pupil

A new teacher's survival guide

You’re standing alone at the front, frozen to the spot in absolute fear as the horde comes racing towards you with wild, waving arms and maniacal grins, their collective battle cry audible for miles and miles. You grab the nearest weapon to you – a sock puppet – and attempt to counter their merciless attack with a garbled story in a high-pitched voice, but it’s not enough. You close your eyes and wait for the inevitable…

You may not have had this exact nightmare, but you’ll undoubtedly have had some form of anxiety-based dream before your first term as a newly qualified teacher. It’s perfectly natural to be a little nervous on your first day, but with our top 5 survival guide tips you’ll be ready for anything.

Well, almost anything.

#1 Make an in-case-of-emergency drawer/box/cupboard.

A lot can happen in a classroom full of children. Although you can’t prepare for absolutely everything, you can try and prepare for most things by putting together a little kit of useful things. We suggest collating some toiletries, spare clothes, stationery, snacks…and extra birthday cards.

#2 Make a note of all parent/guardian contact.

It might be a rather laborious task, but you’ll be incredibly grateful to your past self for logging each conversation you have with your students’ parents and guardians. Use a notebook to jot down the date, the name of the parent or guardian and a few short notes to remind you what was said. It will help you out tremendously in the long-run.

#3 Maintain a strict work/life balance.

As a teacher it’s easy to spend your evenings and weekends working. There’s always more you could be doing, but from the first day of term you need to set up strict working boundaries to ensure you don’t burn yourself out. Your students need an energised, passionate teacher, not an overworked, overtired one with a thoroughly detailed lesson plan.

#4 Practice positivity.

You will have to deal with criticism and tense conversations throughout your teaching career. Don’t take them to heart – parents and guardians will always feel protective and emotional when it comes to their children. To keep a cool head, rehearse some responses you could give during a stressful situation, such as, “I’ve taken everything you’ve said on board and will get back to you soon.” Distance and time is the best medicine in these scenarios.

#5 Don’t compare the start of your career with the middle of someone else’s.

Teaching is a continual educational experience for you as much as it is for the students. For example, a technique that works amazingly with one class might do nothing for another, so be prepared to adapt and relearn everything you think you know about teaching. The only way you can do this and fully embrace the experience is to focus on what you’re doing and look ahead, not around you. Of course taking tips and advice from the faculty is a great way to learn, but don’t compare yourself with someone who has twenty years of teaching experience under their belt.


For more advice or to discover the latest roles at Career Teachers, contact our consultants today.

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