1. Expect to be tired. Very. Very. Tired. Schedule out the last Friday before October half term as nap time [post wine-time obviously]. You’ll need it.
2. Expect to have to fight to get your voice heard sometimes. Yes you’ve had this solid, current training and your brain is full of innovative, fun, new ideas for how you’re going to teach your kids. But your school has been there a lot longer than you. Staff there have been teaching a lot longer than you. Even if you’re working in a friendly, supportive school, expect your ideas to get squashed in favour of “this is how we’ve always done it here and it works”. Often. But don’t worry, you’ll soon figure out when it’s right to put your foot down.
3. Accept school politics. You’re going to have to learn how the political system in your school works. And yes, every school has one, no matter how ‘rainbows and butterflies’ it seems on your interview day. Don’t be surprised to find cliques in the staffroom. Don’t be surprised to hear staff talking openly about other staff. Keep your head down and don’t get involved in the drama. Rant about school life to people outside of school.
4. Make an effort. Say yes to the after work drinks once in a while, no matter how loudly your bed is calling you. Go to the Christmas party. Get involved in the team World Book Day fancy dress theme. Ask your colleagues if they want a drink on your way to getting your own tea/coffee/life-saving beverage. Be a nice human – say ‘good morning’. You’ll be surprised. I’ve worked at schools where fellow staff will literally blank you one minute and then try to be your best friend the next. Nobody likes people like that. Don’t be like that. Be nice.
5. There will be some very bad days. No matter how meticulous, engaging, differentiated, and amazing your lesson plan is, sometimes it just will not go the way you wanted it to. The kids just won’t be having it one day. Try again the next. Sometimes there’s just something in the air and the kids get all funny. They’ll get over it and so will you.
6. The days when your lessons go perfectly, are the best days. It’s all about them. It’s always about them. They are the reason you get up and walk through the building. Don’t lose sight of that.
7. Take supplements. You will be ill. A lot. Oh, and top up on the hand sanitizer. You’ll be needing a lot of that too.
8. Parents can be a challenge. If you work in a primary school, you may have parent contact every morning and at the end of every day. You’ll soon figure out which parents to avoid making eye-contact with (saving you a 20minute conversation). Don’t be afraid to call in your year group leader to be there when you need to have a difficult conversation with a parent. Get to know the parents at the beginning of the school year. Be nice to them. Tell them about the small achievements their child may have made that day. Tell them you can see the benefits of them practicing times tables with their child at home. The more you understand the parents, the better you’ll understand the child’s lifestyle and sometimes this can explain a lot in the classroom.
9. Fun outstanding lessons > data. You know your kids. A statistic is never an accurate, wholesome reflection of a child. Don’t get sucked into it. You’ll have to input data. Regularly. Just don’t let it overcome your lessons and never let it affect a child.
10. You are new. You have a fresh outlook on what it means to be a teacher. You have value. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.