This post is a year in the making. As soon as I started my new job in September 2013, I vowed that if I survived the first year at King’s, I would write and share some guidance that may prove helpful for any teacher brave enough to break the shackles of their comfort zone, and take on a new position in a different school. Therefore, throughout the year I made notes on my iPhone observing things I did right and perhaps more usefully, things I did wrong; hopefully it won’t be just me who learns from my mistakes…
Let’s establish some context first. My first year at King’s was my ninth year teaching. The first three years were spent at St Pancras Primary School in Lewes. Leaving the South Coast was one of the hardest things I ever did, but I knew to expand my experience and develop my career, a change was required. And change is what I did… I jumped into my battered old VW Golf and set off down to the South of France to take a Year Six teaching position at the International School of Monaco! Five awesome years in Monte Carlo flew by and then I was fortunate enough to be offered my current role.
Anyway – these are the notes I took, I hope they are of some use:
The fact you got a new job suggests that what you have already done has been pretty good! Assuming you were yourself in the interview – that also means that the SLT want you to work for them. I found this particularly difficult but give it time and you’ll be able to let your personality shine through.
Kids thrive off positivity. They learn better knowing that you actually want to be there (Even if you don’t!) Making learning fun in the classroom is such a huge step towards success.
BE TOUGH BUT FAIR
Reputations quickly develop at school, you need to make sure yours is a good one, otherwise it can take a while to shake off. I was certainly not tough enough to start with; partly because I was so used to not having to be particularly tough in my old job – one of the attraction of the aforementioned comfort zone! You have to remember that pupils don’t have any preconceptions, negative OR positive of you – therefore first impressions count.
The best way to get a great reputation is simply to be a great teacher. The more that goes into planning and preparation, the better your lessons will be. In one year group, I tried a no-planning approach to see what would develop organically – bad idea…
LEARN PUPILS NAME
This may sound obvious but it should be an absolute priority. I had 250 names to learn in September and should have made more of an effort to do this quicker. Knowing names helps to build positive relationships and certainly helps in terms of behavioural management.
BE POLITE, PUNCTUAL AND MINDFUL OF OTHER STAFF
Finally, take time to get used to your new surroundings. Every school is completely different, each with its own idiosyncrasies, take time to learn how things work and see how best you can compliment what already goes on.
If you are embarking on a new job, then I wholeheartedly wish you the very best of luck.