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Essential New Teacher Priorities

Updated: Oct 21, 2021

I talk a lot about teacher tips but the three things listed below are not necessarily three tips but three priorities that you need to consider when you're going back to school, as a new teacher or early career teacher.

As I've been teaching now for five years (time really flies)I was thinking the other day about some of the things that I've really developed with and things that I now do well, one of the things that are my number one priority, and one of the things I think should be your number one priority.

Talking to people

When I was in my NQT year, one of the mistakes I made was not talking to people early enough. I would keep things bottled up. I wasn't an open book. I would keep things closed. And, when things got a little bit too much, then the book would open and all of these words would come out. Now that's really challenging for mentors because it can be a bit overwhelming and they might not be quite sure what to do.

Thankfully, I did have phenomenal mentors and phenomenal leadership who really did support me with the journey of being a new teacher. However, that doesn't always happen and as a result, communicating early is essential.

For example, when I go back this year, this year, I've got a bit of a different class. It's not a class I'm used to. It's something that's going to be different. It's going to be challenging. I accept the challenge, (something we're going to get onto in a minute).

It has been a little bit of a worry in my mind. Now, what I would have done in the past is just kept it to myself. Nowadays, I speak to all of the relevant people that I need to speak to: The Year Leader, the SENCO, SLT, so that information is out there.

I've received lots of different advice and even though I have been teaching for five years, there is an element of pride of not wanting to talk to people because you're experienced, I did it.

I took a bit of a pride thing away from myself and I went to go and talk to people. This is something I would not have done as a new teacher, but it really did help.

It helped me feel comfortable and it also helped me feel quite prepared because that way I've got advice and knowledge in the forefront of my head, ready to go for the year ahead.

Don’t fear failure

There are going to be failures. I know myself, even though I've been teaching, like I said, for five years, that there are going to be times where I’m sat thinking ‘This is tough.’ or ‘That failed’.

It's going to happen even more when you consider taking risks. That's one of the things that I really think teachers need to do more and more is take risks in their own practice.

It's easy to become comfortable. Stick the stick to the plan; stick to things that are easy. Take those risks, and don't be afraid of failure because those things, those failures really help shape you as a teacher and help you get better.

Never stop learning.

You don't have to always pick up books about teaching. I really struggle with picking up books about teaching because I create lots of content about education and I spend a large amount of time at school. The last thing I want to do is pick up a book and read about teaching in school. That's not to say I don't, but it's not my favorite thing to do by any means.

One of the other things that are really beneficial is reading books that aren't related to teaching. I love reading non-fiction books at the moment. One of the books that I love reading is Never Split The Difference by Chris Voss. It's about an FBI negotiator and how to negotiate difficult situations. It is easy to say, ‘well, that's not going to be helpful at all, but it really is’. We make micro negotiations with children and other adults so much throughout the working week. It really is useful because you never know when there's going to be a challenging situation in class. It's easy to pick up books that are nonfiction and adapt them to school life.

You can also read books that aren't about school, but relate them to the education setting.

One of the other things you can do is, uh, watch my YouTube videos and other people's YouTube videos because there are all sorts of different free advice out there for teachers on YouTube

One more thing you can do to support yourself and continue learning goes back to talking to people. Go back to observing people, even though you're not a training teacher anymore, you may have extra time to go and see people teach as an ECT. Learn new practices, learn new little tricks, and other teacher habits. That will make you a better teacher than you will find helpful. All of those things will support you in becoming a better teacher.

So there are three priorities. The whole purpose of these blogs is just to help one person. If one paragraph within this blog has helped one person out there. That's my efforts worthwhile.

Feel free to check out other videos which are related to teacher tips and if you’re a trainee teacher, feel free to check out my guide for getting your first job.

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