The Four Things You Should Worry About As A New Teacher

Don’t panic! I’m not telling you you have to go giving yourself an anxiety disorder over these things or you won’t succeed. This post is meant as a redirect for your attention, so that you know exactly what you need to be getting right at the beginning of your career, and you’re not wasting your energy on things that turn out not to matter.

Below are the aspects of teaching I wish I knew were going to be important, but that I only learned about with experience.

There’s two ways in which relationships are super important in teaching – one is the networking aspect present in any job, where you will need to build trust from your colleagues, and the other is the relationships you have with your students.

The reason the same behaviour management technique might work for one teacher and not the other is because of relationships. You need to spend time perfecting the teacher-student relationship so that when it comes time to manage behaviour, you are actually relying on that relationship to make it work, not the technique itself.

It’s also very easy to get so bogged down in work that you don’t even want to talk to colleagues and managers because you’re just too busy. Building a relationship with your peers so that they trust you to do a good job is very very important in teaching, and you can’t afford to cut it out. So is wider professional networking.

If, like me, you got into education to avoid all that businessy networking fakery, then you need to rethink this, because actually it’s present in every single job you could possibly dream of. You need to find a way to carry this out without selling your soul to the kiss arse devil.

Performance Management
Your performance is everything in teaching, and it will be measured every 5 minutes, and scrutinised in the most minute detail. Losing your job for poor performance is very easy to accomplish in this career sector, and you should be concerned with how management are viewing your performance at all times.

It’s not just observations either, it’s your results, any student voice type questionnaires, any stink that’s been kicked up by parents complaining, what your previous placements have said about you, how good your schemes of work are, and probably a few extra things that are specific to your school only. You need to get to know all of them, and then get to know how to look good on all of them.

Note I just said look good, instead of be good. In order to be good in all of those you would have to be 20 people. Your performance management will all be about proof – can you prove you are doing good, and can management prove you are doing bad? Start building your alibis up now.

If you’re not getting the support you need, for example, if your mentor is skipping on meetings or you’re teaching more than a 90% timetable, then it’s up to you to do something about it. There’s no consequences for the people scrimping on your support, in fact, it’s better for them because they’ve then got more time to get their own stuff done. The consequences will all be on you, and it’ll be your career ruined.

Some new teachers feel like they can’t start telling their mentor how to do their job when they are brand new themselves, or are worried they will rock the boat by not just getting their head down and getting on with it. You can’t think like that, and you need to find a way to express that you’re not being supported in a professional way.

‘Off the Record’ Observations
Your performance will be managed, not just on the formal procedures mentioned above, but also by several off the record means. You need to be prepared for this, and get your house in good order before anything is spotted.

In addition to references, your head will probably speak on the phone about you too, where anything can be said, so make sure you leave a good impression wherever you go, as far as you can. Your social media accounts will also be checked out, so get rid of anything that might give the impression that you’re not a pillar of the community.

Also be prepared for students being canvassed for their opinion of you, informally, and for members of SMT suddenly bursting in on your lesson on seemingly unrelated business.

Some of this might sound pretty scary, but it’s only the truth. Better you know about it and can be prepared for it, than it bite you in the bum unawares halfway through your NQT year. If you want to know more about any of these, then send me an email, and I’d be happy to tell you about my own experiences and those of the many teachers I’ve spoken to about similar issues, if it will help. 

Are you about to start your first post and want to talk? Email me or comment below.


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