I’ve received a number of messages over the last few days from teachers who have secured temporary or maternity leave positions over the midterm and will be starting their new roles next Monday. In this blogpost I’m going to share some tips/advice for starting in a new role and hopefully some ways to make things a bit easier!
Give yourself time to settle into your new role. Don’t rush to change things on the first day or during the first week. Spend time observing and getting to know the children during the first few days, look at the procedures and routines that are already set up and familiarise yourself with the classroom and the children you’ll be working with!
Don’t put yourself under too much pressure to be on top of everything in the first week. It takes time to get used to a new school, the way things are done, the children, other staff etc. Give yourself the first week or two to get used to your new surroundings.
Yes there may be some things that you’d prefer to do differently, and by all means you can change things but I find it’s much better to make small changes gradually. The children have worked with one teacher for the past 6 weeks and now have a new teacher – that is a big enough change rather than changing the way they do everything (especially for younger children). Once you are more familiar with the children, you can make small changes to the way things are done.
Teachers are by their nature helpful people. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – no matter how silly they may seem. Every school is different, and their are different ways of doing things in different schools – check with the teacher close by or ask in the staffroom. The NIPT message ‘To ask for support is a sign of strength!’ springs to mind and is definitely something to remember when you are starting in a new role. Sometimes teachers who start in new schools feel overwhelmed and don’t go to the staff room at lunch time – the staff room is a great place to get to know your colleagues and build up relationships so make sure to go to the staff room at break and lunch time and even if you feel terrified – SMILE!
Hopefully there will be some planning in place for the week after midterm. Many schools have school plans which detail the areas that you need to cover in each year group. Some schools divide these topics by month which can be helpful. For the first few days, have some getting to know you activities, get the children to write about their mid-term (this can be used as an assessment), a quick maths assessment based on some of the areas that the children have covered already this year (good to see where they are at). This will give you a good basis for the first few days. It could work well to choose a theme for the week – e.g. friendship, thanksgiving, winter and base your lessons around the theme.