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What to expect as a first year teacher: advice from your peers

With Term 2 being one of the busiest of the year, newly appointed teachers are in for a hectic ride. Education Review asked experienced teachers to share not only what they wished they knew before starting the job but also some advice for young teachers to help navigate the school year.

Being a first year teacher is never an easy task and as much as university tries to prepare you for the job, nothing can substitute for classroom experience. Education Review spoke with five teachers and asked them what they wished they knew before entering the classroom. (To ensure anonymity, we have only use the speakers' first name).

Education Review gathered the thoughts of: Emily, a PE teacher who teaches seven classes from year 7 to 11; Sebastian, a high school drama teacher for years 9 to 12, who's in his fifth year of teaching; Jesse, a high school PE teacher with 10 years’ experience; Pamela, a principal of a public school; and Daniela, a former high school teacher and university lecturer with 20 years’ experience.

Administrative work will take up most of your time

“Teaching was the easiest part! Admin and other teachers take up the majority of your time.” (Emily)

“Admin and extras (different teams around the college) takes up the majority of your workload, so make sure you prioritise your planning time and focus on what you need to do.”

“The work never ends unless you let it end. Ask those around you for support and make sure you laugh it off at the end of the day.” (Sebastian)

Plan your lesson but don’t sweat over it

“The best lessons are planned. It doesn’t have to be a 6 page lesson plan, but never walk in blind. Have fun in your lessons, remember the teachers that inspired you and be like them.” (Sebastian)

“Arrive at school early to ensure you are up to date with students' needs.” (Emily)

“Learn various teaching software to make teaching easier and more efficient.”

“The classroom is yours. Collaborate together, however the delivery method is yours – do not lose touch with your creative and innovative ideas.” (Pamela)

Plan your lesson but also your career

“I wish I knew how important it was to plan forward in my career. How valuable each experience and task can be to equip myself in becoming a better teacher and leader. Taking part in a wider variety of leadership opportunities to increase my skill base at an earlier stage of my career.” (Jesse)

“Find a mentor to support you on your journey.” (Pamela)

“The process of accreditation is difficult: plan ahead.” (Emily)

Relationships are key

“Relationships with students, teachers and parents will assist all teachers in achieving the best possible classroom climate and assist students meet and exceed learning outcomes.” (Jesse)

“Relationships with students will ensure they strive to work at their best. Relationships with parents will provide support and encouragement at home. And relationships with teachers will support you and help teachers regularly reflect on their practice.”

“Remember what matters most – connecting with the students, not a beautifully decorated lesson plan.” (Daniela)

“The social and emotional wellbeing of each child needs to be prioritised before the academic aspects of school are implemented.” (Pamela)

Prioritise your mental health

“Do not surrender your work/life balance. Your voice is important too.” (Pamela)

“Don’t take it all so personally – it's not me versus them. Don’t sweat the small stuff.” (Daniela)

“Not everything is important – some things can wait. Teaching is a marathon not a sprint – slow down.” (Daniela)

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