Every year when teachers qualify, they are thrown into the classroom environment and have to face a new set of students – sometimes controlling the classroom on their own for the very first time. It can be a difficult and stressful experience!
There is always a steep learning curve when you are starting your new teaching job. But it gets better with time. Even though the classroom might seem like a scary place to begin with, you will get better at managing students and the heavy workload that comes with being a teacher. One day, something that would have sent you into a blind panic, will barely even fluster you.
However, the more prepared you are the better, so we’ve made a list of the most common challenges you’ll face as a newly qualified teacher in your probation year.
Managing The Workload
Teachers’ workloads are notoriously large. However, every teacher will get planning and preparation time to allow you to do lesson plans, grade assessments and essays, and organise your workload. You need to have excellent time management skills and use that time wisely to stay ahead.
There are some ways you can streamline things to make it easier for yourself. Things like, using stamps for marking homework and providing feedback instead of writing it out each time. Pupils always love getting a stamp that says ‘good job!’ Or was that just me?
Remember, any lesson plans you do right now could also save your time next year as well. So while the first year seems like a lot, you’re planning everything new for the first time, it’s going to be overwhelming. Every year, it’ll get easier the more experience you have behind you.
Getting a Good Work Life Balance
When you’re a newly qualified teacher, you might feel like all your days are melting into each other with no time for a social life. That’s completely normal. Again, it gets easier. You can catch up with people during the holidays.
At first, you’ll find yourself with lots of late nights and early mornings and feel like work is taking over your life. It’s crucial during this period to not allow yourself to get too burned out. Take some time for yourself, whether that’s going out for a few drinks on a Friday night, meeting up with friends for lunch, or going for a long walk to clear your head.
You’ll be able to tackle your workload feeling more energised and refreshed if you take regular breaks.
Handling Students Families
This comes in two forms. One, you’ll have to manage parents who want to get too involved in their kids’ school work. It happens. While you might flounder with an overbearing parent who is blaming you for their child not doing as well as they should be in school in year one, by year five it’ll be a breeze.
It’s all about being diplomatic, and laying out the student’s responsibilities to their parents.
However, you also may work with pupils who come from difficult family backgrounds, and depending on your prior experience with this it can be a shock and difficult to deal with. You need to remember your role as a teacher, and not overstep any boundaries.
Safeguarding is the most important factor, you can’t do anything about it even if you have suspicions unless the student opens up to you. Then you can follow the process. Always seek guidance from your mentor if you’re unsure about anything.
Managing Student Behaviour
Students can be unpredictable. Sometimes you’ll be working with people who act out on purpose to get a reaction out of you, and you have to keep calm and discipline appropriately. There are stringent procedures for disciplining children at school now, and you cannot act out of line yourself.
Understand each student’s different learning styles and ensure your lessons encompass all of them so that no children are left feeling bored – they’ll be more likely to act out then.
Schools are rife with bullying, and some handle it better than others. While most schools say they have a zero tolerance policy for bullying, some don’t always put it into practice. Familiarise yourself with the schools approach to bullying, and if you don’t like how they are dealing with it, you should consider moving to a school that aligns with your values. You can use a teaching recruitment agency to support you in finding a job that matches your personality better.
As for working with the pupils, always listen, and report any bullying you witness. You’re there to support the kids, but don’t take too much onto your plate and get burdened with it all.