Things you need to find out today:
- Staff absence What’s the procedure for setting cover work if you’re off sick? What exactly is expected of you? Find out now – it’s not the sort of thing you want to have to find out at 7 o’clock one morning. And who do you have to phone? You will probably have to ring two different people – put their numbers in your mobile
- Pupil absence What are pupils expected to do in your department after an absence? Do they have to do the homework they missed or not? Do they have to copy up? If you do what the others do in your department, you’re less likely to have pupils playing one teacher off against another!
Things you need to do today:
- Photocopying Avoiding last-minute photocopying will reduce a huge amount of stress you don’t need – photocopiers know when you’re in a hurry and they break down, jam, auto-reduce, auto-enlarge, print on the wrong colour paper on purpose. And always when you’ve been waiting in a queue and there’s an even longer one behind you. Do it before you go home the day before if you can.
- Getting to know the place Take a walk around the school to get your bearings, but only do one section a day.
- The team 5 people you really need to make friends with: the ICT technicians, reprographics, staff in the office, the caretaker and the cleaner. Schools break down without them.
- Pitching your lesson Think about how you can raise or lower the language or cognitive level of your lesson if you need to without changing the activity altogether – it’s very difficult to know how to pitch your first few lessons with a class, but it’s important that each time they leave they go away with the impression that you know what you’re doing.
- Behaviour Never let anything go – if behaviour’s not as you want it, insist. If it is, praise it highly! Then everyone knows where they stand. Remember, it will take a while to establish yourself.
- Homework timetable As soon as you can, get hold of a copy of the homework timetable and stick to it – if you depart from it, pupils will end up with too many subjects on one night and they won’t get what you wanted them to get out of doing the homework. It gets messy following it up, too. Of course, if you stick to the timetable and they don’t do it, that’s a different matter…
Things to think about:
- Keeping on top of things Never arrange to see a pupil without writing it in your diary while you’re still talking to them. You will definitely forget, double-book yourself, or both. The beginning of lunchtime may be better than the beginning of break – you need a pause during the morning, and it isn’t long.
- Testing you out Make sure by the end of the week that every class has seen your “thunder”! It doesn’t have to be over the top – the key is to be authoritative without being authoritarian – but firmness now means they won’t be curious later about how far they need to go to find the limits.
- Who’s the teacher? Don’t give too much choice to the class about what happens in the lesson. Your bearing needs to communicate that you are in charge, not them. You’re the professional, not them. Of course you will need to be sensitive to how things are going and make adjustments, but don’t get into the dynamic of trying lots of different things until you find what they like. It’s a game you will ALWAYS lose.
Forget about anything which hasn’t gone as you planned for the moment – what are you really pleased with so far?
Treat yourself tonight!! You’ve already worked harder than most people do in a week!
See you tomorrow!