The lowdown: what new teachers really need to know

Dear new teachers,

I wanted to give you some practical advice of how to stay sane and get through your first year. It won’t be easy, you will be very tired, sick of the sight of lesson plans and feel like you are turning into someone else but the points I have outlined below are for you to remember what’s important. 

Look out for:

– Embarrassing team building situations 

‘Oh, hello, my name is … and an interesting thing about me is that I make my own jam. Now let’s go round the table and all introduce ourselves. That way we can get to know each other.’ 

Although this is a good way to identify people you don’t want to hang out with, for an over thinker like me this question used to be hell. What qualifies as interesting to me is not the same to you. I bloody hate this question and it does not lighten the mood, it only makes it awkward. For god’s sake we are British, please, instead let’s not learn each other’s names properly and spend the rest of the year trying to avoid using the name we don’t know. It’s just natural. Stop forcing it, you over enthusiastic trainers.

– The confidential bitch session. 

So your trainer or course leader (or whatever you call them) says it would be constructive to have a group vent, get those problems ‘out there’ and work through them together. 

Therapeutic huh? And totally private? 


No one’s keeping anything to themselves, you have just dished up a serving of juicy goss – that is going straight to the staff room my friend, and the person who you were complaining about will get to hear it. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say to someone’s face. Teachers love to spread dirt, stay out of it, you are a trainee, keep your nose clean. 


– Being made someone’s bitch

Some teachers, normally a bit older look for a bright young thing to capture, try and impress them with their experience and get them to do their dirty work for them. Beware the head of department, who you share a class with, who thinks that you should do the planning for the 4/8 lessons that she/he has with them for ‘continuity’s sake’. After that you can do some displays – ‘such great practice for you’ and how about marking his/her class’ coursework – ‘that will certainly give you evidence for blah blah standard.’ 

Get lost! 

You are no one’s bitch, make it clear. 

You’ve got your own shit going on this year and no one’s treating you like their dogs body.

– Teacher breath

You probably know about this one already from your own school days. The thing is loads of teachers seem to have forgotten those terrible times where they were on the end of a teacher’s foul exhalations. 

You can not fall victim to this disease. 

Coffee is the problem, teachers LOVE coffee, they endlessly drink it and that’s fine but GET SOME MINTS! 

Be paranoid about it at all times, check, otherwise you may kill children with your poisonous gases. 


– Meetings

Now I know this can seem intimidating at first, you feel a bit overwhelmed and probably don’t think your ideas are good enough but teaching only evolves because of people new to the profession rocking up and making alternative suggestions. Teaching (and dull meetings) need fresh blood and you are the answer.

If anyone says anything crappy about something you have inputted they are a dick and feel totally threatened. They need to get over it. 

– Chats

Although it seems unlikely, teaching can be a lonely profession. It is all too easy to be trapped in your room, using break times to prepare for the next lesson but you must get out and talk to other human beings, otherwise you will go insane and probably become more like the kids you are teaching than you want to. 

Try not to talk about teaching at these times either, anything else is good, it’s natural to have a talk about work but teachers love to whinge and when you start joining in as well conversation will, inadvertently, start to become negative. 

Make happy times instead, have a laugh! Find the ridiculous in the crap lesson you just had, you’ve got to keep your spirits up, otherwise you’ll start to dread coming in. 

You are entering into a fantastic profession but you have to look after yourself properly to be able to enjoy it properly. 

Good luck!


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