First in a series of articles designed to make life easier for new teachers and student teachers. This information is firmly grounded in classroom experience and gives advice where others fear to tread.
Most teachers make many mistakes in the early years of their careers. The majority of these mistakes, in hindsight, are avoidable. This series of articles is written with the experience of many years' teaching in mind. I hope it can help you to avoid some of the common mistakes made by new teachers, including those that I made myself.
Teaching is an emotionally satisfying career, but an extremely stressful one. By following the advice given here, you can reduce the stress and hopefully manage it more easily. Some of the advice applies mainly to the first few weeks in a job, where the children are looking for weaknesses and before you have established yourself. The advice on Dress Code is one example, where once established you will be able to dress in a less formal manner.
Hopefully, this book can help more teachers to succeed that much sooner and help to reduce the loss of so many valuable newly trained teachers to the profession.
You will need your own car. Public transport is not a good way of travelling to school. Unless you live very close to the school there will be no direct bus route. If there are easy transport links to the school you can expect to be travelling with the children you teach. This often creates problems. Using public transport means that your day will be considerably longer too. Having to use a rail service with hourly trains may mean having to arrive in school before 8am and not leaving until 4.30pm.
In the short term, you may be able to arrange a lift with a colleague who happens to live nearby, but this becomes progressively less convenient when you have to arrange your domestic routine around the school and domestic commitments of your driver colleague.
You will almost certainly work for a month before you are paid. Most schools have a set date for paying their teachers. If you are lucky it will be the 20th of the month, but it is far more likely to be the 28th. You will have lost eligibility for Unemployment Benefit and Social Security payments on the day you started work, but you will have to live for a month on nothing but fresh air and loans from parents, friends, the bank or those wonderful credit cards. Arrange your applications for credit cards, overdrafts and loans in advance - you are going to need them.
Be sure to inform your employers of any previous employment. Some schools will give you incremental credit for your employment prior to teaching, even if it was many years ago. This is particularly important for mature entrants to the profession.
Join a union, or professional association as they are sometimes called in teaching. This gives you cover in the event of malicious allegations or assault by pupils. It is probably a good idea to join all the unions as a student, when they are free, then to choose one for paid membership depending on the relative strengths of the unions in your school.