A few months ago I wrote an article about what I learned in my first two years of teaching. With many students completing their university studies and venturing out into the wide-world of job applications, registration, and casual teaching, I thought it was an opportune time to update my list.
- Work out what sort of teacher you want to be. Realistically you should have thought about this by now, but in case you haven’t really take time to consider what are your core values as a teacher. Many schools will ask for a statement of educational philosophy as part of their job application process, but even if you don’t encounter this it is wise to write one. Some points to consider are: what motivates you as a teacher? What do you want your students to ‘look like’ at the end of the year? What do you hope they will learn? How will you achieve this? and so forth
- In the desperation to secure employment it can be tempting to apply for every job you see advertised. However, I urge you to consider a few things before applying to a school. Firstly, can you see yourself working there? Can you see yourself living where ever the school is located? If not how long is the commute/are you prepared for this? Does the school’s values align with your own. Some schools take uniform policies very seriously: if you don’t give two hoots what kids wear perhaps this isn’t the school for you. Likewise, some schools have very conservative religious values and expect that you will conduct yourself according to these values. If you can’t do so, don’t apply.
- With point (2) in mind, don’t turn your nose up at schools in the hope that you’ll get a job at your ‘dream school.’ In MOST circumstances the preference is to be in regular (although not necessarily full-time) employment.
- Be prepared to teach casually for a while. It’s not necessarily a bad thing: you can learn a lot casual teaching and you’ll interact with many more students and teach a wider range of classes. The downside is that you don’t have the opportunity to build rapport or routine with a specific class and casual teaching can be unreliable financially.
- Part-time jobs are a GREAT option for first-year teachers. Whilst some schools have a policy of putting beginning teachers on a 0.8FTE load not all schools have this policy. Make sure you know where you stand with respect to this before signing your contract.
- Most schools/diocese have an ‘unofficial’ policy of not offering permanency to teachers straight out of uni. I have had friends offered permanency within their first semester of teaching. Other friends (and myself) have gone from contract to contract.
- Don’t stop learning just because uni has finished. Continue reading on a range of educational fields and topics and try and apply some (not all) of this to your professional practice. Reading educational blogs can give you some great ideas, or if you’re a bit nerdier (like me) you might even like a read of some journal articles.
- Join a professional organisation. I joined the Queensland Association of Mathematics Teachers (QAMT) in my first year of teaching and this was an invaluable experience. I attended some of their events and annual conference which was excellent for picking up some ideas and brilliant for networking. In particular, I met some great, young teachers who were able to give me some excellent advice as a beginning teacher. It was great to share thoughts with teachers that had recently been in a similar position to me, as many of the maths teachers I had met were significantly ‘more experienced.’ Membership of professional organisations is tax-deductible and they usually send out journals quarterly.
So at the risk of being long-winded I’ll cap my tips at eight. It’s been a long time between drinks for this blog! I’m hoping to get back into the routine of posting more regularly soon. I lost a lot of motivation following my confirmation of candidature, but I recently received ethics approval and am in the process of making some changes to my supervision and this has left me somewhat rejuvenated! I’ll just have to think of some more things to write about…