Keeping Control In Your First Year A New Teacher's Toolbox

Created for you by Juliette Bentley


Whilst many of us loved immersing ourselves in the world of Hogwarts, I doubt we ever thought our chosen profession and vocation might be almost as perilous as it was for the teaching staff there! While we might not have to deal with ogres, dementors, boggarts, werewolves and Voldemort, we do have our own set of challenges and this site aims to help new and returning teachers to navigate some of them.

I can promise you that not all doors have horrors behind them

and there are always mentors ready to help.

Sometimes we are our own worst enemy. We not only judge ourselves by our ability to meet the public's expectations of us BUT we also judge ourselves by presumed expectations ascribed to more experienced teachers. Neither is a particularly helpful lens to measure ourselves through. Our more experienced colleagues are too busy in their own day to necessarily make those judgments and are only to willing to help where they can once they know that we are looking for guidance.

Self Care

Self care is essential for all teachers, particularly new teachers. Start each day as gently as you can. Do not allow stress to build. Ask for help where you feel most comfortable and be gentle with yourself. You are human, not a machine and it is that humanity that your students need most. Be your own best friend and advocate. Just as you would advise your students to eat, sleep and take time with family, you must as well. Your family and friends are your Ron, Neville, Hermione, Hagrid and Dumbledore. We have all known the exhaustion that comes from meeting the needs of dozens of students, let alone the many administration duties that we have to cover. Don't be surprised that you need to sleep many afternoons. I don't know a teacher who didn't do the same.

Mindfulness can save your sanity.

Give yourself a break on occasion by using a mindfulness activity to settle your class. You can use any on my mindfulness page by clicking the button below, or alternately by making your own using Adobe Spark.

Tip 1: Choose one skill to work on in each term.

Identify one area that you recognise needs development. Watch those around you and see what works for them. Simple things like using digital tools that self-mark and spreadsheet results, can save hours of checking homework. Using One Note class notebooks makes accessing student work a lot easier and gives you evidence of effort to show parents during parent teacher interviews.

Tip 2: Collaboration is a key.

Do not reinvent the wheel. Take what your colleagues offer in the way of advice and resources but tailor them to suit your teaching style. Just make sure that you acknowledge them as your sources.

Tip 3: Be prepared to embrace the place of productive failure in the classroom and staff room

Build resilience and an appreciation of the place of productive failure in developing new understandings. By modeling flexibility to your students you are teaching them that being adaptable is a good quality to have. Often new teachers become stressed because they don't get through their lesson plan; some rush through the content in order to tick that particular box of completion. All teachers have begun with the same trepidation and stress. Understand that discerning key points and focusing on them, allowing time for reflection and consolidation, works more effectively than delivering a very teacher focused content heavy lesson. We need to model that failure begets learning. Articulating the process can be really useful here. This is one place I use Microsoft Snip.

Tip 4: Behaviour management

Behaviour management is one area that new teachers frequently worry about. Consistency is your key. Understand the contributing factors and managing them is essential for your own peace of mind. Students can be reactive and as the adults, we need to ensure that we aren't. As new teachers it is easy to think that the bad behaviour is about us, a lack of respect or a personal challenge. The reality is often far from it. Most students acting out are doing so as a way of dealing with their lack of control over other aspects of their lives. Consistency, care but high expectations help to establish you as fair but a no nonsense adult. Know your school's behaviour policy and ask your year co-ordinators for background information on difficult students. They may be able to fill in the blanks for you. Differentiating your content presentation and assessment can sometimes help with the behavioural issues of some students because they don't feel so invisible. There will always be challenging students but frequently, humour, sharing a popular culture interest and a little of your own story can help pave the way to better communication. Learning the student's names quickly, can set the standard of connection.

Tip 5: Build a professional learning network

Professional Learning Networks are essential and fortunately we do have technology that allows us to access the expertise of other educators and leading specialists through platforms such as Twitter.

Sometimes we find ourselves in landscapes that do not have readily identifiable mentors. It is this dearth that makes external mentors so much more important. Access TED Talks. There are phenomenal educators with wonderful brief messages that both inspire, motivate and comfort teachers at every level of their career. My favourites are Sir Ken Robinson and Sugata Mitra who make me question and push myself to meet my student's needs creatively..


Tip 6: Use technology to make your job easier.

There are many tools which you can use and which you can get your students using, taking them from being consumers of your materials, to creators and participants in their own learning. There are a number of programs and platforms that can help you and the wheel below can help guide you toward the discerning use and relevance of technologies in your classroom. The buttons below are a few that I have found to be incredibly helpful and have saved me time.

Created By
Juliette Bentley


Created with images by Dave Catchpole - "The Making of Harry Potter" • Nivrae - "Harry Potter Studio Tour" • waldomiguez - "harry potter warner bros warner studio"

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