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5 Tips When Navigating Teaching

Whether you’re doing your teacher training or have been a teacher for a number of years, Mr. B. (@historyguy7292) shares his top 5 tips for success and to avoid burnout.

Daniel Bull2 Class

1) Remember to take some time for you
The to-do list will always be there and working all the hours of the day, unfortunately, isn’t going to conquer it. As well as actually teaching children, you also have to plan other lessons, create those lessons, mark books, mark assignments, maintain data, and various other tasks outside of the classroom. It may feel never-ending and the pressure is always on you, but you need to take out some self-care time to avoid burnout.
Be pragmatic. Prioritise the things that need to be completed first and those that aren’t immediately needed can wait a day or two.
Taking time out for breaks, time with the family or just to watch a film will pay off in a calm and centered demeanour and a clear mind to face the challenges of the day.

2) Really get to know your students
Building a good rapport with your students will help you immensely with engagement and behaviour management.

Sharing appropriate stories from your own life, and class icebreakers are a good way to find out about your student’s interests. You can then take that information and revisit it later to show you’re taking an interest in their lives outside of school.

Show your sense of humour and your human side. It makes it easier if students want to be in your lessons and they feel valued.

3) Don’t compare yourself to others
This is relevant for all teachers from trainees to experienced members.

Each teacher is unique and on their own journey. They all have their own spin and use differing strategies to impart knowledge. By reflection, each class and cohort of students will bring its own challenges, rewards and personalities.

It’s normal to make a comparison and it’s normal to have those kinds of feelings. It’s just important to remember which stage of your career you’re at and that more experienced teachers will naturally have more experience to draw on. If you feel overwhelmed by another teacher’s performance turn it into a positive and use that teacher as a mentor to improve your own practice.

4) Be organised with your photocopying
If there’s one thing that’s going to upend your meticulously planned lesson, it’s not the fire alarm going off, or even the sight of a wasp swaggering in through the window. No, it’s the photocopier.

The machine you only ever underestimate once if you’re a teacher cutting it fine before class. The sweet relief of giving the toner a shake and getting 10 more copies is going to stress you out more than you think right before standing in front of a class.

It’s one of those tasks that seems small, but if someone else is using the machine, it breaks down or comes up with some unknown error in impossible robotic language the lesson you originally planned is going to be a lot harder.

Aim to get your resources printed and ready at least the day before. It removes the stress of having to rush around before the lesson and should hopefully keep things on track…wasp permitting.

5) Build a support network
Teaching can be an incredibly lonely job, especially when you’re teaching 6 lessons back-to-back, working through break and lunch, and spending your evenings planning and marking. But it is important to take time out in the staff room to connect with other teachers, particularly if you are in your first few years of teaching. This support system and knowledge base is an invaluable source of backup.

Becoming part of the school community will add to your sense of support and wellbeing – and you never know when their knowledge may be of benefit to you.

Involve yourself in school events, and make the effort to chat during break times. Just having someone in the same position as you to listen and laugh with can make all the difference. However, remember to also not volunteer for too many events or extra-curricular activities.

If you’re still struggling to build your own support network then social media can be a great place to find a listening ear, resources, advice, and current pedagogy.

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The author

Daniel Bull-Mittens BA PGCE MA MCCT is a Teacher of History and lead for Ancient History at a secondary school in the United Kingdom. Originally from Southampton, Daniel graduated with a degree in History from the University of Southampton, he went on to study a PGCE at the University of Chichester, before studying MA Education at the University of Portsmouth. Daniel is passionate about improving the life chances of young people and supporting teachers to develop their research-informed classroom practice.

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