New School blues
After 5 years teaching, I have just started in a new school, and after just one week I feel as though I’m an NQT all over again, it’s so different. Help!
Well done on getting that new job! And you’ll soon settle in, don’t worry. Starting any new job is always a bit scary at first, because every school has its own traditions, its own culture. You just have to learn fast, as both staff and students will have expectations of you.
Read the school policies
And the way to learn is to ask people, and also find things out for yourself. Go and read all the noticeboards. Check your e-mail at least once a day. Ask for a copy of the staff handbook with all the policies. If there’s only a staffroom copy, ask to borrow it over the weekend.
In any new school, the thing that you need to know immediately is the child protection and safeguarding policy, including who are the two officially designated Child Protection Officers. Then you have to be aware of the rewards and sanctions policy (it may be called the discipline policy), and the assessment or homework policy.
These are the things that will enable you to work effectively with your students, ensuring consistency with the work of the other teachers.
It’s also a good idea to run your eye over the list of other policies, so that at least you know that they exist and can consult them if necessary. Make a photocopy of the list, and put it inside your planner or on the wall by your desk so that it’s always handy.
Put dates in your diary
Find out what is the established practice in your department for the schemes of work and lesson planning – how detailed is it supposed to be? And report writing – when will it be, so that you don’t plan to go away that weekend. You’ll need to put parents’ evenings in your diary too. Got the holidays marked in yellow highlighter pen already?
Make use of in-line calendars. I put everything in Google Calendar, having set up as default to receive reminders, both Alerts and E-mails, 10, 7,3 and 1 days ahead. I get the reminder on my phone and my computer, so no excuse!
For other things, just look around, see what others do – don’t assume that it will be the same as your last school. Are there preferred places in the car park for certain staff? What is the etiquette over eating smelly food in the staffroom? The informal dress code (although there may be an official one in the staff handbook - check) is especially important. If the weather suddenly takes a turn for the better, you don’t want to be the only female in a sleeveless top nor the only male in a t-shirt, so play it safe.
By half term, you’ll wonder how you could ever have worked anywhere else.
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