Arriving to teach at a new school can be a daunting experience.
However, these transitions can be an excellent opportunity to assert yourself and to develop your career in the way you wish. It is a chance to expand upon your skillset and professional growth.
Of course, you can do this through your day-to-day role and achieving good outcomes. However, there are other ways in which you can impress your new colleagues and those above you – and these often require very little additional work or a lot of extra time on top of your usual work hours.
How teachers can make a good first impression in a new school
1. Observe and engage
As a new employee in the school, you will view the environment from a different perspective to existing teachers. Such observations, when shared with potential solutions, can support the development of a school.
Therefore, watch how teachers run their classroom, how routines are carried out, and identify aspects that will support your practice. Don’t be afraid to request to join other classes, observe or partake in a lesson.
This could be in different areas of the school, as there are opportunities to learn throughout a school. Observe school routines; for example, how teachers engage children at playtime and what routines are being followed in the lunch hall.
If you see good practice or are unsure of anything, have a conversation with the teacher. Incidental conversations around the school or in the staffroom can often reveal so much about a school.
2. If you identify an improvement – raise it
As you will have likely come from another school, either UK-based or international, you bring a wealth of knowledge on how other schools have worked successfully in a range of areas.
Following on from observations like the above, if you perceive an area of improvement, discuss this with your line manager. For example, I noticed in one school in which I worked that there was no provision for the under-3s.
Therefore, I suggested we implement a parent/child group. This idea was greatly appreciated and within a week I was in a meeting with the CEO and SLT.
This also applies for team and planning meetings. Don’t hold back in team meetings and instead share routines and/or pedagogy you have used that have been really successful.
When providing solutions, you not only show your potential but also become known and respected by those that you work with, your leaders and other staff throughout the school.
3. Attend meetings to learn more about a school
Sometimes meetings are optional for staff, especially during Inset week. These may be Q and A with the senior leadership team, for example.
If you can, attend these to show you interest in whole-school development. Should there be an item on the agenda that you support? Raise it.
For example, are there developments or projects taking place pastorally or within an area of the curriculum that you are passionate about? If there are, see if you can join in discussions and contribute to these projects.
Such meetings can also be an opportunity to learn about the direction of the school and therefore how you can assist.
4. Partner with other classes
To help grow your presence and enhance the learning for children, it is a great idea to arrange "buddying" with one or more classes. Your class and another can work together on projects or reading, for example. Don’t just wait until World Book Day or similar to get this started.
In one school I established a Year 6 guided reading group to support my key stage 1 class. Training the Year 6 on how to lead a session was excellent professional growth for myself and offered personal growth for the children trained.
5. Volunteer for roles where you can help to develop the wider school
During the year, roles often become available such as house points co-ordinator, a guided reading committee role, PTA panelist or similar.
Some of the roles do not require a great deal of time commitment but will allow you to work with a range of people for the development of the school.
6. Support social events and staff activities
Throughout the year there are likely to be school social events, such as sports and national days. If you volunteer at these it can be a great way to really get to know a wide array of people within the school.
Even if you can’t volunteer, then try and attend – there’s often no better way to really learn about a school than a big event with parents, pupils and teachers altogether.