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Friday Five: Things you should never say to a new teacher

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In case you hadn’t heard, the teaching profession is in the middle of a recruitment crisis. So with trainee teachers becoming a bit thin on the ground, you’d be better off being nice to the few that you have. Here are five things it might be better to avoid saying say to them: 

  1. “Oh, sorry, I thought you were a sixth former” Being accused of being youthful is a compliment in an off-licence. In the staffroom, it’s just an embarrassing reminder that the trainee teacher still has a long way to go to attain the appropriate level of world-weariness required for the job. Sixth former  
  2. “This will count as good evidence for your files” Don't mention the files. There are five of them. They are overflowing. Geoff Capes couldn't lift them. And the cross-referencing system is more complicated than Progress 8. New teacher files  
  3. “Right, let's discuss AfL/differentiation/independent learning/lesson outcomes” You may think this would be helpful, it is not. Chances are the trainee teacher has discussed these things more times that you’ve told a student to tuck in their shirt in the past few months. Yet another lecture on the numerous benefits of using de Bono’s thinking hats is about as appealing as a trip to the school canteen. Endless pedagogy  
  4. “Take this worksheet to Mrs Smith in reprographics to be duplexed” Who is Mrs Smith? Where is reprographics? And what, in the name of Nicky Morgan, is duplexing? Photocopy panic  
  5. “It might help if you got to the classroom five minutes early” Ha! As the bottom of the educational food chain, the trainee teacher is only ever given classrooms that couldn’t be further apart. Not even Usain Bolt in a Bugatti Veyron could make it from one side of the school to the other in time for the start of Period 2. Especially not with a tray of pens and an armful of exercise books to boot. Classroom dash

Chris Powell was talking to Nicola Davison. He is a professional mentor, head of year and geography teacher at Parmiter's School, Hertfordshire

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