How to make a good impression in your new school

Teacher Adam Black's four top tips on how to survive those first few days in a new school

How to make a good impression in your new school

I wrote an article for Tes a while back about being a nomadic teacher and how it has its benefits. What that also brings me is a bit of experience meeting a new department, stage partner, set of children and senior management team (SMT). Here are a few of my tips to help you survive those first few days and make a good impression.

1. When meeting your class, go in with your best foot forward (but don't wear glitzy shoes)

What is he talking about you might ask? Well, you want to impress your class and get them excited about lessons but equally you can't start off with glitzy, razzmatazz lessons that you can't sustain. Meet somewhere in the middle. Do exciting lessons but also lessons that help show you as a person – let your personality be the glitz.

2. Go out of your way to speak to your new colleagues

I've always found it beneficial to really try to soak up things in the first week or so in a new department. Get to know who the characters are and what skills they bring. Ask for their help – you are new in their school, after all. It shows strength to ask for assistance and almost all people I've ever met are happy to help the newbie.


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One thing I'd advise against from the very start is waxing lyrical about your own talents and experience. Let that drip out slowly and show them all you have to offer over a period of weeks and months. Better to "walk the walk" rather than just talking a good game.

3. Don't be shy

Meeting a new SMT can be a little daunting for some new starts in a job and I understand that. My advice would be to be polite, ask questions if they're best placed to answer but don't trouble them with something a stage partner could answer easily. Equally, new or not, you'll be bringing something different to the department or school, so if you have something to say in a meeting then don't be afraid, good staff meeting will treat everyone as an equal.

4. Get to know everyone – and I mean everyone

I think this is the most important advice. Take an interest in everyone in your department, ask about them and their lives. If you see a cleaner or member or janitor, then do the same. I'm still social media friends with a few cleaners over the years and enjoy keeping up with their lives. Take time to get to know office staff, as they are the gateway to many things in schools and I've never been comfortable just using them for administrative things. It also makes getting that extra bit of photocopying a bit easier!

I hope this hasn't been teaching a granny how to suck eggs, but I've found these things have always served me well. Good luck to all of you starting work in new schools – you'll be great.

Adam Black is a primary teacher in Scotland who, in the New Year's Honours list, received the British Empire Medal for raising awareness of stammering. He tweets @adam_black23

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