Plan and learn to the letter

9th January 1998 at 00:00
Helpful hints from Susannah White

Weekends. Try to give yourself at least one night off over the weekend. Even if your marking is piling up you need time to rest.

H omework. Establish a system for dealing with late homework and for noting who was away when homework was set. If you don't note these things down you might end up in a muddle.

Anxiety. If you find yourself dreaming about school or having difficulty sleeping don't panic. I find that these phases are usually short lived. Try not to worry so much!

Teaching style. Don't be afraid to develop your own teaching style. You might feel tempted to "be someone else" but in the end it is easier to be true to yourself.

Tutor Group. If you have a tutor group it is important to establish a system for dealing with administration absences etc very quickly as problems in this area can eat into your pastoral time.

H eads of Department. Don't be afraid to ask them questions or bring them problems. They often have any easy solution based on experience.

Eating too much. When you are tired at the end of the day you might be tempted to comfort yourself with food (my local station provides a wonderful apricot slice). Watch your weight. Food is not the answer to everything.

Planning is the key to success. You need to think ahead all the time and make sure that your resources are available. Don't ever leave planning to the last minute as you will end up in a panic.

Guilt. However much you do there is always more you could do. Try not to feel guilty. You need a life too.

Check the video. Make sure that a) the player works, b) the tape is wound to the right place, and c) that you know what is on the tape. There is nothing worse than a lesson where you end up fiddling about with a video with a restless class behind you.

E njoy the job. Don't focus on the negative moments for too long. Enjoy your successes and remember what you are achieving.

F ree periods. Although you can be used for cover you should have a decent number of free periods in your first year. Make the most of them: it is quite a shock when you go on to full timetable in your second year.

Ofsted. If an inspection happens in your first year don't worry. The inspectors know that you are an NQT and they will be aware of your lack of experience. Besides, the PGCE has involved you in lots of observed lessons. You will hardly notice the difference.

Registration. The Simms system might seem complicated at first but you will soon get used to it. Don't forget to colour in the P at the bottom of the page or it will look like your whole form is away.

Grades. Don't worry too much about marking. If you are not sure about your grades ask the head of department for help. In my first term I always asked her to sample mark three pieces for me to help me check my standards.

Open evenings. These can be quite frightening in your first year. Just remember that most of the parents trust your judgment. If any tricky situations arise with parents summon the head of department.

Tired. You will probably feel more tired than you have ever done in your life. This is normal. In my first term I often went to bed at 9pm.

Susannah White teaches English and RE at Regents Park Secondary School, Southampton

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