Pop in for your ease of mind

9th July 2004 at 01:00
It's great to visit your school before you start working there in September so that you can familiarise yourself with planning, routines and procedures. Spend time with key people: support staff, teachers with whom you'll be planning, your immediate boss, the head and deputy and your induction tutor. Get the lowdown from staff who know the pupils you'll be teaching. Definitely get on the good side of admin staff and the premises officer.

When you meet the pupils try to come across as friendly but very firm and professional - first impressions count. Get a feel for the standard of work by looking in detail at a few high, average, and low attainers so that you can bear them all in mind when you're planning.

See the classroom you'll be in next term and make a note of what's in it.

You'll probably be confronted with a pile of furniture in the centre of the room when you return at the end of the holidays, so take a photo of how the furniture is arranged now. Look at the resources in your classroom and the rest of the school. Have you got all that you need?

Someone on The TES's new teacher forum despaired when she saw her room:

"What a tip! All the artefacts are broken, displays hanging off walls, none of the tables match, the blinds are broken, my whiteboards have loads of scratches and dents in, there are no whiteboard pens."

If that happens to you, make a list of everything that needs to be put right: schoolkeepers normally get things shipshape in the holidays.

Resources may be hidden away in someone else's cupboard, so ask around.

What you want to avoid is worrying about it when you should be preparing - and building your stamina for the term ahead. You should leave the school feeling full of enthusiasm, with lots of information and secure in the knowledge that you'll be supported.

For some people, though, the visit gives them lots to worry about. Talking to jaded teachers and seeing pupils behaving badly contradicts impressions gained at interview. Remember, you're seeing the school at its worst, with with exhausted teachers and demob-happy kids. It'll be better at the start of the school year - honest.

New teacher forum www.tes.co.ukstaffroom

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