Tips of the trade: 16. First steps

Starting in a new school is daunting, but there are things you can do to manage the first few weeks. Most schools run an induction programme, so make sure you attend. Get to know the school's discipline policy; this will impress pupils who know the rules and will be trying to test you. Find out what to do about serious incidents such as racism and fighting. Some schools have a flow chart of action - learn it for your own protection. And get to know your line managers, usually your head of department for curricular matters and your head of year for pastoral.

Secondary teachers should divide workload into two sections: KS3, and GCSEA-level. Approach each with a different mindset, but give the same initial lesson: your expectations for the class. Get them to copy a simplified scheme of work into their books so they can see where they're going. KS3 is the easiest to start teaching as your own depth of knowledge isn't needed. Focus on simple questions at first and have fun. With GCSE and A-levels, focus on pupil research and presentations in the first two weeks, thus giving yourself an overview of the classes and a chance to settle in.

Sort out your storage space and get pupils' work on display straight away. Put positive messages on the walls and make the room as friendly and comfortable as possible.

As for how to conduct yourself in the first weeks, colleagues will offer advice. But be true to yourself. Pupils will see through any faking, which in itself is hard to keep up. Be friendly and professional. And enjoy yourself.

Roy Watson-Davis is an advanced skills teacher in the London borough of Bexley. Have you any useful tips to pass on? We pay for any published

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