Whilst the media is presenting the dramatic decline in people becoming teachers or staying in the profession, teaching is still viewed as one of the best possible professions on offer to people looking to make a difference to the lives of our country’s young people. If approached with these tips in mind, it can be a rewarding and fulfilling career for the right people.
- Decide on your own rules and stick to them
A crucial key to succeeding as a teacher is to decide on your own set of rules which dictate how and when you work. Obviously, the school day’s hours are set and every school will have its own policies regarding marking, assessment etc. but ensuring that you aren’t the first one in and the last one to leave every day is essential for your wellbeing and health. Promise yourself that you’ll leave by 4.30pm every day, or that you will never take work home, or that you will insist on not doing work at the weekends, for example, and stick to it!
- Build a routine of self-care (in and out of school)
Life as a teacher can quickly become over-run by your job so making sure you establish a routine of self-care for yourself is essential if you want to avoid a life of poor sleep and comfort eating. Build in time for exercise, mindfulness, meal preparation etc. and this can help you to maintain your health a lot more effectively. Without this, you can quickly become bogged down by illness or tiredness meaning you’ll be less and less effective in your work anyway.
- Manage your workload
There’s no getting away from the vast volume of marking, planning, meetings, data collection, assessments and admin that’s required in teaching but managing this workload with regards to level of urgency is vital because you will not get everything done all at once. Keep a to-do list to organise your time and tick things off as you go. If a set of data is due that day, then leave the book marking until tomorrow if you can.
- Ask for help
A common mistake made by new and old teachers is to not ask for help and this only ever leads to mistakes or extra work. If you are unsure then ask for help; teachers, by their very nature, are helpful people and won’t mind giving up their time. There’s no shame in admitting you’re stuck or unsure about something and, whilst it’s easy to get stuck in an isolated mindset whilst in your classroom all day, don’t forget that you’re part of a bigger, experienced team and someone will have a few suggestions that could help you out.
- Focus on the positives
When one of your lessons hasn’t worked as well as hoped, or a class’s behaviour has felt really overwhelming, or you’re just tired at the end of the week, it’s easy to focus on the negatives but this is a fast road to a lot of bad feelings about yourself, your job, and your ability as a teacher. Even the most experienced educators will have off lessons or even off days so don’t beat yourself up: find the positive from your day, focus on that, and remember that you’re brilliant! It might even be worth keeping a record of your successes (whether that’s a compliment from a student or a class performing well in an assessment) to remind yourself with.