Survival Tips for Starting Your Teacher Training

Sam ParkinThere is a lot to get used to when you begin anything new, let alone when you are learning a completely new discipline in a completely new environment. Teacher training is fascinating and stimulating, but I found it quite overwhelming to begin with, especially when starting my first placement.

I think it’s important to recognise some truths to help you through your first term.

Imposter syndrome is something we all experience. It is natural. It takes reasonable observations about your current position and performance and blows them out of proportion. You may have come from a job or degree you were very proficient at; it takes time to get used to being not so good at something. You will improve!
Teachers are always learning and improving, there is no such thing as the “perfect” teacher.
It isn’t helpful to compare your performance in a lesson to someone else’s who is 20 years down the line from you.
You will make many wrong decisions to begin with. But you will learn from them.
It is frustrating seeing the gap between the theory in your head and your day-to-day practice. This gap takes time to close, and will never disappear.
Starting something new is tiring, but rewarding.

There are also some simple habits and ideas you can put into practice.

Make the most of the other trainees for support.
Schedule in set times to do your lesson planning, target/action planning, assignment and evidence gathering.
Try to set yourself timeframes for each task. But also, recognise that they will take longer to begin with.
When observing your classes, use the seating plans to get to know their names before you start teaching them. If you can, find out more about them, by asking the teacher and the students themselves.
When reflecting on lessons, or receiving feedback, focus on a few things at a time: maybe 3 good aspects and one aspect to improve. Decide upon an improvement that will make the most difference with the least effort.
Prepare for your mentor meetings to make the most of them. Collect your questions, reflect on your week and outline the targets you want to set.
Try not to look forward too far. The next stage always seems daunting, and it may be hard to imagine how you will perform when you get there. You will have grown by then; take it one day at a time.
You don’t need to say “yes” to everything.
Stay active.
Take at least one full day off a week. Time for unwinding is time very well spent.
Remember that despite and criticism, anxiety and difficulties, you are doing the best you can!

By Sam Parkin