1. Teaching is not just What but also Why
2. Make Teamwork Central to Teaching and Learning
- Build Physical Trust
- Build Emotional Trust
- Practise Collaboration
I have written about this elsewhere and you can see how to implement this strategy here.
3. Develop Organisational Skills
If you are lucky enough to be well-organised then you have already made your first year of teaching much simpler. I was not an organised person in my first year. This has nothing to do with having a messy table or a classroom that looks scruffy and lived-in. In fact, I always prefer to walk into a classroom which has an element of unruliness and I find it difficult to imagine a classroom being any other way where authentic, student-centred learning is happening.
The key to good organisation in your first year is digital documentation and archiving. Before your first day of school create multiple folders on your laptop desktop labelled by class and subject. Subdivide these as you see fit but make sure to create space for your class planners, your resources, your assessments and student work samples. Get into the habit of planning on your computer and immediately saving important documentation to the correct file. Essentially you want to go paperless in your planning from day one. If you use a worksheet or use materials shared by colleagues, get into the habit of photographing these on your Smart Phone or scanning them immediately. If you must create hard copies use these as a backup only because it is absolutely guaranteed that if you have only one paper copy of any important planning document, it will go missing when you need it again.
In addition to saving your planning documents on your desktop, use Pinterest to archive important articles and create YouTube playlists to save useful Videos. In both cases you can create playlists to save material by class and subject. Here are examples of my YouTube Playlists and my Pinterest Boards.
4. Get Globally Connected
5. Be Good to Yourself
6. Include Parents
It is essential that you include parents in the formative assessment process. One of the major causes of conflict you will encounter with parents is when a student receives poor grades but it has not been articulated to the parents until the end of term that the child was struggling. In this article for Education Week I talk about some practical strategies to avoid such conflict.
7. Don’t try to One-Up your Colleagues
Rather than demand that others do what you do, think about what platforms you may use to showcase outstanding outcomes that you achieved using your methodology. If you are doing particularly interesting work with Project-Based Learning and you wish to showcase your students’ work, volunteer to have the next staff-meeting in your classroom. Your colleagues should be impressed by your work and it allows them to initiate a conversation about your methods. If you have found an App or Programme that makes your life as a teacher easier again find time in a meeting to walk staff through how to use it and show them outstanding examples. It is always a safe bet to make any meetings relating to EdTech as interactive as possible. Allow teachers to grow familiar with the basic functions of a programme and then discuss with others how it may be useful in context. I have written about how to revolutionise EdTech use in any school here.
The key to successful professional working relationships with colleagues is to leave your ego at home. If you have a great innovation for the classroom remember it is to the benefit of the students and the school as a whole and not for the advancement of your career. Share your ideas openly and without need for reward.
8. Smart Assessment
In general a good rule for your first year in teaching is to place less emphasis upon summative assessments and instead focus on providing students will high-quality feedback and formative evaluations. I have written about how to give quality feedback here.
9. Be Transparent
It is important that you make your learning objectives and success criteria for all assessment visible and clearly understood to students. While there are many ways to do this and it will depend upon the task at hand, rubrics provide you with great flexibility and transparency in your grading. In this interview with student teachers at the University of Augsburg Dr Howard Pitler discusses how to effectively use rubrics in your classroom.