It’s been a wonderful first start to teaching and I now certainly feel a lot more wise than I did at the start (I hope so anyway). Here are my top three things I wished I knew at the start of my training:
1.Don’t stress if you finish your lesson early
This was one of my mortal fears as a newbie: having a class full of children and an extra 10 minutes to fill. Perhaps the class had understood the topic quicker than expected. Perhaps behaviour was that little bit better so we got through the content with time to spare. In these cases, I would panic and start the next lesson prematurely which was confusing for the students and disastrous for myself. I have since learnt that a quick round of questions, peer review of work or game of hangman will fill that dreaded void until the bell without the students batting an eyelid.
2. Have tissues on hand to remedy any problems
In primary school I was always dubious about how the dinner ladies would suggest a wet paper towel regardless of the ailment you thought was so serious you needed immediate help. However, as a teacher myself, I quickly realised how many problems a tissue will solve. Ink all over your hands? Tissue. Sore legs? Tissue. Argument with friends at break? Tissue. Headache? Tissue. In a bad mood? Tissue. It was amazing how quickly such a simple object would solve the impending problem and so I always make sure to have a box nearby (84p in Aldi if you were wondering!)
3. The lightbulb moments are the best
There are so many wonderful parts that make up teaching: the politeness of students, the support of surrounding staff, the humour of 14 year olds etc. etc. But the part that I have found to be my favourite are the ‘lightbulb moments.’ I had been told about them before I ever entered the classroom and I was sceptical about being able to see the learning on a child’s face. How wrong I was. The look that spreads across a child’s face as they understand something they’ve been working really hard on is amazing…and 99% of the time it’s followed by a thank you which further cements the good feeling.