Emily Weston (@primaryteachew) is an Edapt subscriber and blogs about her experience moving into her new transition teacher role. We provide edu-legal support and advice for teachers and school staff, you can subscribe here.
We’re nearing the end of our first half term of a new school year; a year that has been (I’m sure you’re bored of this phrase) full of unprecedented circumstances that has changed how we’ve had to work. Not only now, but possibly impacting on the way we view schooling from here on out.
We started September with cautious trepidation, knowing the changes we have already made and implemented may well change again. That everything we’ve put in place over the summer might have to be readjusted according to new guidance, new directions and in response to how pupils have returned to us.
One thing that hasn’t changed for teachers, though, is our want to make things as brilliant as possible for the children. Every person I’ve spoken to has been putting their absolute best into making school as nurturing, accommodating and accessible as possible whilst still providing as many academic experiences as they can which immerse the children in a rich (and varied) curriculum.
Because of this, a lot of people have also indicated they feel as though they are burning out quicker than usual too. It’s hard to remember – and teachers are notorious for putting others first anyway – to look after ourselves first. But we must. Children will not learn their best, if their teachers are not at their best.
For me, the biggest change has been that I moved from Primary to Secondary teaching – not only did I start a new year at a new school, but it was an entirely new phase of education. There are so many things which, naturally, are very similar to my previous position. However, a number of things are quite an adjustment! This has meant I’ve had to really pace my own way of working; I am well known for jumping into things with both feet and ‘burning the candle at both ends’. However, taking on a new role (or for any of us, adjusting ourselves to a completely different style of teaching) has meant actively changing my way of working – for now at least. These may not be helpful to you, but I found these three small things really helped keep me going.
1) Don’t be too hard on yourself
As teachers we are often perfectionists – but we are under so much additional stress right now it’s important to be kind to ourselves first. If you haven’t finished the job as perfectly as usual it’s okay! Come back to it another time if you can, or be proud of all the hard work you would have already put into it.
This is one I certainly have had to tell myself most days.
2) Have an ‘I’ve done’ list
Instead of always racking up the things you need to do, try writing down the things you have achieved! It can make a huge difference to mindset and it is such a small change. I now do this each day!
3) Take time to learn new rules and routines
You won’t get it perfect every time. You won’t know everything right away. Even if you’ve been teaching for years; even if you’ve gone into a leadership position; even if you haven’t moved schools, remember you can ask for help!
We don’t all know everything all the time and we need to remember this. Asking advice about something you’ve been worrying over can be the adjustment you need to make the day go better, or for you to feel more comfortable.
Working alongside Secondary colleagues who are used to the ‘everyday’ of the job has been refreshing; they have a different style of working which has enabled me to also adjust mine. I find the day much more dynamic.
You’re with different classes, teaching different lessons and you have PPA throughout the week rather than in a block. I’ve discovered how much I previously procrastinated in my PPA sessions and now have to work much quicker in order to keep myself up to date.
It’s a way I wouldn’t have worked before!
Essentially, it’s about finding what works for you and being kind to yourself!