I tried to think of a different way of titling this post, I wasn’t keen on the word ‘surviving’ but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that actually, you really do feel like you’re surviving… Just about. I’ve been onto Twitter, Instagram and even scrolled through my personal Facebook a few times to discover that Teacher Training Nerves are setting in. Now, I know you’ve probably (definitely) heard some complete horror stories but let’s begin with an open mind. Having just completed the PGCE, I totally understand why you are so nervy and that is why I’ve created this post… So, sit back, take a deep breath and repeat “I can do this”.
This is a re-blog post originally posted by @NQTBlogger101 and published with kind permission.
The original post can be found here.
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So. Good on you, you’ve decided to enter the teaching world and (presumably) are heading off to university to begin your first steps as a sparkly new teacher. You’ve trolled through all of those prospectuses, visited various campuses, made your choice and completed those horrible interviews. Firstly, well done. I remember that feeling all too well; the sweats, the shakes, the unable-to-eat-until-its-over feeling. I can’t promise you won’t ever feel those jitters again but you have successfully proven you are worthy of a place in the profession and for that, give yourself a pat on the back.
It’s so easy to get lost in trying to be the absolute best, in your devotion to those students so in this post, I’m going to focus on you. You as a person, a human being with thoughts, feelings and real emotions. Students forget that us teachers aren’t indestructible, that we don’t actually live in school or have a life outside of our classrooms so it’s easy to forget to be kind to yourself. I’m not going to pretend to know it all because I certainly don’t, I’ve still got loads to learn myself about the mechanics of a classroom; behaviour management, differentiation… I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning! But, during my training year I suffered some hard times that really tested my patience, both in and out of school so I feel I have some worthy advice to donate.
- Be organised. If you’re not going to do anything else, for the love of God, just be organised! Make sure you know what dates your assignments are due in and what the word count is at least, have this information in a diary. Take notes in your lectures/seminars/classes/workshops because the information about that Employability Lecture in 3 months time matters. What I’m trying to say is be prepared. It’s OK to forget some information, you are a human being after all but it’s not OK to rely on your peers every day. It’s so easy to push something to the back of your mind and say “it can wait” but honestly, try not to leave everything until the last minute. Do whatever you’ve been asked to do (pre-course tasks, mini-assignments, reading activities etc.) and do it now! Next, get yourself to stationary shops and get yourself a file or ten (you’re gonna need them, that I can guarantee), heck you might as well get some highlighters and a stapler! You will quickly become excited by stationary, get used to it.
- Accept that you are learning. Nobody expects you to know everything right now. I can’t stress this enough… It takes time to build your confidence and to find your niche. You will have days where you step back and think you can’t do it but for every mishap, every mistake, every wrong turn, every misunderstanding, every ‘bad’ lesson that you will punish yourself for, comes a learning curve. You won’t make that mistake again… Just let it go. It’s a one-thing-at-a-time kind of job; you’ve got to leave yesterday right there and dust yourself off. Again, be kind to yourself.
- Take a break. Some of you reading this will be night owls, who tap tap tap away at your computer until well after midnight. That’s OK. Some of you (like myself) have to be in bed by 10:30pm unless the students want to be greeted by an ogre in the morning. That’s also OK. My point is, you can’t do both. You physically cannot stay up late working away after a full day at school and then wake up at 5:30am and work again before you start. It’s impossible to maintain and I’m telling you from experience. Just don’t do it. Look at your timetable (perhaps university at first and then placement) and write down when you can work. If you know you have somewhere to be at 6pm on a Tuesday, organise your workload around it. Make sure you schedule something to do for yourself, something that is for you and has nothing to do with school. Please don’t burn the candle at both ends… You’ll be as much use as a chocolate teapot come Christmas. This leads nicely on to my next piece of advice…
- Try to be healthy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m partial to a glass of vino (or gin if anyone’s interested) and some good old comfort food after long day at the office but be careful. I became sluggish, tired and grey-looking because I wasn’t looking after myself. I challenge anybody who says teacher training is easy. It’s not. It’s full on, it’s intense and it’s tiring. Therefore, you must look after your body (and your mind) unless you want to spend the whole year coughing and spluttering. Schools are a minefield of germs and unfortunately you are susceptible to every bug going at first so it’s hugely important to live well. A healthy you = the best results.
- Share and share alike! You’ll come to realise that your course friends are a life line. Create a group chat or stay connected on social media because when you’re sat tearing your hair out on a Sunday evening, fresh out of ideas for Monday AM, these friends are invaluable. They offer a shoulder to cry on and an understanding of what you’re going through. They share your highs, your lows, pick you up when you’ve had enough and they are a fountain of knowledge, an alternative prospective and sometimes a welcome distraction. I personally don’t think I would have made it to the end if it wasn’t for the wonderful friends I made so, if you’re as lucky as me, you’ll make friends for life too!
- Finally, E N J O Y. Enjoy meeting new people, beginning a new adventure and becoming someone who young people look to for support. Enjoy meeting your students, exploring each growing personality and being part of a team at school. You are lucky. Your workplace is never the same as it was yesterday and it won’t be the same as today, tomorrow… Be thankful for this and relish in the opportunity to take risks in your lessons. Yes, it might not always go to plan but you are in a fortunate position, you have a fresh outlook on teaching and are pumped with new, exciting ideas that schools appreciate. Nerves are a part of the job, so just smile, moan when you get home and remember to leave yesterday where it is.
To all you aspiring teachers out there, believe you can do it and be kind to yourself.