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Beginning teacher basics

 
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​There’s lots to think about when you first start any new job, let alone your very first teaching gig! It’s natural to be nervous and maybe feel a little overwhelmed, but the good news is there’s lots of support to help you get on your feet. Here’s our advice for tackling your first few weeks on the job.

1. Get started

We’ve put together a useful website to help with your beginning teacher induction. You’ll find all the information you’ll need to get started in your teaching career with us, including some orientation checklists to guide you on what to do before you start, on your first day and week, as well as procedures for your school and relocation.

2. Soak up support from the department

If you’re starting in a Queensland state school, you’ll have access to our specially-curated intranet page for beginning teachers. With inspiring messages of encouragement plus plenty of details on professional requirements, professional learning opportunities and ongoing support including mentoring, it will be your go-to source of information while you get settled.

If you’ve got time up your sleeve, get your brain into gear for the year with some courses on The Learning Place. You might also want to get to grips with OneSchool, the software used in our schools, using our online training environment, or check out our other professional development opportunities for staff.

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Starting your career as a teacher

There are many structures in place to help graduate teachers. Joel reflects on his time as a beginning teacher at Denison State School in Emerald, Central Queensland and the support he received from the department.

3. Take care of yourself

Be kind to yourself! There is a lot to absorb in your first year of teaching and this can be challenging if you don’t take time to look after yourself. Here are some evidence-based strategies to help you build wisdom and bounce through your first year:

Conservation of resources: we all have a wellbeing bank account, so make sure you continue to deposit into your account every day. This can be little things like exercise, mindfulness, social activities, healthy sleep and laughing with a friend.

Try these tips to respond positively when challenged in the classroom: 

  • Pause and recognise: pause and take a breath—recognise you’re having a stress response and this will help to control and reduce it.
  • Shift and distract: physically shift your body and distract your class with a fun movement / brain break.
  • Reframe: tell yourself a different story about what happened by posing questions such as 'What went well? What can I learn and do differently next time?'
  • Consider using a wellbeing app useful to help reframe your headspace after a stressful event.

There’s no denying it will be a busy period, but the department is committed to ensuring all our staff are empowered to adopt healthy behaviours. When you teach in a state school, you will have access to lots of activity ideas, resources and information on the intranet that will help you manage your physical wellbeing, psychological wellbeing, occupational wellbeing, financial wellbeing and social and community engagement. Search for 'Staff wellbeing' on One Portal to access these.

It’s handy to find a teaching buddy at your school—someone you can talk to when you need a chat with someone who understands the beginning teacher journey. But don’t forget Queensland state school staff can also access face-to-face or telephone counselling via our Employee Assistance Program, or contact our Staff Wellbeing team for support.

4. Crunch your curriculum planning

Curriculum into the Classroom is a comprehensive set of whole-school and classroom planning materials for single-level and multi-level classes. Remember to keep your planning files and resources organised from the beginning so you can build on your teaching toolkit from year to year.

5. School up on the standards

The Australian Professional Standards for Teaching will be crucial in your career, so it’s wise to master them early.

The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership has a fantastic online library of tools and resources which put the standards into practice (plus heaps of other useful stuff too). And of course you can’t go past the Queensland College of Teachers for everything you need when it comes to the standards, as well as expectations around your professional conduct and information on registration.

6. Other tips for getting started

  • Set aside time to settle in. It can take a bit longer to get things done than you might imagine when you’re learning, so it’s best to overestimate how much time you’ll need to get yourself (and your classroom!) sorted before the school year starts.
  • Make space for 5 minutes every day to jot down a few notes about your day: your reflections on what you did, what you learned, what was challenging and what made you smile. It will be great to look back on and see how much you’ve grown!
  • Stay strong. Just like your students, you’re all learning. Don’t be hard on yourself if it takes you a while to feel comfortable in the classroom. Remember why you started teaching in the first place and don’t be afraid to reach out for help when you need it.

Have you got any other pearls of wisdom for beginning teachers? Share your ideas with us at teachqld@qed.qld.gov.au.

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Last updated 11 May 2020