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3T Publications UK limited
CD VERSION – 2004
Copyright for The Complete Teacher’s Manual and The Teacher’s Organiser.
You may copy files, modify them, print them out and/or photocopy any of the documents on your CD ROM for your own personal use. You may not copy the whole CD for someone else and you may not photocopy any of the pages within this manual. As fellow professionals we would hope that integrity prevents users from abusing this. However in the event that we do find breach of this, 3T Publications UK Limited will take legal action.
© 3T Publications UK Ltd 2001. Revised in 2002, 2003 & 2004.
Section A Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5. Section B Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9
Preparing for your new job Introduction Setting up teaching files Setting up a mark book and organiser Appearance The summer holiday Working to live The first week in your new job Mentors and other support Managing behaviour Time management 22 25 29 39 44 51 5 8 11 15 18
Chapter 10 Living with pressure and stress Chapter 11 Parents evenings
Looking after yourself 53 58 60 70
Chapter 12 Positive thinking Chapter 13 Keeping healthy Chapter 14 Money Chapter 15 Union membership
Useful information 72 76 77
Chapter 16 Strategies to help underachieving boys Chapter 17 Useful web sites Chapter 18 Moving on, moving up
CD ROM. 81
Chapter 19 Supplement for Teachers Organiser
Appendices. 1. How to unlock computer files and obtain the CD-ROM
NQT Induction Standards
Contractual changes to the teachers contract from Sept 2003.
Chapter 1 Introduction This manual is a collaboration of ideas from two practising teachers. We met as students on our PGCE course and have both been teaching for eleven years. I came into teaching after six years working in industry. After having taught in a difficult urban school and then a selective grammar school I took up a post as a subject co-ordinator in a comprehensive, where I acted as an ITT mentor. Finally, whilst writing the first version of this manual in 2000, I became Head of Science in another comprehensive school. My wife has worked in three different state schools. She currently teaches part-time due to family commitments. We consider ourselves young enough to recall our first year in teaching but have enough experience to offer you practical, down to earth advice, to enable you not only to survive the difficult first year of teaching, but also to make it a success. All of the information is based on our actual experiences and all of the suggestions are tried and tested. During our first years in teaching we learned a great deal; from other teachers, by applying common sense and from trial and (more often) error. Because of this we felt that many of the pitfalls were preventable and wondered how many other NQTs had done exactly the same things as we had done. We also thought about the many excellent teachers that we have come across and wondered how long it took them to get to grips with the demands of the job. How long did it take them to get organised and find a routine that fitted in with life outside teaching? Could this be done more quickly, by providing NQTs with advice about how to get organised, how to work efficiently, how to achieve and maintain a balanced life and how to avoid the pitfalls? We decided that it could and this was the reason for putting our combined thoughts on paper. Whilst it is true that experience cannot be learnt from a book, experience gained from trial and error is both frustrating and time consuming. As a profession teachers are constantly ‘reinventing the wheel’; independently producing worksheets and other resources, often because they work in isolation and don’t know what their colleagues are doing. They are not great sharers of ideas or experiences, often because they do not have the time or the opportunities to do so. The internet is changing this and there are now many sites where teachers are beginning to share
resources (see chapter 17). Some of these are American, but this is changing rapidly and will continue to do so over the next few years. Indeed the number of web sites where worksheets and lesson plans are available has increased dramatically since the first edition of ‘The Complete Teacher’ was written in 2000/2001. This manual attempts to prevent this ‘reinventing of the wheel’, or for want of a better expression, this ‘Groundhog Day’ approach to teaching by detailing methods, systems and approaches that work. It is a manual for teachers written by teachers who are still teachers and intend to remain so. Within the manual you will find invaluable information about the nitty-gritty of doing the job. This includes tips on maintaining discipline, ways of organising yourself to save time, living and coping with stress, using technology to help you, making a good impression initially, maintaining your self esteem and most importantly, having a sense of humour in the face of adversity. However, the manual is not yet another book about how to teach. It is about the whole life of being a teacher. We therefore make suggestions (some deliberately ‘tongue in cheek’) about organising finances, keeping healthy, maintaining a social life and generally keeping all areas of a teacher’s life balanced. How to use this Manual After first reading through it you will be able to prepare yourself during the summer holidays, and be clear about the things that are worth doing (and those that are not worth doing!) before you arrive at your new school. Just before the start of term, read it again to refresh your memory, and ensure that you give the best possible impression to both pupils and staff in your first few weeks. There will also be other times during the year when you will want to refer to sections of immediate importance or when you will use the CD-ROM to it’s full potential, such as when reports need writing.
The written manual can be printed out and kept in an A4 folder for reference purposes. Another Daily Organiser file should be set up from the ‘Organiser folder’ on the CD-ROM for maintaining records and planning your
lessons. Examples of such sheets can be found in Chapter 19. They can be printed off in A4 or A5 size. Should you wish to customise any of the sheets, e.g. to type names of pupils into the class lists or to type room numbers into the organiser sheets, details of how to unlock the files are in Appendix 1 and on the ‘Read Me’ file on the CD-ROM.
As mentioned previously, this manual is based on our experiences in the teaching profession. We have included the NQT induction standards for reference purposes in Appendix 2 and have suggested a good book to buy if you are concerned about achieving these. However, the core purpose is to address the subject of the whole life of being a teacher. Without a plan or system to work to, teaching can consume your whole life and this is not a healthy situation for anyone. We are more concerned about suggesting systems and strategies to keep your life in balance and help you diagnose and deal with problems should they arise. In that way you can enjoy work and life as an NQT and ultimately, you will be a better teacher for doing this. We hope you will find many of the sections invaluable, but of course no one can have all the answers. Chapter 7 is about the support NQT’s can expect and we would advise you to turn to your mentor and other professional colleagues immediately if you are worried, having difficulties, or feeling out of your depth. They were all NQT’s once and know exactly what it is like.
We very much hope the manual provides you with ideas, support, a sprinkling of humour and the confidence to succeed. We wish you every success in your first and future years within teaching! T & TT.
Chapter 2 Setting up Teaching Files. Section A of the manual is designed to help you prepare for the start of term. Once you have successfully obtained your new post you will have the summer holidays to worry about it! By following the suggestions in section A, you will be able to take positive steps to prepare yourself and avoid wasting time on tasks which are better left until the start of term. One of the most useful tasks you can do during the summer is set up your teaching files. It is also one of the simplest. If you are someone who operates a piling system rather than a filing system, this is for you! Why do I need a system? You will probably have kept a teaching file during your PGCE or B.Ed. Now you’ll be doing the job for real you need a streamlined system that works for you. On a course I once attended we were told that, when asked for a specific piece of paper, if you can’t recover it within thirty seconds your filing system isn’t good enough. That may seem a little extreme but it does make a point. In the course of the next year you will accumulate hundreds, if not thousands, of pieces of paper. You will have to write lesson plans and prepare resources. So, it’s a good idea to have a system in place before September to deal with them. After a year of hard work you will have lesson ideas, lesson plans, work sheets, schemes of work etc to hand and, most importantly, ready to use again in your second year. Your teaching files will not be complete at the end of the first year, in fact they will never be complete! They are working files containing documents that have to change. The National Curriculum changes, your teaching ideas change as you see different approaches and you’ll probably move to another school within two or three years. Consequently, you don’t want something that is so rigid it can’t be taken with you and adapted into a new system. You need something that is flexible and portable. What system can I use? The system I have developed over the years uses different coloured files for different Key Stages. You may laugh at the colour coding, but when you have to find something quickly under pressure, believe me, it works! Very simply:
• • •
Red files are for A level Blue files are for GCSE Green files are for KS3
At home I have a lever arch file for each key stage or year. These are my master files and they never leave home. They contain all my lesson plans and the worksheets/ transparencies etc needed for those lessons, divided into topics or units. Any other resources that I pick up do not go into these files, or they would be full by Christmas! Instead I have a few spare lever arch files for these, divided under the titles in the National Curriculum Programme of Study or Modules at A level. Beware of adopting a “just in case I might need it” approach, as 99% of the time you file this sort of stuff you will never look at it again! It also takes so long to trawl through that you would probably find something equally suitable elsewhere in half the time. Keep your filing system simple and minimal. When I go to work, I have three standard size A4 ring binders in my briefcase and an A4 organiser. These three ring binders (red, blue and green) contain only the topics I am currently teaching with each year group. When a topic is completed it goes back in the relevant master lever arch at home and is replaced by the next topic. My teaching “master files” at home are a resources library that can go with me to any new post. Some of the lesson plans will need adapting when I move, but that’s part of the job. I now have all of my lesson plans on disc, so adapting them is not a major task. However, unless you are very fast at typing, I wouldn’t recommend doing this in your first year. Wait a couple of years until things have settled down and you are happy with your lessons, before you type them up. You’ll find you want to make lots of changes to your teaching in your second year, so typing everything up from day one is not time well spent. Although I have been teaching for some time now, I have a total of five lever arch files at home that fill half a shelf on a bookcase; two for resources and one for each key stage. I don’t want my home to look like a classroom or an office. I’m therefore ruthless when it comes to getting rid of things. If I haven’t used a worksheet within two years, out it goes! Avoid becoming ‘a hoarder’ and remember, the most useful file of all is the round
circular one in the corner of the room. It’s also the most rewarding to fill, especially if you enjoy the challenge of a long shot.
The all-important bag. You will see staff struggling into work, laden with bulging bags and heavy plastic boxes designed for storing junk at the back of the garage. This is not necessary and gives out a message that you are not organised. There is no time to look at all this paperwork during a normal teaching day, so why bother bringing it? For several years I used a sports bag with an emergency Sainsbury’s carrier for peak times. However, I think one of the modern canvas style briefcases creates a better impression. You are now a professional teacher instead of a student and, rightly or wrongly, staff and pupils will make judgements based on your appearance.
Chapter 3 Setting up a Mark Book and Organiser. Setting up a Teachers’ Organiser is another useful job that can be started during the summer holidays. As a teacher you will be preparing hundreds of lessons and will need to record data on your students’ progress. How you do this is worth careful consideration before you enter the classroom. However, it is unlikely that you will have class lists before the start of term (and even if you do they will probably change over the summer holidays), so actually filling in your mark book is a job best left until September, unless you have been given them on disc. You will no doubt have seen several different versions of mark books both from your own school days and during your teaching practices. Some teachers still use a traditional A4 hardback version, which has been in operation for a long, long time. When I tried this early on in my career, I found that it invariably became stuffed full of loose A4 sheets of information about pupils which I really needed when marking and planning (e.g. individual education plans – IEP’s). The problem was there was no where to keep them. One of the biggest chores with this mark book was at the start of the school year when all the class lists had to be written in by hand and previous marks had to be carried over when the book became full. I quickly abandoned this in favour of products for use in ring binders and, whilst these were better, they still didn’t do exactly what I wanted. For example it would be difficult to overlay the attendance sheet on the mark sheet which, although not a huge issue, is a minor irritation. Some of these products also contained lesson-planning sheets at the front but they could only accommodate certain timetables (e.g. 8 period day). I felt it would be much better to have all of the sheets on a computer to print out as required, rather than to have a book that only lasts for one year. With this in mind I developed my own, to address all of the problems that I had encountered. The end product is ‘The Organiser Sheets’ folder on the CDROM. Whatever your subject, I recommend the use of an organiser of some description, to help plan your way through the hundreds of lessons you will be teaching next year. Set up teaching files for each Key Stage or year as suggested in the previous chapter and keep your organiser
separate. It can be housed in the front of this A5 folder or in a separate A4 folder. It should contain the following: • • •
Daily and weekly organiser sheets. Attendance sheets for each class. Mark sheets for each class (with IEP’s inserted).
The Organiser You can print out A4 or A5 organiser sheets from the CD-ROM for your personal use. These include weekly and daily timetable blanks for 5,6,8 and 9 period days, for you to complete. Filling in a brief outline of each lesson allows you to see at a glance exactly what you are doing each day. If you are in a practical subject and are required to order equipment, it is much easier when you have an outline of the week’s lessons in front of you. Keeping an organiser also encourages you to think ahead, never a bad habit in teaching! The Mark Book At the back of your organiser you can insert attendance and mark sheets, or a diary checklist if you are a form tutor. All of these are available as tables in A4 and A5 size on the CD-ROM. They can be copied, added to and customised to suit. The advantage of a ring binder is that it’s easy to slot in extra sheets if you need to, or to transfer last year’s mark sheet for a GCSE group in the following September. Also, it is easier to include additional information next to the groups’ mark sheet (e.g. IEP’s). Alternatively, you may wish to use the spreadsheet version on the CD-ROM. Available again in A5 or A4, it combines an attendance sheet with a mark-sheet. It also enables all of your class lists to be held separately and then you simply ‘cut and paste’ the list into a mark-sheet when you need it. Full instructions are available on the CD-ROM. This is the system that I have adopted within my own department for all teachers to use. Once set up, it saves no end of time. No more laborious writing of names in mark books and then getting to the end of the
year with loads of additions crammed in at the bottom because a new housing estate has gone up and 5 new pupils have joined each class. Like report writing, it is an area where computers can save considerable time, providing you are prepared to invest the time to set it up. Over the years I have developed my own method of recording marks in a way that works for me. It is not ‘rocket science’ but I would like to suggest this as a starting point, which I am sure you will wish to adapt. •
Use separate sheets for attendance and marks if using the WORD sheets or use a combined sheet if using the EXCEL version from the CD-ROM. It is good practice to take an attendance register every lesson as it gives out the message that you “run a tight ship”. If anyone arrives late to a lesson (after the register has been taken) they get an L. Over several weeks it may be that a pattern will emerge, and you will have evidence to take appropriate action. I also use other standard codes for absence such as O-ill, E-excluded, I- isolated, H-holiday, V-visit, S-Sporting activity etc. Although it is not an official register, this information may provide a talking point at a parents evening. For example it would be unfair to point the finger at a pupil who has been ill, but for someone who has spent a month in the Bahamas and then failed their mock exam, it is quite a different situation. I write ’h/w’ at the bottom of the attendance column if it is a h/w day. There is no way a pupil can then attempt to claim he or she was away when the h/w was given out. I use a retractable pencil - easy to rub out mistakes. Missed h/w and late work are recorded with a red box around them. This makes it more visible and hence easier to keep track of problems and again provides evidence for when you need to take action. Textbook numbers are recorded next to the pupils’ name.
I put a discreet mark next to any pupil who is statemented, has an IEP or who has a medical condition that warrants it (e.g. *2 for stage 2, v or h for visual/hearing impaired, t for toilet requirements etc).
Appearance. As a teacher you are very much like an actor, giving a different performance several times a day to a completely different audience. You are centre stage. Without doubt your appearance will have an effect on the crowd. In your new job you’re a complete unknown and first impressions are important. Consequently it is worth giving some thought to your appearance before the start of term. Dressing to create the right impression is essential, for several reasons: •
Your pupils (or at least most of them!) will expect you to be in charge. If you arrive at the classroom looking as if you don’t even know how to dress yourself, how can they trust you or respect you? If you’re smartly dressed and well groomed you will feel good about yourself, which will increase your confidence. This will, in turn, communicate itself to your pupils and will result in a more positive start and progression through your lessons. If you look like you mean business, you’re half way there.
Believe it or not, several (female) colleagues have admitted to me that their lessons are always better on days when they wear make up! If you can make the effort each day to present a smart exterior then, however you may feel inside, you convey the impression of being in control. You only have to think of the proverbial swan; graceful, serene and beautiful on the surface but paddling like mad underneath! If you are an NQT in your early twenties you may find this advice helpful. On the first day at my new school, in only my second year of teaching, I was mistaken by my entire Year 9 tutor group for a sixth form prefect. I told someone off for swearing in my classroom and they all looked very surprised. Surprise turned to shock when I said, ”Welcome back, I’m Mrs T, your new form tutor”! The problem was that I did look very young, and it was difficult to achieve a distance from my sixth form students in particular because of this. How could they take instructions from someone who appeared to be almost the same age as they were?
With hindsight, I wish I had created a different impression and saved myself a lot of hassle. I would advise anyone in a similar situation to dress to create some distance between you and your students i.e. don’t go to work in clothes of a similar style to them. You don’t have to go to the other end of the spectrum, just give it some thought. A male colleague with a similarly youthful appearance tackled the problem by growing a beard. When it comes to what you should wear there are no hard and fast rules. However, here are a few general pointers: Men: •
Wear a shirt, tie (stylish and modern avoiding cartoons, star trek etc), smart trousers and jacket, or a suit on the first day of term. If you discover that the dress code is more relaxed you can tone it down a little, later. Don’t become the most casually dressed man. Remember that you have to establish yourself. The teacher wearing non-iron trousers and a baggy jumper may have been there for 15 years and have a great reputation. You haven’t! Wear after-shave to give yourself a lift, but don’t douse yourself in it.
Dress in something smart that you feel good in. If your school has a uniform, the kids may resent it if you dress too casually. This includes items such as T-shirts, polo shirts, canvas and denim. Avoid sheer blouses, gaping necklines or very short skirts. Teaching involves a lot of bending over! Wear light make up and perfume if you feel that it will give you a lift.
Everyone: • •
At training days and external courses, with few exceptions, casual dress is the norm. Treat yourself to a couple of new outfits over the summer. You will reap the benefit in September.
• • •
Buy a smart bag large enough for a few A4 files and your lunch. Don’t carry exercise books in this bag. Shoes should be comfortable, as you’ll be spending a long time on your feet! As discussed earlier, dress to maintain a distance from your pupils, but bear in mind that some younger pupils might be scared by power dressing. There is a happy medium somewhere between a city slicker and a slob.
If you are not happy with your wardrobe and finances allow, go on a shopping trip and treat yourself to a few smart outfits and a new bag. This is a positive step in preparing for work but infinitely more pleasant than actually doing any! Whatever the dress code at your school, you’ll find that if you dress smartly you will give yourself a strong advantage. At a time when you may feel nervous or unsure inside, you certainly won’t give anyone that impression as you walk into the classroom looking your best.
Chapter 5 The Summer Holiday
There are many useful things you can do to prepare for the start of term but the most important of all is relax and enjoy yourself. You will be busy enough during the next few months without arriving tired out and stressed on your first day. This chapter contains some suggestions on what is worth doing before the start of term, and what is not. Visit your new school Once you have celebrated your new job, sobered up and the dust has had time to settle, no doubt you will want to visit your new school. The whole point of this visit is to meet your new colleagues in a less pressurised environment than on interview day but more importantly, to treat it as an information gathering day. To ensure success it is worth planning your requirements for this day in advance. An organised Head of Department should be able to pre-empt most of your requirements but planning is still worthwhile because this might be your only opportunity to visit the school before the start of term. You would hate to get to mid August and suddenly find that you are missing an important textbook or set of worksheets that prevent you from planning ahead. As well as the obvious information such as your timetable, group lists (if available), syllabuses, schemes of work, textbooks, worksheets, lesson plans (if available) you would be well advised to find out: • •
• • • • •
how many training days there at the start of term whether there will be any time available on the training day or days for you to get sorted out. This varies but some schools treat training days as exactly that and allow virtually no time at all for preparation how to tell if your teaching groups are mixed ability, setted or banded what are the arrangements for hot drinks; tea money? tea trolley? coffee club? each to their own? just use the geography department’s? etc where your pigeon hole will be where the staffroom and toilets are. You will definitely need the latter on your first morning! where the cover list is displayed how the room numbers work so you can find (or not find!) your first cover lesson how to get photocopying done
• • • • •
how to book other resources – computer room, audio visual or how to order laboratory equipment if you are a Science teacher. The booking procedures will tell you how far ahead you need to be planning. the telephone number of your HoD over the summer holiday will you be a form tutor or will you be an assistant form tutor? how many and what nature of duties you have to do (eg break and bus duty) the calendar for the school year when the school will be open over the summer holiday should you need to visit
An absolutely essential document which you cannot really be without is the staff handbook. Larger departments should also have their own departmental handbook. The staff handbook should contain virtually everything you need to know about how the school functions as an organisation. It will contain many policies, school rules and instructions on how to go about the routine tasks. If possible, obtain this before you make your initial visit because many of your questions will be answered within it. You can than use the time on your visit more efficiently by looking at the specifics not covered in the handbook. A scan through before your visit also gets you off to a good start with your HoD and mentor. In addition to providing answers, the staff handbook will provide you with a feel for the ethos of the school. Is the emphasis on striving for high academic achievement? Is good discipline prominent and do you get a caring, inclusive feel about the school? Is it a school where developing the whole person is more important than the end results? Is the discipline and behaviour policy reward driven or sanction driven? This should tell you a great deal! Lesson Planning This may be uppermost in your mind as the most essential task you can do over the summer. In reality you don’t need to spend several weeks preparing lessons and worksheets etc. When it comes to planning lessons avoid hours of preparation and plan for the first week (or at most the first two weeks) of lessons only. By all means outline where you will go from there but leave the detail until you have started. There are several reasons for this:
When school starts your plans may have to be changed. This could be because your timetable has been altered. You may also find that you have over or underestimated the capabilities of your classes. It is very difficult to ‘guess’ what your students will be capable of before you have met them. Even experienced teachers find this difficult when they move to a new school, so the realistic chances of getting this right are slim. During the summer you will work at a much slower pace than when back at school. You’ll achieve five times as much in an evening during term time because you are “back in gear”, thinking and working in a more efficient manner. The summer is your time and you deserve to spend it enjoying yourself.
Other useful activities In Chapter 2 we discussed the setting up of teaching files and this is a simple but invaluable job that you can do. Take a trip to your local stationary warehouse and stock up on folders, ring binders, file dividers and plastic pockets. Come back and sort all of them out as suggested. You will have a system in place when term starts and you will instantly feel more organised, without actually sitting down and doing some real work. It’s also worth sorting out your financial arrangements while you have plenty of time. Suggestions for this are discussed in Chapter 14. If you set up bank accounts and standing orders now, you can sit back and enjoy your money when your first pay-day comes along. The ideas in Chapter 14 are intended to simplify your finances, leaving you clear about the spare cash available for enjoyment, whilst incorporating bill payments and saving schemes which will run like clockwork. One other worthwhile activity is some background reading. This is especially true if you are a teacher of English, History or Languages at A level. Find out which books or periods you will be covering and read them, making annotations as you go. In addition if you are to be teaching A level in any subject and feel apprehensive in any way (a perfectly natural response), now is a good time to brush up on your own knowledge. Work closely in conjunction with the syllabus that you will be covering.
As a final suggestion, if you can afford to, then do something special in the last week of the holidays, especially the last day! After several years in teaching we took our family holiday at the end of the summer break, rather than the beginning. It was a positive way to end the holiday rather than simply watch the precious time slip by, and we all felt better for it. Whatever your plans for the summer, make enjoyment your priority. Put aside two or three days and work intensively on these days. Far better to do this than lie in the garden for the last two weeks with a lever arch file pretending that you are getting sorted out. We have all tried the ‘files in the park on a hot summer’s day’ tactic when revising at college. It didn’t work then so I doubt it will work now for you. Apart these two or three days, try to keep school firmly in the background.
Section B Chapter 6 The First Week in Your New Job. Just as first impressions count at an interview, they also count when you start your new job. It is, therefore, a good idea to think about your first week and try to make the impression that you would like. If you have followed the advice in Chapter 5 you will have the first week of your lessons planned in detail and this will relieve you of some early pressure to enable you to concentrate on other things. Do not expect to get much time on the professional development days to prepare lessons. This varies from school to school but often you may only get a couple of hours if you are lucky. A training day is exactly that; for staff training, not for preparing lessons. This can be very frustrating but it’s better to be aware of this, rather than relying on this time to get organised. Broadly speaking there are two main areas to focus on during week one; getting off to a good start with your classes and getting to know some staff. Your Teaching Groups Make sure that you don’t hide yourself away in the first few days. The pupils will be eager to see the new French or Chemistry teacher and appearing around the school as a warm, confident person will be to your advantage when pupils enter your classroom. Stop and talk to pupils if they ask you who you are and, whatever you do, don’t bite if someone makes a derogatory comment as you walk by. At this stage it is far better to ignore it. Ensure you are clear about your expectations in each lesson. In other words, plan very thoroughly but don’t be over ambitious, otherwise you may set some classes against you straight away. Chapter 8 deals with discipline and it explains how I approach a new class. Follow this strategy if you feel that you would be comfortable with it, otherwise plan one of your own. I would strongly recommend that you have a standard way of settling a class and then introducing yourself, instead of simply launching into the first lesson. However, I would not recommend giving anything away about your
personal life. e.g. your marital status, where you are living and with whom, age, experience etc, etc. If a pupil asks, and it is likely one will, simply say in a firm (but non-aggressive) tone that it is none of their business and move on quickly before you are drawn into a discussion. If you can, smile appropriately as you introduce yourself. It is the best ice-breaker that I know of. The saying, ‘don’t smile before Christmas’ is from a different era and I don’t believe that it works – if it ever did! Pupils will respond far better to a ‘firm but friendly’ approach. If you try to be a ‘hard case’ you are presenting a challenge for the pupils, a challenge that some will relish. You can win with this approach but you have got to be good at it, and if it isn’t your natural self, it will be unsustainable. In addition it can’t be very satisfying when your whole day is based around putting on a false front. Most importantly, make sure that your first lesson with each class is as inspiring as you can possibly make it. Before you leave each evening, ensure that any photocopying needed for the next day is done and new exercise books and textbooks are counted out and ready. You will start each day knowing that you are fully prepared and this will help you to feel relaxed and confident. If you have a tutor group then it is equally important to get off to a good start. Think about the drills expected as the pupils enter the room or if the head teacher visits the class. This should be in the staff handbook. What is expected during registration, when pupils enter the assembly hall, when pupils have their homework journals checked? List all the points that you think you ought to know. If they have not been covered in the school procedures that you have been given, ask the Head of Year on one of your training days. Don’t assume that they think you will or should know these things already. A good Head of Year would be impressed that you have thought all of these things out in advance. All of the above can be summarised very succinctly: ‘Be prepared and look the part. Your New Colleagues Getting to know some of the staff as early as possible is important, because teachers work as teams. Admittedly you are often on your own with your classes, but behind the scenes you will support, and in turn be
supported by colleagues in your department and the whole school. As you will see in future chapters, there will be many times when you need to ask the advice of other teachers this year. You will feel more comfortable doing this if you have established yourself as part of your departmental team, part of your year team and part of the whole team. Make sure that you get into the staff room at break and lunchtime as often as possible. Don’t hide yourself away in your classroom in the early weeks of the term. If you show willing you will very quickly be accepted in most staff rooms, even though it may seem a little daunting at first. Even if you don’t contribute too much to the conversation initially just be there and enjoy the humour and sarcasm that will inevitably be flying around. The main word of caution is listen to people who try to offer advice and don’t give the impression that you know it all. There is a world of difference between confidence and arrogance. Many NQT’s come into the profession as very competent teachers operating at levels 1 and 2 from their PGCE attainment descriptors. They are by all accounts very good teachers and have great enthusiasm, bringing with them excellent new approaches but, even so, they are far more competent after a year or two. If you start offering too much advice or dismiss the advice of more experienced teachers you will cause friction and this will not create the impression that you want. I am not suggesting for a minute that you creep about as quiet as a mouse not wanting to upset anyone; just tread carefully until you have weighed the situation up. Similarly, when any group of people work together, there will always be allegiances and connections (office politics). It is important that you keep any comments about staff to yourself until you are fully aware of these. The second Head of Department I worked for told a true story during his retirement speech about when he travelled up from Cornwall to Lincolnshire for his interview in the 1970’s. After a long journey, a car was waiting to pick him up at the station and take him to his overnight accommodation in rural Lincolnshire. Passing polite conversion in the car, Stuart asked the female driver; “What is the old man like then?”, meaning ‘is the headmaster OK?’. The lady replied ‘Well he can’t be too bad or else I wouldn’t have married him’.
Chapter 7 Mentors and other Support. There will be many teachers in your new school who will be only too pleased to support you through your induction programme. Without doubt the most important and influential of these will be your mentor. The formal role of mentoring was only introduced in the last few years although it has taken place in a less structured way for many years. It should be seen as a very positive and important support mechanism in which both you and your mentor should gain professionally. The role of mentoring is not paid although it may form part of the responsibilities for a management point such as staff development coordinator. For example, the school may have a person with management responsibilities for staff development and the role of NQT mentoring is often inclusive within this role. Alternatively, your mentor may well be your Head of Department or a Second in Department looking to broaden their own experience before looking for further promotion. It could even be someone with no other responsibilities but with a vested interest in initial teacher training and the subsequent follow up. Whoever it is, the good thing from your point of view is that your mentor is someone who is likely to be someone who has volunteered in order to further their own career. This means they will want to be thorough and hence do a good job. This is much better than having someone who has accepted the responsibility reluctantly. This is why both parties should gain professionally through the experience. The following is a list of duties you should expect your mentor to help you with: •
Acquainting you with the school handbook and explain key policies such as homework expectations, uniform, behaviour policy, rewards and sanctions, report writing, staff duties and the whole school marking policy. Explain how the school works as an organisation including its administrative procedures, contacts with parents, and arrangements for staff, departmental and other meetings. Provide details of your induction programme. Agreeing a timetable to help you review your progress throughout the year.
• • • • • • • • • •
Carrying out frequent lesson observations, discuss and provide oral and written feedback on these. Keeping you informed about your progress with regard to the achievement of professional competence. Encouraging you to develop your teaching skills by extending the range of strategies you adopt. Introducing you to whole school resources and facilities. Helping you to make contact with key staff. Providing guidance on conditions of service, salaries and absence procedures. Discussing with you any teaching problems you may experience. Taking action on your behalf if and when required or refering you to other staff. Co-ordinating INSET requirements. Identifying students with needs that you need to know about immediately (eg, hearing and eyesight impairment, diabetics, aspergers syndrome, potentially volatile students).
Most importantly of all, your mentor is a person who has agreed to provide you with support and professional assistance during your first year as a teacher. It is vital that you establish a good working relationship with this person as quickly as you can. Your mentor is also the person who will ultimately have the most influence in deciding whether or not you have met the induction standards as laid out in Appendix 2. Some traits of good mentoring are listed below: • •
• • •
It is a process in which problems are openly acknowledged and tackled systematically. Agreeing to differ is acceptable in discussions. Protected non-contact time is set aside for both parties for the purpose of mentoring. The NQT has exposure to all facets of a teacher’s duties. (eg provides assistance to a form tutor, assists in development work like developing SoW etc). Both parties develop professionally form the mentoring experience. Both parties work closely and co-operatively together. It is a process based on mutual trust.
Even if you have an excellent mentor and you follow all the advice given so far within this manual, your first year in teaching is still likely to be occasionally a traumatic experience. When problems arise that for whatever reason, you feel unable to discuss with your mentor, who else do you turn to? This largely depends on the nature of the problem, but if you are flexible and open to suggestions you will usually find the solution. It is worth remembering at this stage that, despite all the expectations suggested in the induction standards, nobody will be expecting you to be the perfect teacher from day one and you will always get support from other teachers. We have all been there! It is much better to get a problem sorted out quickly rather than letting it get out of hand. If there is something you really are struggling to cope with then be honest, ask for help. If you don’t get it from one person, ask another but whatever happens don’t feel guilty about needing help! Because difficulties are likely to happen, it is worth doing some ground work as early as possible. Therefore, no matter how busy life may seem in those first few weeks, make the effort to get into the staff room and talk to your colleagues. As a new face, most people will be keen to have a chat and find out about you. By making this initial opening you will gain the support of experienced teachers (probably with hundreds of years of combined teaching experience!!) who will be able to give you a bit of help in general. You may just want to get a difficult lesson off your chest or ask for advice about a particular class or student. Whatever the problem you can be sure most people will relate to it and make a sensible suggestion or two. In this way you can ask for help and receive advice, whilst giving the impression that you are in complete control to any colleagues who may have to make judgements about your performance over the year. Every teacher you work with (almost!), will be pleased to help if you ask for their advice, for several reasons. First, it is very flattering to have someone look to you as a “voice of experience”. Secondly, all teachers have been through the same daunting year that you are now embarking on or in the middle of. We all had difficulties and received the support and encouragement of the people we worked with. It’s a chance for more experienced teachers to return the favour by doing this for you.
Positive requests for support. The way you ask for help is important too. There is a big difference between asking for help and having a good moan! (Again we are talking about creating a positive image, the proverbial swan ‘paddling like fury’ underneath but calm and serene on the surface). For example “I can’t cope with this class, they’re awful and I hate them” is obviously not a positive way to open a conversation with your Head of Department! Alternatively you could try “ I’m having a bit of difficulty with 9H, can you give me any advice?” for a more positive impression. Also, be very careful if complaining about other members of staff. If someone is causing you real difficulties at work and you can’t resolve this face to face do be careful. A good working relationship between colleagues, particularly in the same department, is essential. You could approach your mentor but again be positive. “I’m not really hitting it off with Gordon, we’ve had a few problems. Can I ask you for some advice?” is a much better way round than “I can’t stand working with Gordon, he’s such a miserable ******* and he’s dumped all these grim classes on me”. Tread carefully as you may be working with Gordon for the next five years! If you do need to have a good old moan then do it at home to your family/flatmates/dog etc, or go to the pub on a Friday after work and moan socially. At work, in front of your colleagues, always give a positive impression. At the end of the day, all teachers have difficult times at work, be these job related or personal. On my first day as an NQT I met a colleague who had been teaching for several years, but was also new to the school. As we were smartening up in front of the mirror in the ladies’ she said “Well, this is the place we’ll come when we need to have a little cry.” And of course she was right! So, in order to get through the problems you will undoubtedly face in your first year, make friends with the people who are going through, or who have been through those same stresses and strains.
Chapter 8 Managing Behaviour. For most ITT students and NQT’s this area causes the most concern, and understandably so. Before going any further, you may like to reflect on the following poem: The Teacher. I have come to the frightening conclusion: I am the decisive element in the classroom. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher I possess tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate, hurt or heal. In all situations it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated; a child humanised or dehumanised. Ginott 1972 There are many books written on the subject of classroom management and they vary considerably in the approaches that they suggest. From observing different teachers you will have seen many styles of maintaining control, some more effective than others. There are many
effective ways of developing good discipline and no one way is the right way.
Your Teaching Style. Find a style of teaching and maintaining discipline that suits your personality and that you are comfortable with. You may remember, from your own school days, the strict disciplinarians whose classrooms were as quiet as a library or the shouting teacher heard bellowing instructions from all corners of the school. If this isn’t you then don’t try to adopt this style. A quieter approach doesn’t mean you will be less effective. General do’s and don’ts. Whatever teaching style you adopt, there are some concrete guidelines that you should follow to establish the right reputation at your new school. • • • • •
• • • •
Give the impression that you are looking forward to the lesson and that you like the pupils, even if it isn’t true! Encourage and praise as often as possible, and as early in your lesson as possible. Mark books regularly. Know the school rules in detail. Have your own personal system ready with rewards and hierarchical sanctions. Use and be seen to use the school’s support system. Don’t address the class until you have their complete attention. Use humour and smile, but avoid sarcasm. Have presence in front of the class. Avoid giving out too many punishments but follow every one up. Never give out a punishment to the whole class. Deal with problems at the end of the lesson. Learn names as quickly as possible. Make friends (not enemies) but keep your distance. Carry out every single threat. Be consistent. Get the pupils busy early on in your lesson. Don’t take anything personally!
Positive discipline. Prevention is always better than cure. One of the most important steps in the prevention of discipline problems is for pupils to feel they are benefiting from your lessons. Thus the quality of your lesson planning and delivery has a huge impact on standards of behaviour. If needs be (with an awkward class), begin with something you’re confident they will be able to do. This will build their confidence and get relationships off to a positive start. However don’t overdo this and insult their intelligence. Another key point to prevention is emphasising the positives instead of the negatives. By giving more attention to negative behaviour you are rewarding it, because it was probably done to gain attention in the first place. A telling off (negative attention) is still attention so your pupil has succeeded. That doesn’t mean you should ignore poor behaviour, but do try to spend more time praising good behaviour and good work than criticising poor behaviour and poor work. A 3:1 ratio is something to aim for. Kids need lots and lots of encouragement and praise, far more than you as an adult need. Low ability, special needs and in particular pupils with behavioural problems need even more. Therefore, you need to be praising pupils as soon as you can and as often as you can in your lessons. It is worth watching a child’s response when you praise them. Very often you can visibly see them growing in confidence and also increasing their liking of you and your subject. It doesn’t always happen because there is always an exception to the rule. The begrudging hard case who doesn’t want to give anything away with body language will barely flicker, but you can bet your life, underneath that shield they will be feeling a whole lot better. So remember, praise, praise, praise, as much and as often as possible. It is also well known that all people, not just children, learn better from someone they like. That doesn’t mean becoming their friend but it does mean showing that you enjoy their company.
Marking. Regular marking of books is another important factor that affects discipline, even though marking and behaviour may initially seem unrelated. A Head of Department told me this on my second teaching practice and, although I didn’t believe him at first, I have subsequently seen this work time and time again. If you mark books regularly and give positive comments you will win many pupils over. Get some smiley face stickers – kids love them (even Y11!). By marking regularly, you are showing that you care about your pupils’ progress. You don’t have to mark books every week. On average, if you can mark their books well, once every two weeks you are doing well. If I can, I try to mark more regularly than this at the start of the school year, because I am trying to win as many pupils over as quickly as I can. The more effort you put in at the start of the school year the better your year will be. This is a lucky co incidence because it also happens to be the time of year when you have the most energy. The way you mark books is also important. Three ticks per page and 7/10 – good; at the end is unsatisfactory and students will soon see through the fact that you are not even reading their work. When I was at school myself I remember a good friend putting the Geography teacher’s marking to the test in what was then the third year (now year 9). In the middle of a page about the African jungle and life style of the Bantu he described in full detail what he had put on his toast that morning. Sure enough the page got 3 ticks and a mark at the end for the overall neatness of the work. You can imagine what a triumph it was to my friend Keith, but you can also imagine how quickly the page was shown to the rest on the class and the majority of the year. Do you think we ever respected the Geography teacher’s marking again? It is far better to select certain key pieces of work and mark these in detail using formative comments. That is, using positive comments to praise work but also suggesting ways of improving their work. There are three reasons why this is the preferred method of marking in most schools: • • •
It encourages rather than demoralises students. It sets clear targets for improvement It shows pupils that you care about their work.
Furthermore, Ofsted require that work is marked formatively and are very critical if it is merely ticked for completeness. It is very likely that your school (and possibly department as well) will have a marking or assessment policy in their staff handbook and if so you must aquaint yourself with it before you start. Finally, it is not professionally good enough to just tick and does not meet the induction standards in Appendix 2.
Sanctions Make sure that you read the school and departmental discipline policies in detail before you start. Go through, in your own mind, what procedures you would follow (e.g., extra work, referral to Head of Department or Head of Year, dinnertime detention, after school detention etc) if different incidents occur. If sanctions at a whole school level are not in place, or if they appear too loose, have your own system in place as soon as you can. Don’t start off with a system that you will not be able manage, due to sheer volume. Your system has to be simple and most importantly it has to be known by the pupils. If you have to devise your own system make sure it is hierarchical and in line with whole school policy. That is as the misdemeanour increases the sanction increases in severity. If a problem occurs, ensure that you use this hierarchical system and that you don’t go straight to the worst punishment. If you do, you have no ammunition left and the guilty pupil will know this. What do you then do if the pupil re-offends during the lesson? If a good system of sanctions is in place, as it should be, learn it inside out and apply it to the letter from day 1. Don’t attempt to win your pupils over by being lenient. If there is a whole school system and you do not follow it, you may win one guilty pupil over, but within days half the school will know that you are ‘soft touch’ and then you have problems. What do you do the next time the same offence happens in the same class? If you ignore it again this reinforces your ‘light weight’ image and if you take action you are being inconsistent. Inconsistency is something that, in my experience, pupils will not tolerate. This is why you have to be crystal clear about the school’s, or your own, system of hierarchical sanctions before you start.
Generally speaking pupils will not resent you for giving out punishments. They may not like it at the time, and they may try to wriggle out of it, but they will not resent you. They are children; they are used to making mistakes and being corrected and at times, being punished. It is no big deal to them. However, you think differently. You are an adult and it may have been a long time since you were corrected or punished. You would resent this now but it doesn’t necessarily follow that your pupils will resent you. You are not there to make friends with your pupils. You are there to provide the best education for them that you can. You must keep your distance and maintain a teacher/ pupil relationship, especially with the sixth form (if there is one). You can form very good positive relationships without becoming friends. Never forget: ‘Familiarity breeds contempt’. If you try to befriend a class, nine times out of ten they will take advantage of you and you will not be respected. When your reputation is established and you know that you have gained the respect of a class, the relationship will change but you should let this happen naturally and only with older classes (e.g. Y11 onwards). You will certainly not achieve this in your first term and possibly not even in your first year with a class. You can smile before Christmas but you cannot relax discipline by becoming over familiar. One of the few instances that pupils will resent you for giving out punishments is if you give out a blanket punishment to the whole class. You are inevitably punishing some innocent pupils and this simply isn’t fair. My advice is to avoid getting into this situation at all costs. If you have built up some good relationships with individuals in a class, a blanket punishment is the quickest way to destroy them. You are then even further back than your starting point.
The first lesson. If you suspect that you may struggle to get the attention of a class on the first occasion that you meet them, a good tip is as follows. Whilst they are getting settled, go to the back of the room and ask a pupil for his or her name (e.g. Sam). When you want the attention of the class just say, ‘Sam’. The whole class will look at Sam, then look at you, in stunned silence, and you then have their attention. When you get to know a class better a
good one to try is to walk in and say ‘Today’s lesson is about sex’. You will be able to hear a pin drop! When you introduce yourself and your rules there is no need to do it in a threatening way but it needs to be said as though you mean it. Have a joke or an anecdote up your sleeve to break down any air of resentment that may exist as you begin to impose yourself. Humour is very powerful in classroom control. When I meet a new class I tell them that I only have two rules: 1. 2. One person talks at once. Everyone does their homework.
That’s it! They can all remember these and I regularly repeat them. Clearly, I have more rules than this because I work within the disciplinary framework of the school, but these are my personal rules. They are written on the wall next to the board. I have picked on these two points specifically because over the years these things have niggled me more than anything else. More importantly, however, in stating them I have immediately asserted a degree of control over the class. There is no room for manoeuvre on either of the rules and I go on to explain, in a non threatening manner, why these rules are important and what happens if these rules are broken (i.e. I have my own system in place). One of the best classroom teachers I have worked with simply had two words written above his board: CONSIDERATION and COOPERATION. This was his starting point for establishing the standards he expected of his students. Once introductions and rules have been done, I try to make sure that this first lesson is the best that I can possibly do. I also make sure that their homework is one that they should enjoy, eg design and colour a title page for the new topic. In doing this, yet again, I am trying to win over as many pupils as I can as quickly as I can.
With a middle or low ability class, keep your “talky bits” to an absolute minimum and get them busy doing something interesting as quickly as possible. Instructions and tasks need breaking down into short, manageable chunks that they can cope with. If there are too many steps or each step is too complicated, pupils will be off task and will cause problems because they are bored, frustrated or both. A large number of discipline problems arise because work is pitched at the wrong level and hence pupils are frustrated. It may take a little time to get this bit right but it is essential that you pay this area very close attention. If you are unsure, ask a more experienced colleague for their advice about a particular task before you dive in. Pitching work at the right level is the reason why I suggested not to do too much detailed lesson planning before you start your new job. It would be soul destroying to have prepared an entire unit of work over summer only to find it is set at the wrong level for the group you have been given.
Presence in the classroom. Your presence in front of the class and even around school will affect your classroom management. As soon as pupils see you they will draw conclusions about the type of teacher you are. These will probably be wrong, but will have been discussed and refined in the school yard and will have gathered support. By the time the pupils enter your classroom they will think they have you weighed up. It is therefore to your advantage if you can influence these conclusions. First impressions count, therefore look the part even if you don’t feel it yet. If someone makes a negative comment when you walk by, in the corridor, whatever you do don’t bite – ignore it, you are being tested and you have just won. Your presence comes from your face, haircut, posture and mannerisms; your voice, size, clothes, your expression, eye contact etc. Some of these are beyond your control but most are not. Think about each one and, if it is within your control, decide what you can do about it (or what you want to do about it) to influence the pupils in the way that you want. If you are determined to dress down for work, and to slouch, mumble and stare blankly at the back wall whilst teaching, then that is your choice, but I can guarantee that you will be putting yourself at a disadvantage!
Teething troubles. After a couple of lessons, problems will inevitably arise with some classes, as they decide to test you. Defuse as many of these as you can with humour but when this fails, deal with each incident exactly as you planned. It is best to defer this until the end of the lesson. This is an absolute must for dealing with those who have not done their homework. If you do this at the start of the lesson you will be drawn into discussions; you are then publicly being tested, rather than your pupils. Furthermore it will disrupt the start of your lesson and cause further discipline problems as unhappy pupils rebel. Simply say that you would like to see the following at the end of the lesson about their homework, and add that they are not necessarily in trouble. Another advantage of deferring sanctions until the end is that it gives you some thinking time and keeps the guilty party guessing. When you have got to know a class, every now and then it pays to publicly deal with homework problems, as this reinforces your message with the whole class. With problems such as talking out of turn, hiding someone’s pen and all the other silly things that kids do, try to defuse as many as possible with humour. Have plenty of one liners (already prepared) that the class will laugh at. It really is the most powerful tool that you have at your disposal. However do not be sarcastic and never humiliate anyone. If someone talks out of turn two or three times, punish them exactly as you have planned.
Respect, not fear. Discipline is a far more subtle issue than many people think. I remember early on in my career a teacher saying to me that it was far better for the pupils to respect rather than fear him. After I thought about this and about some of the teachers that I remembered from school, I realised that he was right. The teachers that tried to gain my respect through fear are not the teachers who gained my long-term respect.
Genuine respect for a teacher is deeper and more influential than fear. Good discipline comes from respect, which in turn comes from quality teaching and forming positive relationships, both very individual things. However, a good starting point is to treat pupils as individuals and offer them the respect that you expect from them. Don’t take it personally. There are some pupils that you will never win over, and you just have to accept this. If you can win the majority over then to a certain extent peer pressure keeps the troublemakers at bay. If you can’t win some pupils or classes over, don’t take it personally. Put it down as a learning experience and try to be positive. Don’t do yourself down by saying; “I just can’t control that class”. Instead say; “I’ve eliminated another method of classroom management that didn’t work; I must be much nearer to the solution”. You get the idea!! Finally if you do get off to a bad start with a class don’t despair. If you are a decent person with a personality, this will emerge. In time most classes will warm to you. As classes go, I have had a few shockers in September but almost without exception they have mellowed as the year has progressed. They have gone from being ‘savage’ to ‘fairly hostile’ – a vast improvement!
Chapter 9 Time Management. This section begins with a few quotes you may hear from fellow teachers. “It’s all right getting 13 weeks holiday a year, but half of that time you’re working”.
“You don’t have time for a social life in this job”. “I worked all weekend again”.
Workload is currently a well-publicised problem for the teaching profession, and with good reason. The main teaching unions have ongoing action in an attempt to deal with the problem and without doubt, it is one of the main issues affecting retention of experienced teachers. Pricewaterhouse and Coopers conducted a study into teacher workload during 2001 (see www.teachernet.gov.uk/workloadstudy for the full report). It revealed that most teachers are working over 50 hours a week during term time. As a result of this, the government has acted and agreed contractual changes to the teachers contract from Sept 2003 as part of the ‘School Workforce Reform’ document. As of April 2003, apart from the NUT, most of the main teaching unions have signed up to the agreement. The whole agreement to remodel the school workforce can be found on this CD-ROM. It is for benefit of all teachers and ultimately the whole of those involved in education (including pupils). As a minimum, I would recommend that you familiarise yourself with the contractual changes from page 6 onwards. When I hear teachers making comments such as those above, I can’t help feeling a little annoyed. My response is usually tactful, but I genuinely believe teaching does not have to be like that. I can think of many first class teachers who lead full social lives and find time for their families. They all have different but successful ways of managing their time. The one thing they have in common is that they have decided to keep the job in perspective. Most of them have a system or routine that fits into their family or social situation and they stick to it. The routine I describe
worked for me for several years as a main scale teacher but it may not suit you. If it doesn’t, devise one of your own to suit your own circumstances. Fairly early on in my teaching career I realised there were many things I wanted to do to try and be a good teacher but there were also some things I didn’t want to do if I could possibly help it. I didn’t want to work in the school holidays, at weekends or past 9pm on weekdays. To achieve this I did the following: Plan Ahead. It is more efficient to plan blocks of lessons rather than plan each lesson individually the night before. When I started out I would plan a unit of work (6 to 10 lessons) for each group. There are several advantages for this method: • • • •
It results in a more coherent series of lessons. It buys time to prepare or look out for any resources needed for future lessons. In the long run, time is saved because you don’t have to change your train of thought or get out different textbooks as often. It is good practice to plan ahead.
Once your teaching files become complete and you are not changing the lessons as much (see chapter 3), it is possible to plan several weeks ahead. I tend to plan half a term of work in advance now and it takes about two hours. In order to do this: • • • •
Print out the required number of weekly organiser sheets. Eliminate any lessons that will not take place due to trips etc by checking the school calendar. Simply fill in the lesson titles for each week. Expand on these later if you wish using the daily organiser sheets.
Again there are advantages to this method:
It saves time. Although some slack is necessary for clarification and further practice of work not understood, it is not good practice to dawdle. This method ensures that the class is moving on at a pre-determined pace so that
the correct work is covered before key dates such as exams. Those who don’t plan ahead are the people who do not finish the syllabus and give their classes a pile of photocopied notes to learn just before study leave starts.
To summarise, planning ahead saves time and saves embarrassment. •
Use all free periods productively.
In your free periods avoid working in the staff room, as there will be too many distractions. Try to find somewhere quiet where you can really get on. Some schools have a “quiet room” which is ideal, otherwise use an empty classroom in your department. Go into the staff room in your free periods and you may often see people sitting in cosy groups, with exercise books on laps and red pens in hands – half working, half socialising. Guess what they are talking about? ‘I worked all day on Sunday’ and ‘I spent half of the Easter holidays catching up on my marking’. •
Do half an hour of marking at lunchtime.
At lunchtime I always go into the staff room because it gives me a break from the kids and I enjoy the humour that is always flying about. However, after half an hour I usually feel recovered enough to go and do some marking. I would much rather spend half an hour working at dinnertime than at home. I take the view that I go to work to work. •
Do half an hour of marking before morning registration.
I arrive at school early and get at least half an hour’s work done before registration. This time is absolutely invaluable. Since school is relatively quiet and I’m not tired yet, I can usually get loads done. •
Work until 9pm from Monday to Thursday.
In the evenings I do whatever is necessary to leave the weekends and holidays free. I am willing to make this sacrifice during the week because I will reap the rewards at the weekend. However, I never work past 9pm as my mind is too active and I cannot sleep properly.
Very occasionally do some work on Friday evening. In my early days of teaching I would often do a couple of hours of work on a Friday night, before going out. It was very difficult to force myself to do this, but I enjoyed the night out and the rest of the weekend much more because of it. If I leave things until Sunday night it’s hanging over me all weekend and inevitably is in my thoughts. Sunday night is bad enough without having to work. To overcome the ‘Monday Blues’ which usually accompany a Sunday night we try to do something enjoyable such as cooking a meal or going out.
I accept that during particularly busy times, such as at exams or report time, or before an Ofsted inspection, I may have to bend the rules a little. However, I do not work at weekends or during holidays unless it is absolutely essential. This is my coping strategy.
Some other suggestions you may wish to consider when developing your own coping strategy are: • ‘Goodwill’ is a school’s most precious resource and so must not be abused. Never say YES to something that will impinge on your time without thinking it through. If asked to take something on whilst rushing about or in the middle of doing something else, simply say ‘let me think about’ and do exactly that. • Identify things of your own that you are not prepared to do. • Decide each day what is urgent and what is not and make lists in your diary or organiser. • Handle each piece of paper only once! Do not look at something until you have the time to do something about it. • Avoid flitting from task to task. • Avoid starting a job several times by ensuring that when you start you have sufficient time to finish. • Use administrative staff for routine jobs such as photocopying, copy typing, anything that is reasonable for you not to do. • Read and follow the NASUWT ‘Time for a Limit’ campaign. Ask any teacher and they will be able to tell you what this is.
Family and friends If you are a single teacher your time may be relatively your own. However, when you are in a relationship or have children, good time management becomes essential. As an NQT there may be times when you feel swamped by your workload and your responsibility to your family. I try to eat with my family when I get home and spend a little time with them, to recharge my batteries and catch up on the days events before getting down to work. We also eat breakfast together and, although this is occasionally stressful, at least we’ve spent the time talking to each other rather than watching the news or reading the paper. I’m lucky that my job allows me to do this with them, as most of the working parents I know leave earlier and finish much later than me. Although I can’t spend hours with my children on weekday evenings, I try not to feel guilty about this. I don’t work at the weekend unless it is absolutely essential and I feel my kids are lucky to have parents who can take thirteen weeks holiday a year. The stresses and strains of teaching are very difficult for your family to understand and cope with, so try not to forget about your partner, if you are lucky enough to have one to support you through your NQT year. In Summary One of the main ingredients for success is to have self-discipline. In your first year you will have to work at weekends and sometimes in the holidays, but do everything within your power to minimise this. If you spend most of your holidays and weekends working you will not have a chance to recover and recharge your batteries. As a consequence you may find your enthusiasm for the job suffers, and this will undoubtedly affect your teaching. You may even find that your health will suffer. If you deprive yourself of recovery time in the holidays you are losing one of only two perks of being a teacher. The other is that you can have as much chalk as you can eat! Teaching is your job; important, worthwhile and satisfying, but nonetheless it is a job and not a sentence. At the end of the day who is happiest, the person who lives to work or the person who works to live?
Chapter 10 Living with Pressure and Stress. All teachers are under pressure. Diagnosing when pressure crosses a threshold and becomes stress is not easy, but that is one of the intentions of this chapter. Following the advice from earlier chapters should help you to cope with the pressures of teaching and hence minimise the stress that you will be under during your NQT year. However, teaching falls into the category of a highly stressful occupation and it is well known that NQTs experience higher than normal levels of stress. This needs to be recognised and, if possible, managed. More experienced teachers will have strategies in place to cope with the pressures of teaching and this is why the idea of routine was emphasised in Chapter 9, on time management. As an NQT, it is in your best interests to adopt, adapt or develop your own strategies for coping as quickly as possible. This isn’t meant as a ‘prophesy of doom’, rather, a reality of being a teacher. What is Stress? It is the reaction of the body to a difficult or threatening situation and is usually associated with circumstances: • • • • •
Which are new and unfamiliar. Which are unpredictable. Over which you have little or no control. In which you feel that you are under pressure to perform at a high level. Where much appears to depend on what you achieve.
Unfortunately, as an NQT, you fit the bill for several (or possibly all) of these. A certain amount of pressure can be a good thing because it helps you perform at your best. This is positive pressure and can be of assistance in situations such as interviews. However beyond a certain point, pressure becomes stress and this can have a negative, and in severe cases, devastating effect. The point when positive pressure becomes negative pressure (stress) is when perceived demand is greater then perceived ability to cope. Note the deliberate use of the word perceived. Up to this point, most teachers respond well to positive pressure. The trick is to
maintain performance at this optimum level and find ways of recognising when the equilibrium has been lost. You can then implement strategies to rectify the situation before it causes problems. Likely effects of stress at work may take the form of: • • • • •
Poor personal organisation – eg flitting from task to task Missing deadlines Increased confrontations with students (and possibly colleagues) Unwillingness to take advice Frustration leading to aggression (looking for someone to blame)
If unchecked, it will undoubtedly lead to problems in your personal life too. These could take the form of: • • • • •
Withdrawal from social activities Loss of sex drive Breakdown of relationships Feeling run down and being more susceptible to disease Loss of confidence and self esteem
Research has shown that NQTs fall into the ‘high risk’ category because of the following factors: • • • • •
Pressure of workload (especially the amount of time spent on lesson preparation) Problems with the need to form too many working relationships (students and colleagues) Having too many bosses (head of department, head of year and a mentor) each with a slightly different agenda Setting yourself unrealistic objectives The number of different tasks expected in addition to teaching, such as lesson preparation, marking, meeting report deadlines, attending meetings, general administration Lack of power leading to more confrontations with students Difficulty in gaining access to information, equipment or resources
If you were in any doubt before, you should now know that being an NQT means you are likely to be subjected to the kind of pressure which can lead to stress. You now need to be able to recognise when and if you have reached the point where one gives way to the other so that you can act quickly. Research shows that stress falls into four main categories: • • • •
Physical – indigestion, heartburn, headaches, fatigue and possible loss of sex drive Mental – worry, indecision, making more mistakes than usual and muddled thinking Emotional – irritability, depression, feeling tense, lack of enthusiasm Behavioural – overworking, unsociability, restlessness, insomnia and loss of appetite
As pressure and the resultant stress increase, more of these symptoms will become apparent. It is therefore important that you are vigilant and monitor your own symptoms, should they occur. The ‘Self Help’ folder on the CD-ROM contains a ‘diagnosing pressure and stress’ activity (exercise 1). I obtained a version of this on a management course but I think it is equally valid for NQTs. At various points throughout the year it would be worthwhile printing the sheet off the CD-ROM and seeing how you score. Below is a comprehensive list of suggestions for minimising and avoiding stress obtained from the same course material. Again this is on the CD-ROM (exercise 2) so it can be printed off and filled in as you see fit. Within your job:
1. 2. 3. 4.
Admit when things are getting too much. Learn to say NO. Avoid trying to shoulder everyone else’s problems. Delegate tasks to students (eg fetching the register, collecting merits, collecting and giving out worksheets, glue, scissors, etc, etc). The more monitors you have, the better. This makes the students feel important too. 5. Establish a routine (Chapter 9) and stick to it.
6. Set aside half an hour a day when you can think things over without interruptions. 7. Make lists in your diary or on your organiser sheets and prioritise them. 8. Don’t waste time on low priority tasks. You are probably just putting off a high priority task. 9. Plan ahead to avoid crisis and pace yourself. 10. Make sure the battles you fight are worth fighting. Sometimes it is just not worth it. 11. NEVER take your mistakes personally 12. Have some fun at school either with colleagues or classes you have developed a good rapport with.
Looking after yourself:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Pay attention to the messages your body sends you. Get at least 8 hours of sleep. Exercise regularly or use a different stress busting activity! Make the most of weekends and holidays (see Chapter 9) Make sure you spend time with family and friends to help put the job into perspective. 6. Avoid self-pity and the company of negative people (moaners, grumblers, and traffic wardens). 7. Talk over your fears with your mentor.
However else you deal with pressure and who ever else you blame, never make pupils, either singly or collectively the scapegoat. This is bordering on unprofessionalism and simply isn’t fair. Part of coping with pressure involves a degree of self-analysis and being prepared to act to correct faults in yourself, or situations over which you have a degree of control. Problems that fester inevitably get worse. So, if you acknowledge a degree of scapegoating in how you react to negative pressure you must step back from the situation, reflect and: • • •
realise that your opinion of a situation or of someone else is distorted and is just a convenient way of offloading your problems remember that you have support mechanisms in place and seek guidance challenge the evidence and look for positives in the situation or person
As was mentioned earlier, when the level of demand placed on your ability to cope is in equilibrium, pressure is a positive source of energy – it keeps you healthily ‘busy’ (hardly likely to be anything else as an NQT) and enables you to give of your best. It is when the demand increases that pressure becomes a negative force. This is important to remember because it is not your ability to cope that has changed and therefore feelings of inadequacy and lowering of self-esteem are irrational and illogical. One of the most frequently observed responses to negative pressure (stress) is the feeling of isolation. A feeling that you are the only person ever to have been placed in such a predicament. This is where fellow NQTs from your school, or PGCE friends can be invaluable. You are all ‘in it’ together and the realisation of this in itself can be comforting in a strange way. It is also common to start looking at other colleagues and feel an unfairness in your situation: ‘Why do I have to do that? They don’t do that in the maths department. The NQT’s at ******* School don’t have to do that’ etc etc. In other words your first reaction is negative. Again I return to the principal of positive thinking for a way out: • • •
Try to turn negative thoughts into positive ones Remember, even the stately swan is paddling like mad underwater If you are asked to contribute to something extra (eg-write a scheme of work) see it as a compliment. You must have developed respected ideas and skills very early in your career. Instead of being oversensitive to what others seem not to be doing, observe what they are doing – you may be surprised.
Pressure has a life of its own: the more negative pressure you are under the less inclined you feel about doing things and this adds to the pressure. Many teachers have faced this situation and doubtless many more will in the future. The inevitable result is stress and ultimately breakdown. Exercise is one answer but is often allowed to lapse because ‘you can’t find the time’ and so the pressure builds again. As with all things, prevention is better than cure. Therefore above all else, talk about it. Observe colleagues closely and find out how they cope:
• • • •
What strategies and systems do they have in place? Which ones would work for you. How do they switch off? How do they find time to ….
All of these are available ‘on-tap’ in the staff room for you to adopt. It is just a casing of finding out, which again comes back to the advice given in chapter 7 on ‘Mentors and other Support’: Get into the staff room and get to know some people as soon as you can. The chances are you will need their advice at some stage. Another form of prevention is to analyse the situation you find yourself in by finding the pressure points and isolating them. Completion of Exercise 6 in the ‘Self Help’ folder of the CD-ROM does this. It enables you to focus your attitude towards aspects of your work as the main cause of pressure and at the same time it helps put things into perspective because there is scope to be positive. Use this as a starting point to develop your own coping strategy. In addition to exercise 6, chapter 9, the ideas already mentioned and those you have gleaned from fellow teachers, you may wish to include some of the following thoughts in your coping strategy:
Concentrate on your most important duty – classroom teaching. If you put in the time and effort to get this right, everything else will follow. Never say ‘YES’ to a request in the corridor. Take time to consider requests made of your time. If ‘NO’ is the best option, feel no guilt, just say NO and don’t feel obliged to back this up with a rational reason. For example: Just because you are interested in football does not mean you should fill the vacant Y9 team manager position. Likewise, just because you enjoy the theatre, does not mean you need be a leading light managing the Christmas performance. Identify the things that you are not prepared to do as well as those that you will do. Assess the demands on your time quickly and calculate the consequences of not doing it. Accept that you cannot do everything you would like to in your NQT year.
Allow yourself time to feel calm at school. Avoid starting a task or discussion with a pupil/colleague knowing full well that the bell is about to go and you need to be somewhere else.
Finally and most importantly of all, be assertive with yourself, recognise the signs and don’t let the job take control.
If you have tried everything and still feel you cannot cope, it just might be that teaching is not for you. It does not suit everyone. If this really is the case you have to be realistic and put your health first.
Chapter 11 Parents’ Evenings One of the more awkward occasions for teachers, new and old, can be the Parents’ Evening. You are again on full view, performing in front of anxious parents, and possibly your students and colleagues too. There are several ways to make things run more smoothly. Appearance Appearance create the right school the dress considerably for approach. Evidence Parents want to know how their child is getting on, therefore, arm your self with a well-organised and FULL mark book! This may sound mercenary, but you’ll feel much more confident talking to parents if your mark book appears to be bursting with work which you have marked. This not only gives the parents information about their child’s progress, it also lets them know you are a person they can trust with their child’s education. Manner The manner with which you address parents is as individual as your teaching. Find a way that works best for you. For example, some people like to stand up and shake hands when the parents arrive. Others prefer a less formal approach. Take note of the way your colleagues handle parents’ evenings and adapt this to suit yourself. Treat parents with respect and don’t make judgements about them based on their appearance or their offspring. I can’t tell you exactly what to say but there are a few general guidelines to follow: is even more important than in the classroom. Dress to impression and give yourself confidence. At my first code was very relaxed but everyone smartened up parents’ evenings. SMILE at the parent(s) as they
• • •
To avoid embarrassment, announce the pupil’s name rather than their parents’. Parents may not necessarily be Mr and Mrs. If only one parent turns up avoid any reference to the other one as this could also cause distress. Try to emphasise the positive points first, to get the parents on your side. If the student is present, ask them how they think they are getting on in your subject. This gives you a basis for discussion. If you praise a student in front of their parents they usually respond very well. It can be a powerful way of winning over a student who is on the fringe of causing trouble. I have had some good results after doing this, even with hardened Y11 lads! If there are any problems with the student (e.g. homework and/or behaviour), you must be honest with the parents as this is your one chance to discuss your student with the people who can really make a difference. However, if you have to criticise, remember that your grievance is with the child and not the parent, so do not adopt a tone of voice that blames them. Always show respect, no matter how you may feel. Never waffle. If you get stuck, ask the parents if they have any questions or worries they wish to discuss. If they don’t, wind things up and ask for the next parent. You do not have to fill the 5 or 10 minute time slot. I rarely do. For some parents all that is needed is reassurance that their child is doing well. If this is the case, say that quickly and meaningfully and then follow the above step. Should anyone ask something you are unable to comment on, refer them to your Head of Department.
You will find parents’ evenings quite tiring, so try to organise the rest of your week to avoid heavy marking etc. Most importantly - don’t take anything personally, don’t do any work when you go home and treat yourself to a bottle of wine, a few beers, several bars of chocolate or whatever helps you to relax.
Chapter 12 Positive Thinking. 1. Self-image and self-esteem.
Before reading this chapter, do exercise 3 in the ‘Self Help’ folder on the CD-ROM. This exercise helps you to assess your present selfimage/self-esteem. If your score seems on the low side, don’t panic. Firstly, this is just one person’s view of what high self-esteem is and secondly, it shows you what you think your self-esteem is, not what it really is. As you went through scoring, you probably noticed that certain things indicated high self-esteem whilst others indicate low self-esteem. In fact, the true answers to the odd numbered statements indicate high self-esteem whilst true answers on the even numbered statements reflect low self-esteem. Go back and look at the questions that indicate low self-esteem and ask yourself why the question, and your answer, is important. Why does this indicate that you don’t think as highly about yourself as you might. Make a decision as to whether or not you want to change in that area. For example if you put down that you are constantly sensitive to other people’s opinions about you, you may feel that this is a virtue. That’s fine so long as it doesn’t mean you care so much about what other people think that you pay little attention to what you think. Having high self-esteem is beneficial not only in teaching but also in life generally. When you encounter a new situation, as all NQT’s do daily, you create in your own mind an expectation as to how well you will handle this challenge. Those with high self-esteem genuinely believe that they will succeed with each new situation and as a result they usually do. On a conscious level, you may anticipate success, but a low self esteem will subconsciously determine an expectation that is lower than what you would you like to achieve. Unfortunately or not, expectations have a very high impact on what you actually achieve. In other words; if you expect to perform badly, you will. If you expect to have a bad lesson, the chances are you will. If you expect to have a good lesson and genuinely believe this, the chances are you will.
If you expected a bad lesson and duly delivered, what happens then? - You evaluate your performance. You sit in judgement on yourself and you put yourself down. You become critical of yourself. This self-criticism lowers your self-esteem further and the ‘self-defeating cycle’ begins again. Your toughest critic is you. How often do you praise yourself for something however minor, you have done, and done well? When you evaluate yourself, you rarely praise yourself. Perhaps it is in our nature to be modest but modesty doesn’t mean cutting yourself down harder then you would with any other human being. The net result of this negative selfevaluation can only be a damaging experience. From a young age, we are conditioned that patting yourself on the back is a bad character trait and to be self-critical is a good trait. As you can see from an understanding of the self-defeating cycle, this must be wrong. In fact the opposite is true. You need to put yourself up more than you put yourself down. A similar idea was discussed in chapter 8 when dealing with discipline. You should you aim for a 3:1 ratio of praising good behaviour to criticising poor behaviour. You are a person too so you should deal with yourself as you would other people. In other words, put yourself up three times as often as you put yourself down. After all when you try new things, the chances are you are going to make some mistakes. The majority of the lessons you take in your NQT year are going to be new, so be realistic and don’t be hard on yourself when you are not perfect. We have all taught poor lessons and no matter how experienced you are, every now and then a shocker comes along. It is a fact of life as a teacher but we don’t go home, smash the telly, slump into a corner and decide we aren’t up to the job. You are simply thankful that there wasn’t an Ofsted Inspector in the room and get on with it. A more positive way of evaluating a new lesson that didn’t go to plan would be: “I made a mistake. I was trying something new and I can learn something from that mistake. Next time I will do that lesson better”. Self-esteem can be fragile and is certainly vulnerable in your first year in teaching. Make a promise to yourself that you will do everything possible to protect it by putting yourself up instead of down.
The Self-Defeating Self-Image Cycle. “Do not find fault; find a remedy” “A person who never makes a mistake is a person who never does anything”
We have just discussed how your self-image and self-esteem generate your expectations when you encounter a new challenge. Your expectations have a large impact on your performance and therefore having high expectations is the right way to think as you start out in your teaching career. We have also discussed how having high expectations inevitably leads to disappointment and self-evaluation after a lesson or a new idea was tried and didn’t quite go to plan. This evaluation process will no longer be written down as it was during your ITT but probably mulled over in your head as you drive home. It is inevitable that you will make mistakes during your first year and every other year. Therefore, this evaluation, in many cases, will be more negative than positive, and as a result your self-image and selfesteem could be lowered. The self-defeating, self image cycle is shown below:
EXPECTATIONS PERFORMANCE SELF-EVALUATION
Negative self-talk also lowers self-esteem. Self-talk means when you are describing your abilities, traits, characteristics, experiences, strengths and weaknesses to other people. There are two extremes and the extreme that 95% of people shy away from is being a BIG HEAD. This is to be applauded. However that doesn’t mean that you have to go to the other end of the spectrum and completely down yourself in an attempt to be modest.
Therefore as an idea to break the self defeating self image cycle, refer to exercise 4 in the ‘Self Help’ section of the CD-ROM and print out the reminders: “PUT YOURSELF UP or SHUT UP”. Stick them in a place where you will regularly see them. The whole idea is to remind you to avoid negative self-talk by not putting yourself down. One year I stuck one at each side of my board. (You must be thinking the side of my board is a mass of little reminders by now!) It certainly made me think about the way I talked to others about myself. However, it also made me aware of how I talked about other people (including students). I had become quite negative, even cynical and hadn’t really noticed this. I am now very aware that I easily fall into this pattern of ‘negative talk’ especially as the end of term approaches and I begin to get very tired. As a result of being aware, I am able to try to do something about it. In our quest to be modest, I think we can do ourselves damage by constantly putting ourselves down. Negative self-talk can become a kind of defence mechanism against criticism and rejection. It is a bit like the saying: ‘Get the first punch in”. If you get the first criticism in of yourself, you have ‘stolen the thunder’ of the person who may have been (but more then likely wasn’t) about to criticise you. It may be a worthwhile exercise to become very self-conscious for a day and see how you have unwittingly programmed yourself to fail with your negative self-talk. Take note of all the times you use statements like:
I can’t do …. I can’t help … I haven’t enough time …. I haven’t enough ….. I can’t control …… I’ve never been very good at ….. I’ve never understood ….. There I go again. I always do that. I’ve always had a poor …… I find it difficult to ….
Having listened to yourself for a day, write down all of the negative, self-limiting statements that you have made about yourself. As a way of modifying these damaging statements, do exercise 5 on the ‘Self Help’ section of the CD-ROM. It won’t be an overnight cure, but like me, hopefully it will make you think. Just like everything else in life, you have a choice and you have to live with the consequences. In making your choice about changing your selftalk there is another point to consider. Other people (including students) will react to you the way you tell them to. This may seem like an odd thing to say but I believe it is true. What you do, the way you dress, or the way you introduce yourself, tells other people how to treat you. In most cases people will go along with you. If you expect respect and consideration, you will get it, not from everyone, but from the majority. If you expect to be ignored or laughed at you will get that too. The important thing to realise is that you are in control. You determine how other people respond and you determine how you respond. It is therefore in your best interests that you tell yourself to respond as positively as possible to each new situation that you have to face. By the same token, it is also in your best interests to evaluate your own performance as positively as possible.
“Take charge of your thoughts. You can do what you want with them.”
Chapter 13 Keeping Healthy. Always consult your doctor if you have any worries about your health. During your first year of teaching you will be incredibly busy. When faced with such a hectic lifestyle it is all too easy to forget about yourself. However, maintaining your health and indeed increasing your energy levels will not only help you through your first year but may be the difference between success and failure. You are the one who is leading your lessons and hence your day. Unlike many office-based jobs, in teaching there is nowhere to hide. Be it a heavy cold, a hangover or morning sickness, if you are in school your classes and colleagues are counting on you to do the business. Prevention is always better than cure and on this subject, let common sense prevail by doing some or all of the following: • • •
Register with a doctor and dentist as soon as you move to a new area. Take a multivitamin supplement daily. Eat lots of fruit. Always eat breakfast before work, even if it’s simply a banana and a glass of milk or orange juice. Avoid drinking more than six cups (preferably less) of tea or coffee per day. About two years ago, I decided to drink decaffeinated coffee at work. It took about 2 weeks to adjust to this after which I definitely felt less jumpy and more controlled in my reaction to confrontations. Even if you are not particularly sporty, take some exercise e.g. a twenty minute walk. If you enjoy sport, then take the time to continue your interests. You have a right to do things for your own enjoyment and vigorous exercise is the 2nd best stress-buster that I know of! Exercise also increases your energy levels during the rest of the day. Aim to allow yourself 7 or preferably 8 hours of sleep on school days. If possible, stop working at least an hour before you go to bed or your mind will be too active to sleep properly. If you like a drink then that’s fine. However, try not to get into the habit of drinking every night to relax. It may seem like a short-term solution but you never sleep as restfully with alcohol in your system.
Illness. If you are ill it is not your fault and you should have no feelings of guilt. If you have a cold or flu etc, and you go into work then you have every reason to feel guilty because you may be infecting the staff, the pupils and ultimately their families. In other words when you are genuinely ill, STAY AT HOME. If you are not 100% fit you cannot do your job effectively. If you try to struggle in and be a martyr ultimately you will be the loser. No one is irreplaceable, not even you. The school managed before your arrival and will continue to manage in your absence. Get your priorities right and always put your health first. Many schools have an insurance policy to cover staff absence, which kicks in after you have been away for five or so days. If you return to work too early and are then sick again, it takes another week to qualify for the insurance. For this reason, if you are absent for more than a week, do not feel guilty and do not go back to work unless you are totally recovered. The school can now pay a supply teacher to cover your lessons so everyone is relatively happy. Some teachers will not take a day off because they believe it will just mean more work when they come back. I strongly disagree with this. When you come back there will be some catching up to do but pace yourself, and if a task is non essential, don’t do it. Explain to a class that their books haven’t been marked because you have been unwell and, generally speaking, they will understand and accept this. A quote that you may like to think about from a GP visited by a teacher friend of mine is ‘most of my patients who have genuine stress problems are teachers’. If your work is piling up and you feel unable to get through the backlog, try not to get into a state about it. Pace yourself and prioritise. If you reach a stage of being unable to sleep because you are worried about your job or your workload, consult your doctor. The first rule of teaching is to put your health first!!
Chapter 14 Money 1. Managing Money.
Teachers need to be able to laugh at themselves and others. We hope that whilst reading this section, you have a laugh at us. It is intended to be a bit ‘tongue in cheek’ and is certainly not intended as financial advice. It is a description of ideas, some of which have worked for us over the years and it may be diametrically opposed to your views. Some people are naturally good at managing their money whilst others are almost ‘proud to be hopeless’. Whichever category you think best describes you, hopefully you will get some ideas from this section. There are plenty of financial ideas we have tried and failed at, some more bizarre than you may imagine, and yes, one involved horse racing! So please don’t think we are sitting on our pedestal and have it all sewn up. We certainly don’t but we hope you derive some ideas and entertainment value from what follows: I organise my money using four different bank accounts:
1. 2. 2. 4.
Current account Budget account Savings account Personal account
Current Account. My salary is paid into a joint current account along with my wife’s. By pooling our salaries it is easier to keep track of our finances. About two thirds of our monthly money immediately goes into other accounts, by standing orders executed on the same day as my salary is paid in. (If you don’t know how to set up a standing order, contact your bank and they will do all of the leg-work for you.) Whatever remains in this account is for everyday living expenses i.e. groceries, petrol, going out, unplanned car bills, newspapers, magazines etc, etc.
Whatever remains at the end of the month gets paid into my savings account but it usually is very little or nothing. However this doesn’t worry me because I have made provision for saving. Budget Account. This account deals with every bill that I expect to pay during a year. At the moment about half of my salary is transferred into this account. Again this does not bother me. I accept that I have to pay these bills in order to live. I can grumble as much as I like but I still have to pay them, so the best thing to do is to make it as painless as possible and enjoy what’s left. To set up a budget account, write down every planned bill, loan repayment or regular expense that you expect to have to pay in the next year. Include all utility bills even if you have to make estimates at this stage. Then simply add them all together and divide by 12. This is how much you need to transfer from your no. 1 Current account into your no. 2 Budget account. Wherever possible, make payments from this account by standing order or direct debit, to avoid the inconvenience of writing and posting cheques. Once set up, a budget account runs like clockwork and you never have to worry about paying bills again. Ten minutes a month will be all you need to spend, checking that things run smoothly. A locked example of my monthly budget can be found in the Teachers Organiser folder. As you can see, I have set this up on a spreadsheet. This is not because I am sad; I simply want to save time for more important and more interesting things. Once set up on a spreadsheet, when a bill changes as they always do, it is very easy to see if the new total expenditure is covered by what you are paying into the account. The accompanying disc also contains an unlocked spreadsheet template, incorporating the necessary calculations for you to complete your own monthly budget plan. In the first few months you will probably adjust the amount that you transfer into this account as you gain a better indication of the size of utility bills etc. The beauty of a budget account is that you never have to worry about paying a bill (unless of course your car packs up). The whole year’s bills have been averaged so that you never get a nasty surprise. It is a good idea to set up an overdraft facility on this account because there will be more money coming out of this account in some months than others.
Savings Account. As a teacher you have a very demanding job and you deserve to go on holidays and buy decent cars. In other words you deserve to treat yourself with some major purchases. That is the purpose of this account. As a rule of thumb you should try and save at least 10% of your salary, and preferably more. Like most things in life there is a balance. In this case the balance is between enjoying the present but making provision for the future. By the future, I don’t mean retirement. You already pay into a good pension scheme although it would be well worth considering taking out an AVC (additional voluntary contribution) if you plan to retire early. What I mean by this is the near future. That is, you need to treat yourself at the end of, or during the school year. If you simply blow all of your money down the pub at the weekends, you will feel that you are getting nowhere. You’ll have nothing to show for all your hard effort and this will not help you to feel positive about your work or life. Saving a planned amount on pay-day is far better than hoping something will be left at the end of the month. There won’t be anything left at the end of the month, because people automatically spend up to their limit. Save on pay-day and you will not miss the money, because it was never in your current account to start with. Personal Account. This one is optional. I started this account when we had children and my wife started to teach part time. As far as I am concerned we both work hard and should therefore have the same amount of spare money, regardless of who is bringing the most money home. I’m not trying to be politically correct, it’s just common sense and fair. It avoids all of those awkward discussions and feelings of guilt and envy. Therefore we each have a personal account with a small amount (£75 at present) paid in each month. This money is mine to do what I want with. If I want to blow it all on the horses I can, no questions asked. In reality I tend to use this money for clothes and CD’s.
Summary. • Decide on a system that you think will work for you in your current situation. Open all the accounts before September so that it is one less thing to worry about. There is no limit to the number of accounts that you can have with one bank. Alternatively use different banks for each account. Stick to your system. The main ingredient for success is to have selfdiscipline. Avoid moving money from one account to another simply to prevent it going overdrawn. If you have to do this regularly you will need to adjust the standing orders that transfer money into each account. To overcome temptation in your savings account you could find one that requires 30 or even 90 days notice to make a withdrawal. Alternatively use a Tessa or ISA which is automatically more difficult to gain access to. Don’t be afraid to open more accounts if it will help with your situation. My wife recently opened a Christmas account. We pay £50/month into this so that at the end of the year we have £600 to spend on presents, food and alcohol. This would be a lot to find out of a November and December pay packet, but averaged over the year it becomes painless. We deliberately have not got a cheque book or debit card with this account but in December we will transfer the whole lot into our current account. One phone call is all that is needed. A very good source of information about all aspects of money, be it internet banking, mortgage advice or taking out a loan is the Money section of The Sunday Times. As you get your money well organised, I would recommend doing the same for all your personal documents. Set up a “home file” with sections divided for utilities bills, car documents, insurance policies, mortgage information etc. This is unbelievably helpful when you need to change something in your budget account, or check when your MOT runs out. As with a budget account this reduces the chances of a nasty shock, such as losing your drivers licence or even worse, your passport in the third week of July.
Although our salary is not great for a professional we are not at the bottom of the pile as many staff room “gloomsters” would have you believe. Over the past five years, the salary has improved considerably and is no longer the main issue affecting recruitment, retention or status. I sometimes hear people say that they could go into industry or commerce and double their money overnight. This is not true. I know, from first hand experience, that a typical chartered engineer working in industry with 10 years post graduate experience earns a similar amount to a typical teacher with 10 years experience. You can always find an example of a high earning industrialist but with a series of improvements over recent years, we are comparable with the norm. I am not saying that either profession is correctly rewarded, merely dispelling a myth that I often hear. I am sure you are aware that you will not become rich as a teacher. However, with careful management you can be comfortable and, unlike some high earning professions, you have 13 weeks holiday a year in which to enjoy your money.
“With careful management” to quote the last paragraph. What does that mean? Over the last few years this is a new area of our personal finances that we have woken up to. However, if you are happy to keep a £3000 balance on your credit card, shop exclusively at designer stores for yours and your kids clothes and teach until you’re sixty five you probably ought to skip the rest of this chapter (noting the book reference at the end of it). Otherwise read on…. As we wrote the first issue of our manual in 2000/2001 we realised that our method of arranging our finances has helped us to achieve a happy degree of comfort since we met in 1992. This was based on a financial starting point of ZERO. Our combined assets ten years ago were pretty much this. My husband had a house to sell which he virtually had to give away due to the collapse of the housing market in the early nineties. Thankfully, having put a deposit down, he narrowly managed to avoid negative equity (unlike so many at that time). He did at least have a car. A
few years younger than him, I came to our relationship with a goldfish, a box of paperbacks and a student loan. Despite this, during our NQT year we managed to save up and pay for our wedding, luckily being burgled about three months before the big day. I say luckily because the insurance money from my stolen cassette collection paid for the reception! Since then, some pearls of wisdom have helped us a lot over the past few years, some is advice from others, some we worked out the hard way. Hopefully these will prove helpful to you whatever your situation. Buying a house On finally selling my husbands’ house, after over two years of having to rent it out at a loss, the estate agent passed on this tip which has stayed with us: “Buy the worst house in the best area, because you can change the house but you can’t change the area”. After a change of jobs, renting very cheaply for a while, we were able to stash away a deposit and act on this advice. Having lived in this new area for several months we were able get a real feel for it and find a house that was in a desirable location but needed an enormous amount of work doing on it. By renting in the cheapest possible place and saving as hard as we could we had amassed a reasonable deposit and were able to cover the initial costs of repair (damp proof course and timber treatment). Seven years later our house was just about sorted out, but because it was a ‘fixer upper’ its increase in value has far outstripped what we’ve actually spent on it. So to the above gem I would add this advice, which is to live in the cheapest place possible for a short time and save as hard as you can towards your house deposit. Take time to shop around for a mortgage (start by reading a couple of mortgage magazines). If you can face the thought of renovation, decorating etc then consider buying a ‘fixer upper’. After all with 13 weeks holiday every year a little decorating could help to pass the time!
Buying a car Car companies have us hooked these days with finance deals and monthly payments considered the norm. But does it have to be like that? In a nutshell, no. Being married to a man with a pathological hatred for car loans has proved this to me. Recently this gem from my neighbour, a prominent local businessman, confirmed it. “Cars are dead money”. My other half actually took out a very small loan for his first car many years ago, but ever since has paid cash. Of course this requires you to have the cash to pay with, so see the section on Savings Account above for this. The car loan tempts us to buy a luxury model and we get used to it. After all, we work hard and we deserve it!!! Of course we do, but with just a little patience we can become the master, not the servant of the car industry. Do we really need to replace a good quality new car every two or three years? I think not. Cars are now designed to last at least ten years provided they are maintained and serviced. New car prices in the UK have fallen closer to European prices and the cost of second hand cars has dramatically reduced. A very reliable car with ‘street-cred’ and many years left in it can be yours for less than three thousand pounds. Such a sum will not tie you into a second mortgage for the lifetime of your car (which is what the dealers want). Why then have so many people become ‘conditioned’ to replace good vehicles so often? Twenty years ago people didn’t and the majority of the French population still don’t. It can only be for one of two reasons. Firstly the marketing industry has won and convinced us that we do need a replacement every three years or secondly, we are trying to keep up with Jones’s. If the second case is true perhaps its time to step off the treadmill for a minute and ask a few searching questions. By paying cash for your car, obviously you will save the interest you would pay on your loan. But even more importantly, with your savings account ticking over you can save for your next car whilst running your existing one (into the ground!). So if and when your car packs up you will have the wherewithal to buy your next one. Conversely, having paid off your car loan with interest you’ll need to take another one out when you want to
replace it and so on and so on. You are trapped and at the mercy of the dealers. I am not qualified to offer advice about choosing a car but I can relate some of our own experiences of this. My first car was kindly bought for me by my then fiancé, as we lived about ten minutes drive from his first school and an hours’ drive (initially a two-hour train and bus ride!) from mine. We paid cash for an old banger costing £500 but it did the job for a year or two. I sold it when we moved to our second posts at the same school. (With the money we were able to buy a set of quality pans for our new home. I still have the pans today as a permanent memorial.) We then became a one-car family for a while. Unfortunately my husband’s premarriage sporty hatchback was stolen a week before the birth of our first child and had to be very quickly replaced by another banger. Although this car was a severe step down (a diesel family estate!) my husband bravely put up with it for several years. Shabby as it was, it helped us to renovate our house, both practically by carting tonnes of rubbish to the local tip, and financially by costing virtually nothing to buy or run. All the while we were able to save for the day when it could go no further, replacing it with a car a little over a year old. Sadly I was unable to add to my pan collection with the scrap value of £10 I received for my second faithful old banger. My husband and his friend spent this in the pub before they came back. In a nutshell: • •
Pay cash for cars. Start with a small economical car if necessary. Work your way up the car ladder by saving and paying cash. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for running a banger for a while, if it helps you achieve your goal of a good quality car and no finance in the future. If your car is essential e.g. for getting to work, or if like us public transport is virtually non-existent, make sure you balance economy with “mechanical soundness” when you purchase. When eventually you buy a decent car, choose one between one and two years old with as low mileage as possible, thereby allowing the previous owner to seriously devalue it by driving it off the forecourt.
Credit Cards By now you will probably be thinking I’m dead against credit cards and wouldn’t touch one with a barge pole. This is not the case. If you pay off your balance monthly then credit cards can be useful; safer than carrying cash around and helpful in an emergency or when travelling abroad. The perfect credit card has just evolved and I am now a user. It’s the Tesco credit card, which gives you points every time you spend, which I tend to do frequently. You can cash in the points for holidays etc. Hopefully after a couple of years it will pay for a weekend somewhere. I am concerned about the trend towards increasing consumer debt. Again the finance companies have us believing its OK to be up to your limit on a couple of credit cards, intending to pay them off but in actual fact increasing your debt as time goes by. So if you are in this situation then take action. Remove your credit cards from your purse or wallet and cut them in half now. Don’t suffer the indignity of having it done for you by a shop assistant! (True story- this really happened to a friend). Work towards a goal of paying of your balance as soon as possible. Living expenses To save money for cars, house renovations and paying off existing debts such as credit cards, student loans and even mortgages takes a bit of planning. Our suggestion previously in this chapter is to budget for saving and make a regular payment into a savings account on the day your salary is paid. By doing this you cease to think of this money as “spendable” and avoid frittering it through the month. But living is expensive and sometimes being able to save can be difficult. Some time ago as the parents of a new baby our income decreased to 1.2 salaries (that was 1.2, only half way up the pay scale too) but we decided we still had to make provision for saving. It was only £100 a month at that time but it made us feel we were still moving forward. If you feel you cannot save on your present income/expenditure level take a long hard look at your budget. If you already do save then it may be possible to increase this with a few simple adjustments. This is where I’d like to recommend a book I read a few months ago. It’s called:
The Complete Tightwad Gazette: Promoting Thrift as a Viable Alternative Lifestyle, by Amy Dacyczyn. I purchased my copy from Amazon.co.uk after vaguely hearing about a strange American frugal woman who published a newsletter for tightwads about ten years ago. Last year I got around to buying it. If you haven’t already skipped this chapter, having been horrified by my suggestions to cut up your credit cards and buy a second hand car then you may just like this book! Basically Mrs Dacyczyn has made a career out of frugal living and passed this on to a readership of about a million people. On one salary she and her husband are debt free, now retired from paid work, living in a large farmhouse and raising their six children. Not that we can all achieve this, but to me its something to aspire to (not the six children part). Even if your goals are completely different this book will have some excellent suggestions to help you achieve them. The whole book is a collection of her newsletters published over a sixyear period, with amazing but simple ideas to save money. As well as this there are articles relating to thrift and the environment, bringing up your kids free from the consumer monster, and giving up work. She seems like a very nice woman and her style of writing is funny and entertaining. For me to parrot whole chunks from this text would be both unfair and unprofessional, so I will just recommend that you buy this book. It’s a very general book and suitable for anyone interested in having a good quality of life and being financially secure (ie 100% of the population).
Chapter 15 Union membership Whichever union you decide to join is entirely up to you, but PLEASE make sure you join one, simply for your own professional security. In the event of a problem at work you will have the moral and legal support of a large organisation. The 3 main teaching unions are the NUT, the NASUWT and ATL. Historically these unions have tended to fight for their own causes and have not necessarily agreed on the major issues. However, this appears to be changing and in recent times they have had joint action particularly on the issue of workload and the open-ended teachers contract. Namely; “ … a teacher shall work 1265 hours plus whatever time is needed to fulfil professional duties”. Taken to the extreme, this translates to “ … a teacher shall have no limit on the hours worked and shall do whatever is necessary to complete his or her job”. As mentioned in an earlier chapter, surveys have shown that the average secondary teacher works a 51 hour week and our primary colleagues work 53 hours (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2001). Those with management responsibilities do more than this. Typically, a secondary Head of Department averages 56 hours per week. With closer co-operation between the three main unions and sending a common message to the government that ‘enough is enough’, we can all hope for an improvement to our contracts. I doubt we will be as fortunate as the Scottish teachers, but we can dream!
2003 Comment – Since the first two editions of this manual, an agreement has been reached. The whole agreement to remodel the school workforce can be found on the CD-ROM.
Consider your membership to be an insurance policy. You will have seen stories in the media, where problems have occurred for teachers, in the classroom or out of it. Smaller, less newsworthy examples happen every day. It is simply too big a risk to enter into teaching without this insurance policy. Very often you are placed in a compromising situation where it can
literally be your word against a student’s or increasingly your word against a parent’s. On that theme, if you are a man, never be in a classroom alone with a female student. Always leave the door wide open and tell a colleague that you are going to talk to whoever (and say this in a loud voice so that whoever hears you). As well as supporting you through any professional problems your chosen union will offer a few nice perks such as good deals on mortgages, insurance, travel and even sheltered housing when you’re coming up to retirement! Oh and don’t forget the tiny diary once a year! When it comes to paying your membership fees it hurts much less if you pay monthly, from your budget account. Fill in the direct debit mandate, send it off and forget about it!
Chapter 16 Strategies to help underachieving boys. Over the last decade there has been a steady improvement in results achieved by girls, in comparison to boys. Both genders have improved their performance at GCSE and A level but the rate of improvement by girls has been greater than that of boys. Five years ago it was common to say girls did better at GCSEs but the boys caught up, and in some cases overtook them, at A level. This was broadly accounted for by the fact that boys mature later than girls do. In the last few years girls have done better in both GCSEs and A level, which has rather kicked this earlier explanation into touch. Nature verses nurture *. Testosterone production is ‘switched on’ in a six week old male embryo. This causes the embryo to develop as a male both physically and mentally. In the male there are fewer links between the two halves of the brain compared with that of the female foetus. This causes the two halves of the cortex to act more independently in males and more co-operatively in females. In the key area of language development, girls use the whole brain while boys use only the left brain. The left side emphasises: Language Logic Mathematical formulae Number Sequence Analysis Words of a song Unrelated facts Learning from parts to the whole Phonetic reading systems The right side emphasis: Forms and patterns Spatial manipulation Rhythm Music Images and pictures Imagination Tune Relationships in learning Whole language learning Learning the whole, then the parts
This ‘whole brain use’ makes girls much more effective in developing language skills. Conversely, boys have better spatial awareness because
they use the right half of their brains only. They concentrate more effectively on the search for solutions to three dimensional and mathematical problems whilst girls try to use their whole brains (less effectively) in the same way as they acquired language. This makes girls less effective when dealing with the visual and spatial. Girls think more laterally whilst boys think linearly, crossing each hurdle to get to the next. This makes them good ‘problem solvers’. The higher levels of testosterone in boys also affect day to day behaviour: • Boys have a shorter attention span and hence fidget more. • Boys are more competitive in play and learning whereas girls will tend to co-operate and share. • Girls tend to be ‘completers’, while boys tend to leave tasks unfinished. • Boys are the ‘risk-takers’ which can make them dominate question and answer sessions. They are more prepared to risk getting it wrong. These differences and the resulting effects are nature. These are then compounded by the effect of nurture. Girl babies New-borns are described by medical personnel as sweet, dainty, delicate and charming Parents use adjectives such little, pretty, beautiful, cute. Boy babies New-borns are described by medical personnel as sturdy, handsome, big, tough
as: Parents use adjectives such as: strong, firm, big, well co-ordinated.
When six months old girl babies are When six months old, boy babies are expected to be: quieter, cleaner and expected to be noisier and more less adventurous then boys adventurous. Crying is seen as a sign of fear or Crying is seen as a sign of anger distress Mothers expect girl babies to stay Mothers expect boy close to them explore. Parents talk to girls more and Parents handle boys encourage them to smile stimulate them more. babies more to and
If we add to this the toys and play expectations for boys and girls, and the images and role models they see in early years, it is hardly surprising that through nature and/or nurture, boys and girls start formal education as quite different animals. In summary as teachers we need to accept that boys and girls are different by design and by society’s programming. The old argument of which sex is the more intelligent is flawed and has no case for argument. We are not equal, we are different and thank the Lord that we are. On a more practical level, we need to accept that boys cannot sit still for as long as girls; they will respond better to visual approaches; they will respond better to an element of competition; they will need more structured guidelines; they have testosterone and it is not their fault. It may be true that the coursework element puts girls at an advantage because, as a rule, they are more organised and respond better than boys to longer term goals. However, this is the assessment system as it stands and we have to work with it. It is therefore important that we employ some strategies to improve the performance of boys, in all areas, without adversely affecting girls. Here are some tried and tested ideas. They are in no particular order: •
• • •
Make use of visual resources such as diagrams, flashcards, OHPs, videos and in particular, ICT. As a rule, boys respond less well to purely language-based resources. Make introductions to lessons dynamic and challenging. Make the ending of lessons structured. Make it clear what has been learned, and what lies ahead. Use the natural competitive nature of boys by using quizzes (with rewards) as part of learning. Boys commonly use three steps when planning a task, whilst girls use six or seven. Encourage your class to use five steps when planning, to make the boys work in slightly more detail and stop the girls from going overboard. Break classroom activities down into more intensive and shorter periods of time on task. Set time limits, for example “this task will take ten minutes and the clock starts now”.
• • • • •
• • •
When revising, do timed questions and have a stop clock at the front. Make homework tasks short, sharp and focused. Reward effort, care and attention to detail. Look for, and encourage, quality of work rather than quantity. Break longer tasks down into a series of hurdles that need to be crossed. This particularly applies to coursework. A good way of doing this is to provide checklists generalising what has to be done to cross each hurdle. Provide checklists for pupils to refer to when revising for tests and exams. Have a corporate expectation of success and high achievement for all students (male and female). Give more immediate praise and more immediate recognition of achievements. This includes regular, formative marking. Set more short-term targets. Ask pupils, especially boys, to expand their answers more and to explain things in more detail. When a teacher asks for hands to go up, the ratio of boys to girls hands is on average three to one in favour of the boys. This is because the boys are the risk takers. Encourage more thinking time in discussion work to develop reflective thinking skills. Insist that no one puts their hands up for perhaps ten seconds. This will also enable the girls to build more confidence and feel less intimidated by assertive or aggressive boys.
• The ideas suggested in this chapter are intended to improve the motivation of boys whilst still encouraging girls. Hopefully this will lead to an equal chance of success for all pupils, regardless of their sex. On an individual level, if you successfully employ some of these strategies it will enhance your relationships with classes, and do no end of good for your reputation!
Extracts from ‘Boys’ underachievement is a problem, but not their fault!’
Brian and Liz Terry – Spring 2000.
Chapter 17 Useful Web Sites Before ‘reinventing the wheel’, try searching for resources on some of these: www.dfes.gov.uk Department for Education and Skills - government site which includes all new initiatives and incentives for teachers www.qca.org.uk Qualifications and Curriculum Authority – information on exam boards, syllabuses, national SoW and current affairs. www.ngfl.gov.uk National Grid for Learning – Excellent starting point to find resources using their search engine. www.teachernet.gov.uk Current affairs plus many links to other useful sites. Also gives details of those schools where teachers can expect a bonus. www.schoolsnet.com Lesson plans, worksheets, tests and news. More added every week. www.nc.uk.net National curriculum site – links every NC program of study to teaching resources. Lists other web sites rated by teachers on their usefulness. www.canteach.gov.uk Details and links to all necessary government information and /info/induction support for the induction of NQT’s. Most documents are available to download in PDF. www.schoolzone.co.uk Free lessons, worksheets, schemes of work, policies and a jobs section. www.inthestaffroom.com Links for all subjects and professional information. www.tes.co.uk Contains virtually everything you need to know about current educational issues, your subject and your career. It has an excellent section for NQT’s www.rayslearning.com/repo A free report writing package. Once set up, a set of high rt.htm quality reports can be produced in less than two hours. www.chriskingtonpublishin NQT (and beyond) books for sale - order online. More g.co.uk www.bbc.co.uk/education xcellent background information. Also contains the excellent E ‘Bitesize Revision’ site. www.channel4.com/learnin Channel 4 education web site. Similar in content to the BBC. g/secondary.html www.sitesforteachers.com American but still useful. Hundreds, in fact probably thousands of resources. www.tesco.com Why not let someone else fight their way round the supermarket for you. www.friendsreunite.comTell your old school friends that you are now on the other side of the fence.
Chapter 18 Moving On, Moving Up How long you stay in your first job is entirely up to you. However it is quite usual to move after two or three years and no one will think any the worse of you for applying for jobs. Your reasons for moving may be to gain experience of a different school before applying for a promoted position, or it may be simply because you want a change. You may even feel ready for more responsibility at this stage, particularly if you are an older entrant into the profession. Whenever the time to move comes, there are some general tips to help you succeed. The letter of application First you need to get an interview and this means that your letter of application must be right. My advice would be to make the tone of your letter as positive as possible, to ooze with enthusiasm for your subject. Also make it specific to the job that you are applying for. When you reply to an advert you are likely to receive general information about the school and then more specific information about the department or vacant position. Match yourself and your achievements to this as closely as possible, then ask a senior member of staff (ideally your HoD) to read it and make comments. Don’t take any comments that are made personally, but it would be unwise not to act on them. It is also a good idea to give your referees a copy of the job description because this will also help them to match you more specifically to the job. The interview This is the part, if they are honest, that most people dread! Don’t despair; if you have made it to interview, you are already half way there. It is inevitable that you will be nervous on the day of an interview. Indeed, if you’re not then you will probably not be at your best. Remember that pressure helps you perform at the highest level. The adrenaline flowing through your body is not a pleasant feeling but it does help to sharpen you up.
The best way to approach an interview is to be prepared. Treat it like an oral exam and revise for it. This will increase your confidence and reduce the effect of nerves. Think ahead about questions you are likely to get asked, and prepare some answers. I am not suggesting that when you go into the interview you should ‘recite your lines’, but if you’ve thought through some of the likely issues you’re less likely to be floored by a question; hence you will appear composed and in control. It is easy for an interviewer to spot someone who has not thought through their response; they waffle in the vain hope that this will buy them time to think of the right answer. How many times have you told classes that it isn’t the quantity that matters but the quality? Exactly the same applies during an interview. •
If you start waffling in an interview, you are in trouble! It might be better to politely make your excuses, fill in an expenses form and head for the car park.
In order to help you prepare, some interview questions are listed below. These have been collected by a number of teachers I know who have had interviews for posts such as subject co-ordinators, heads of department, heads and deputy heads of year. They are typically aimed at the 2 to 4 management point area. The answers are deliberately missing!
Possible Interview Questions. Two starters for ten: • Tell me about yourself. • Describe your (teaching) career up to the current date. The real questions: • Why do you want this job? • What makes you suitable for this job? • What is your best lesson? • What is your worst lesson? • Give me 5 do’s and 5 don’ts in the classroom. • What is the difference between management and leadership? • How important is homework in raising achievement?
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
How would you address the underachievement of boys in your subject? In terms of your career, what do you expect to be doing in 5 years? How would you deal with an irate parent? How would you balance your class teaching with your management role? How can your subject contribute to cross curricular themes? (ICT, literacy, numeracy, citizenship, SMSC) What qualities do you have that an effective head of year/department should have? How would you set about improving results in ______? How would you ensure equality of opportunity for boys/girls? How would you ensure good communication within the year team/department? How would you motivate a reluctant colleague? If I came to look round the department in 3 months time, what differences would I see? What could you contribute to the wider aspects of the school? How do you ensure that pupils of all abilities are motivated? What are the main issues in education at the moment and do you see these as threats or opportunities? What are the implications of the most recent changes to the National Curriculum? What should be in a SoW? Describe an initiative that you have led or been actively involved in. What have you done at your current school in addition to classroom teaching? How would you use prior data about students (such as KS2 SATS) to plan lessons and set realistic targets? (current Ofsted favourite) What motivates you/makes you tick? Is there anything that you want to ask us? (Don’t ask something for the sake of it and definitely don’t ask about expenses. This question is mainly asked out of courtesy).
For more ideas and interview questions, visit www.inthestaffroom.com Select ‘job tips’ then ‘interview tips’.
In an interview for a job in industry, a friend of a friend knew he had blown it and didn’t want the job anyway. When asked if there was anything he wanted to ask them he stood up, bounced one hand up and down whilst keeping the other one still and said: “ Yes which hand is the frog in?” I’ve no idea if this is true but it’s a good story, and I must say, on occasions I have been tempted. USP’s USP is a sales term meaning unique selling point. The concept behind the USP is that if there is a range of products of a similar type then a USP will ensure that product is perceived as different, unique and better. The concept can be applied to candidates at an interview. If five people are shortlisted for interview each of them will fit the job spec. and will be capable of doing the job. It is up to you to demonstrate your USP for the position on offer. Pose the question to yourself ‘What can I offer that makes me special or different from other candidates? What makes me fit? What are my USP’s?’ If you think about it you should be able to find 2 or 3 USP’s (e.g. computer skills, a particular approach in something, a reputation for…, experience of ….etc). During your interview you are likely to be asked some open-ended questions. You should try to steer your answer to these questions to include your most appropriate USP’s. Selection for a position usually comes down to a decision between two candidates. It will be your USP’s that help your selection.
Supplement for Teacher’s Organiser.
The folders, spreadsheets and documents contained on the CD-ROM will run using Microsoft Works/Office. However, some of the Managing Money spreadsheets will not work on Works because it will not support the calculations. The contents of the folders are outlined below:
Folder/Document Description Organiser sheets Attendance & Mark See examples (print out as A4 or A5) in the manual. Sheets (locked) Daily Organiser See examples (print out as A4 or A5) (locked) Available for 5, 6, 8 or 9 period days Weekly Organiser See examples (print out as A4 or A5) (locked) Available for 5, 6, 8 or 9 period days Pupil Diary Checker See example (print out as A4 or A5) (locked) Spreadsheet version Available as A4 (added for 2003) of attendance and mark sheet Reports more added for 2002 Statement Banks Statements banks to use (14 subjects) plus links to web-sites (unlocked) offering more statements and free Report Writer. Self Help New for 2002 Exercises To raise self-esteem and manage stress. Managing Money Investment Spreadsheet that will calculate the future value of an Calculator investment. (unlocked) Monthly Budget Example of a spreadsheet for a budget account as described (locked) in chapter 12. Monthly Budget Template of above spreadsheet. Can be copied onto floppy or (template, unlocked) hard drive and used. Mortgage Calculator Calculates the monthly interest payment from the size of (unlocked) mortgage and interest rate Salary Scales New 2003 pay scales (April 2003) Contractual changes to the teachers contract for 2003 (full government document).
Many of the sheets in the Teachers Organiser are locked (password protected). If the sheets are unlocked then users can type pupil names into them or even cut and paste these from a school database (eg NOVA) at the start of the year. This can save considerable time if like many teachers you have ten or more different classes. Alternatively you may wish to put your own specific timetable and room numbers on a weekly or daily organiser sheet.
Important Notice. You may copy files, modify them, print them out and/or photocopy any of the documents on your CD ROM for your own personal use. You may not copy the whole CD for someone else and you may not photocopy any of the pages within this manual. As fellow professionals we would hope that integrity prevents users from abusing this. However in the event that we do find breach of this, 3T Publications UK Limited will take legal action.
Appendices Appendix 1 Unlocking Documents. Documents that are password protected will not allow you to modify them unless they are unlocked. If you try typing, the new text will appear red with a line through it. All of the locked documents are protected by the same password. To unlock a document go to ‘Tools’ then ‘Unprotect’ and you will be asked to enter and then re-enter the password. The password is: teacher Some spreadsheets containing calculations are protected by a different password to prevent damage. This password is not available.
Appendix 2. NQT Induction Standards. Schools should have in place a support system and documentation to help you meet the targets below. Some of these will be specific to the particular situation and may be the schools’ interpretation of the standards. It would therefore be unfair to expand on these targets in this manual because you would then be following our interpretation of the standards rather than your schools’. A good source of reference specific to crossing these hurdles is’ A Newly Qualified Teachers Manual – How to complete the induction period successfully’ – by Sara Bubb. In order to meet the induction standards, NQTs should demonstrate that they: a. set clear targets for improvement of pupils achievement, monitor progress towards those targets and use appropriate strategies relating to literacy, numeracy, and other targets; plan effectively to ensure pupils can meet their potential, notwithstanding differences of race and gender, and taking account of pupils’ needs. Secure a good standard of behaviour in the classroom by establishing appropriate rules and expectations of discipline which pupils respect, and pre-empt and deal with inappropriate behaviour. Plan effectively to meet pupils’ special educational needs, and with the SENCO, make an appropriate contribution to the preparation, implementation, monitoring and review of individual education plans. Account for ethnic and cultural diversity to enrich the curriculum and raise achievement
Recognise and assess pupil achievement against targets and tests relevant to the subject(s) or phase(s) taught. Liase with parents/carers through informative oral and written reports on progress and achievement, and encourage them to support their children’s learning, behaviour and progress. Deploy support staff and other adults in the classroom, involving them in the planning of pupils’ learning. Take responsibility for implementing school policies and practices, including those on bullying and racial harassment Take responsibility for their own professional development, setting objectives for improvement, and taking action to keep up to date with research and developments in pedagogy and in the subject(s) they teach. To complete induction successfully an NQT trained in England, qualifying on or after 1 May 2000 and before May 2001, must have passed the National test for teacher training candidates in numeracy, before completion of the induction period.
Appendix 3. Extracts of the contractual changes to the teachers contract from Sept 2003. Note the full document is on the CD-ROM
A. i. Contractual change for teachers Mainly administrative and clerical tasks
1.Teachers should not routinely do administrative and clerical tasks1. The School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document will be changed to reflect the provisions below. 2.Teachers should have support so that they can focus on teaching and learning and expect administrative and clerical processing to be done by support staff. Consequently, teachers should not routinely be required to undertake administrative and clerical tasks, including:
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Collecting money; Chasing absences – teachers will need to inform the relevant member of staff when students are absent from their class or from school; Bulk photocopying; Copy typing; Producing standard letters – teachers may be required to contribute as appropriate in formulating the content of standard letters; Producing class lists – teachers may be required to be involved as appropriate in allocating students to a particular class; Record keeping and filing – teachers may be required to contribute to the content of records; Classroom display – teachers will make professional decisions in determining what material is displayed in and around their classroom; Analysing attendance figures – it is for teachers to make use of the outcome of analysis; Processing exam results – teachers will need to use the analysis of exam results; Collating pupil reports; Administering work experience – teachers may be required to support pupils on work experience (including through advice and visits); Administering examinations – teachers have a professional responsibility for identifying appropriate examinations for their pupils; Invigilating examinations – see distinct provisions below; Administering teacher cover;
ICT trouble shooting and minor repairs;
Commissioning new ICT equipment; Ordering supplies and equipment – teachers may be involved in identifying needs; Stocktaking;
• • • • •
Cataloguing, preparing, issuing and maintaining equipment and materials; Minuting meetings – teachers may be required to communicate action points from meetings; Co-ordinating and submitting bids –teachers may be required to make a professional input into the content of bids; Seeking and giving personnel advice; Managing pupil data – teachers will need to make use of the analysis of pupil data;
Inputting pupil data – teachers will need to make the initial entry of pupil data into school management systems.
3.The changes above will be promulgated in draft early in 2003, to take effect in every school from September 2003 at the latest, with schools working towards the changes as far as possible prior to that. 4.In addition, the following provisions will be introduced on exam invigilation:
a) Teachers should not routinely be required to invigilate external examinations; b) Teachers should usually continue to conduct practical and oral examinations; c) Teachers may be required to supervise internal examinations and tests, where these take place during their normal timetabled teaching time.
5.The invigilation changes will be promulgated in draft early in 2003, to take effect in every school from September 2005 at the latest, with schools working towards the changes as far as possible prior to that. During the period to September 2005, schools should maximise the use of support staff as external examination invigilators. ii. Reasonable work/life balance
6.All teachers should enjoy a reasonable work/life balance. The School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document will be changed accordingly. iii. Cover for absent teachers
7.There will be occasions when the qualified teacher normally responsible for a pupil’s learning outcomes is absent from the classroom. Such absences need to be carefully managed to minimise the impact on teaching and learning for the pupil. We propose a number of linked steps on cover: • There should be limits on the extent to which teachers at a school can be asked unexpectedly to cover for an absent colleague, with progressive movement towards a position where this should only happen rarely; The relevant sections of the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document will therefore be changed so that no teacher may be required to provide cover for more than a set number of hours per year; Initially, the number of hours will be set at 38, but it should be unusual for most teachers to provide such a high amount of cover – schools should be providing downward pressure on the burden of cover;
High level teaching assistants will be able to cover classes, and should be able to ensure that pupils can progress with their learning, based on their knowledge of the learning outcomes planned by the classroom/subject teacher; A new cadre of cover supervisors is needed to assist with teacher absence and relieve the pressure on qualified teachers to cover; cover supervisors will need appropriate training, including in pupil behaviour management. Detailed national guidance will be developed, including in relation to cover provided by staff without QTS; The cover supervisor model is particularly valid where a teacher has been able to set work, or where pupils are able to undertake effective self-directed learning, for example within an ICT Learn Centre in a school; Cover supervisors and high level teaching assistants are for short-term absences only – as already implied above, they should not be used as the remedy for the medium or long term absence of a qualified teacher; Where qualified teachers at a school are used to provide cover, their PPA time must be protected.
Guaranteed planning, preparation and assessment time
8.To achieve the demands of the next phase in raising standards, teachers will need to take a more differentiated approach to the needs of their pupils. And yet they are already doing too much of their planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) at evenings and weekends, and in isolation from each other. While this cannot be changed overnight, the Agreement marks a turning point in carving out some guaranteed PPA time during the normal school day. 9.The School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document will be changed to bring this into effect. Changes will be based on the following principles: • The purpose of guaranteed PPA time is to enable teachers to raise standards through a combination of individual and collaborative professional activity; within that context, and subject to a national framework to be set out in guidance, it is for the teacher to determine the particular priorities for each block of PPA time; Guaranteed PPA time must not be encroached upon, including by any obligation to cover for absent colleagues; Guaranteed PPA should be set at the equivalent of at least 10% of a teacher’s normal timetabled teaching time, where only teaching time within a teacher’s 1265 contracted hours would count for these purposes, not other forms of pupil contact time; Guaranteed PPA time would count towards a teacher’s 1265 contractual hours. This contractual PPA would be distinct from any planning, preparation or assessment undertaken outside the 1265 hours, as part of a teacher’s professional duties. The latter will be subject to the new work/life balance clause outlined above;
Guaranteed PPA should be timetabled time, in blocks of no less than 30 minutes duration, as part of the teacher’s normal weekly or fortnightly timetable - i.e. a teacher should have a clear expectation of when they will be receiving their guaranteed PPA.
10.The 10% guaranteed PPA time is a minimum figure. Any teacher who already has a regular entitlement of more than this for planning, preparation and assessment should not be brought back to a 10% figure. However, guaranteed PPA would not be additional to existing timetabled free periods. Strategies for PPA 11.There will be no progress if guaranteed PPA time simply shifts other work into evenings and weekends. 12.Moreover, some pupil contact time does not involve any teaching taking place e.g. pupil supervision, detention, assembly duty. These types of supervision can in principle be done by other adults – schools will receive guidance on how to secure this type of “remodelling” of how teachers spend their time.