Not everybody joins the teaching profession because they want to. But whatever their reasons for becoming a teacher, as the years go by they grow into the profession. It is not just the students but also the teachers who learn something every day. Besides the subjects you teach, a teacher also has to learn how to handle children, take care of discipline issues and learning problems.
A newly qualified teacher, especially, has his/her task cut out when she/he walks into the class for the first time. So here are a few things on which newly qualified teachers can focus in the early days and weeks:
- Get hold of useful information about the school you wish to teach in. This can be done by visiting the school or its website. Peruse all information carefully so you know the right questions to ask before you start working. Know the school policies and schemes of work from the HR and the Head of your department. This information is relevant as it will affect the way you work from the first day, take the time to read them and look at how they will impact your daily life.
- Ensure that your lesson plans are well prepared; this will give you confidence. Prepare for the class and keep teaching materials ready in advance so that in the class you can concentrate only on the teaching. This is also true for the experienced teacher of course.
- Remember that your class is made up of all kinds of students so when you plan your lessons ensure that you make it as varied and interesting as possible. Use ICT, plan lab activities, hands-on activities, correlate your subjects to sports, food, television, etc., add humour.
- Most of the schools have mentors or HODs who orient the new teachers in the procedures followed in the school. Interact with your mentors often so that you can quickly adjust to the new school and its systems. Try and interact with more than just one mentor/teacher so you learn from them. In your free periods, take their permission to sit in their classes and observe their teaching-learning processes so that you can apply them to your classes for quality teaching and learn quickly for a better performance.
- Knowing the discipline strategies of the school is very important for a new teacher. He/she has to know the measures they are allowed to take in the classroom to correct children’s behaviour.
- An important job of the teacher is to be able to talk about the child with the parent and also to listen to the parent about the child. Parents may seek your advice, press you for information, confront you, perhaps even cry on your shoulder, so be prepared. Even experienced teachers often find working with parents a complex part of the job. Make notes regarding each child in your class and be well prepared for the parent-teacher meetings. Do not compare one child with another in front of a parent. Be specific and focus on the child’s behaviour and academic performance.
- Do not pile up your work; prioritize to be able to function smoothly. Maintain registers, be punctual in corrections, preparing question papers and declaring results, maintain anecdotal records of your class, be committed to the additional responsibilities you are given.
- Knowledge of computers is a must these days in the teaching profession, as it is needed to prepare activity sheets, question papers, etc.; so use ICT as a teaching aid in your classes, communicate with parents and school authorities through mail. In this way familiarize yourself with technology.
- Always try to look for opportunities to grow. Attend workshops/teacher training programmes for a good exposure to new teaching-learning methods.
- Ensure that you have a healthy relationship with your students. Students need encouragement and reassurance. Appreciation for good work, being punctual, achieving high scores, active classroom participation, etc., are definitely motivating to bring out high potential in students.
- When designing assessment tasks for pupils, work out in advance the marking scheme you will use to assess their work. Tracking the performance of children, understanding why some scored less, appreciating and encouraging good performances, giving them proper feedback will help students perform better in academics.
- One of the greatest rewards you will receive as a teacher is when a former student comes up to you and tells you how much you have inspired and influenced their life. Effective teachers inspire students and act as role models just as good leaders inspire their followers. A teacher should build or strengthen the culture, values, beliefs of the society and guide the students.
- Linguistic skills refer to the skills in using the language effectively in any communication. Irrespective of what subject you teach, every teacher must have effective and clear linguistic skills (whatever be the medium of instruction) so that she/he can teach the subject in a comprehensible manner. It is always better to use simple language when teaching.
- We communicate our personal feelings, emotions, attitudes, etc., through body language without using any words. Body language includes gestures, postures, facial expressions and appearance. The face is a prominent part in our body for sending non-linguistic signals. Hence teachers need to be careful with their facial expression, gestures, body posture, eye contact, personal appearance, etc., in every class because in every class many tiny eyes are observing you, learning from you and evaluating too.
These are a few areas that a newly qualified teacher needs to look into. Of course over the course of your career you will experience several different situations and will learn from all of them to be better at your profession.
All the best to all teachers, old and new.
The author is the Head of the Department for Science and also the CBSE co-ordinator in Delhi Public School, Nacharam, Hyderabad. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.