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Inside Teaching : April 2010
Inside Teaching | April 2010 TEACHING TIPS 28 Award-winning teacher Jane Dobson shares her five top tips for beginning teachers. Top tips for beginning teachers When I won the Excellence by a Beginning Teacher category in the 2009 Australian Awards for Teaching Excellence of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, I was asked if I could provide some tips to Inside Teaching specifically for beginning teachers. By the time I received the award, I’d actually almost finished my fourth year of teaching, so the request got me thinking back to that first year out of university. I recall being in front of a bunch of teenagers, who would probably rather have been just about anywhere else than in my Maths class on a Friday afternoon. The sheer terror I felt makes it seem like this was only yesterday. At the same time, if I think about all the things I’ve learned in the past four years, it feels like a lifetime ago. Every beginning teacher has different strengths and weaknesses along with different experiences when they enter their very own classroom for the first time, so I don’t pretend I can give each beginning teacher all the answers. Most of us have enough in common, though, that some of the tips I give here will be useful. TIP 1 : DON’T PANIC During the first year of teaching, you’ll experience a range of emotions, everything from excitement and joy to anxiety and trepidation. The really confusing times can be when you seem to be feeling all these emotions at once. Reminding yourself that this is perfectly normal and that every other beginning teacher will experience these highs and lows at some point can help you to put things in perspective. This is especially the case at 10 o’clock on a Sunday night when you suddenly realise you’ve forgotten to prepare that worksheet for the first class on Monday morning. It’s true when the data projector decides it’s suddenly not going to work and your entire lesson depends on the students watching some clips on YouTube. These things happen to everyone - even experienced teachers. Taking a deep breath and remaining calm, at least on the outside, will usually get you through. You’ll have bad lessons that you would rather forget, but this happens to everyone, even the most experienced teachers. The most important thing is to learn from them. It’s important to try not to put too much pressure on yourself.