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Inside Teaching : April 2010
Inside Teaching | April 2010 TEACHING TIPS 30 costume alterations for the school production, which involved coming to school for a number of consecutive weekends. I ended up being totally exhausted, contracting a nasty cold and having to take a few days off work. Looking back, I realise now that no-one would have thought any less of me for not helping out with the production; after all I was a Science and Maths teacher and I had plenty of things to organise there. If I’d just said no to that one thing I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have hit that wall. It’s really important to look after yourself because when you’re healthy and feeling good you’ll be far more effective in the classroom. TIP 4 : TAkE OPPORTUNITIES AND NETWORk As teachers we often find that we have the chance to do things that most people never will. For me, this has included going down a working silver- zinc mine, taking a tour of a hydroelectric power station, going inside a wind turbine, working with scientists from the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and even visiting Antarctica. Many of these experiences required metogiveupacoupleofdaysofmy holidays or the occasional weekend. At the same time, however, it meant that I not only met many other teachers teaching the same subjects as me, which wouldn’t have happened otherwise, but I also met many outside experts who weren’t teachers, but were interested in education and were happy to work with my classes. Building yourself a solid network of teachers and industry and other experts will make your job a lot easier. There are also many other learning opportunities within our profession that can enhance your knowledge and understanding, and inform your pedagogy. Apply for everything that interests you – if you don’t get it approved the first time you can always wait for something similar to come round again. Within my first few years of teaching I found myself succeeding in being selected for a number of things I didn’t expect including: a focus group to rewrite Science courses for the state; a statewide role coordinating Physics teachers; and going to Sydney to have an input into the new national curriculum. I invariably found myself being one of the youngest, least experienced people in the room, which can be intimidating, but I soon realised that a fresh view is really welcomed in most situations. It’s easy to assume that because you’re a new teacher you don’t stand a chance of being selected for opportunities, whether it’s a trip to Antarctica or presenting a new idea at a staff meeting, but if you don’t try you’ll never know. You may even be pleasantly surprised at what you can achieve early in your career. TIP 5 : ENJOY YOURSELF This is easily the most important tip. Teaching is a busy, exciting and rewarding career, and it’s really important to enjoy what you’re doing. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, your students will pick up on it and they won’t enjoy themselves either. A smile is infectious. It’s not a tip to observe that it will get easier over time, but it is true. It’s important to remember that working with young people in schools is an absolutely wonderful experience. They will challenge you, occasionally disappoint you and, as often as not, exceed your expectations, but overall they’ll make you proud to be a teacher. I like to remind myself that, as Albert Einstein once said, ‘A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.’ It’s a quotation I have on the wall of my science lab, and it’s as important for us teachers as it is for our students to remember that we learn best when we try something new, make mistakes and enjoy things together. ■ Jane Dobson was born in England and obtained her Masters Degree in Physics in Wales, after which she took a ‘year out’ to travel and work in Australia – seven years ago. She completed her Bachelor of Teaching at the University of Tasmania. She was the winner of the Excellence by a Beginning Teacher national award in the 2009 Australian Awards for Teaching Excellence of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. LINKS: For more information on beginning teachers visit: www.nswteachers.nsw.edu.au/Library. html http://beginningtoteach.qct.edu.au www.trb.tas.gov.au/information- resources.htm