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Teaching Hints & Tips

So...You've arrived in the UK, attended your induction meeting with Protocol and you are anxiously awaiting your first teaching day.....what now??

Tips for new graduates before you leave home and when you arrive.

Moving to the UK as an NQT (newly qualified teacher) is a daunting experience. Not only will you have your first experience as a ‘real life’ teacher, it might also be your first time living out of home. It is a fun and exciting time and being out of your comfort zone a little and having to support yourself really helps you to grow and become a more responsible and worldly person. One of the reasons I chose to move to the other side of the world and teach was because I really have no life experience, having spent 17 of my 23 years at school. I have never had to worry about rent or bills or embarrassingly even doing the grocery shopping on a regular basis. When I arrive back home in a year or two I hope to feel as though I can achieve anything and that there is no challenge too big. I hope that the people who are in a similar boat to me will read my tips before they leave home and take some on board to make teaching and living a little easier when they arrive, instead of disembarking from the airport and saying “So....What now?”

Suggestions before Teaching

Plan at least one days worth of work for each age group. Print your plans off and keep them in a folder to take with you to school, instead of relying on having access to a computer and being able to use your USB. It is better to have everything you need as a hard copy in case the school’s photo copier has broken down or you don’t arrive with enough time to use it. Be organised and don’t just hope for the best. Ensure that you know exactly what you’re doing for the first hour of the day, this will set you up for the rest of the time you’re at the school (not just that day). You will build a reputation with the students as soon as you step foot into the classroom; kids talk, and if you start off by looking professional and confident your time in all of the classes will be easier. Don’t plan anything that includes resources which you don’t have. Click here for great classroom games with minimal resources.

-Find some activities which will educate the students about where you come from, find a book by an author who shares the same nationality as you (Wombat Stew is a good one if you’re Australian) or make a quiz about your country. By doing this you make yourself a novelty and it is easy to be an expert in the area.

-Buy some postcards or take some photos of where you’re from - these are great the younger classes in particular who may know nothing of your home country. For instance I was once asked if I could teach the language that we speak at home. Also bring some stickers of animals which are native to your country.

-Go online and read some the headline articles of a British newspaper such as The Telegraph. If the teachers in the staff room are talking about current affairs you are not completely left out of the conversation.

-If possible get used to using an Interactive Whiteboard, all of the classrooms I have taught in have had one and I had not used one before. If you don’t have access to an IWB before you leave check out some websites and see if you can find some games are activities you could use with one.

-Commit some energisers and short activities to memory in case you need to fill the gaps somewhere. You don’t want to be ruffling through your folder to find one.

Other Useful Tips

-If you are planning to get wireless internet make sure you go to the phone company immediately after finding out your address. It can take weeks for them to come and install a phone line, and even if you have a phone line it can take ages for them to connect up your service. This is why it is important to plan lessons to take to school before you arrive, as trying to do it in an internet cafe is inconvenient and annoying. (You could try telling the phone company that you’re a teacher and your family and friends are all over seas, they might try and fast track you).

-Don’t just bring a power adaptor, bring a whole power board. An adaptor will let you plug one thing in, if you bring a power board you will be able to plug all of your electronics in at the same time!

-Research the area you are moving to. Does it have everything you need? When choosing where you want to live look at local groups and other opportunities for work. If you’re moving by yourself and don’t know anyone, volunteering or part time work on the weekends will help you meet people. Joining a sports group or a book club is a good idea but don’t rely on them all being local to your area when you arrive.

-Email a real estate agent before you leave and make an appointment to be shown some apartments. Be sure to let them know your budget and requirements (close to public transport and shops if you don’t have a car). It took almost three weeks for us to move into a flat and this took a large chunk out of our savings.

-Make sure you have your bank accounts sorted out. Thankfully Protocol Education will set you up with a bank account at your UK induction when you get here but before then accessing your money can be difficult. We were asked to pay 6 months worth of rent in advance and could only withdraw 300 pounds per day from the bank. Find out your bank’s fees and restrictions when making international transfers and make sure you know which ATMs to use when you arrive. Be careful though, I did this and still had $150 worth of ATM fees after one month!

-Pack professional clothing. From my experiences, teachers in England dress slightly more professionally than teachers in Australia, who may be seen wearing jeans or track suit pants if they are taking a PE lesson. Don’t worry if you don’t have enough space for your pretty dresses and shoes, you can ask your mum to post them to you when you know your address!

-Email your documents, references and lesson plans to yourself. The internet is the easiest place to store your information.

-Keep in touch with some of your university tutors, you might like to call upon them when you begin teaching to give you ideas for behaviour management or lesson body in their areas. They don’t mind at all if you email them and are flattered that you remembered them and are requesting their expertise.

-Become proficient at reading a map! I have terrible visual spatial skills and find it very easy to get lost when I’m in a new area, this can make your mornings very stressful when looking for a school. (This might seem silly to some people, but I know there must be others out there who also struggle with the concept!)

-Register with your local doctor when you know where you will be living. You might not need to go yet but it will make it easier when you do. Just call the NHS helpline or go to and they will tell you the GPs in your area, then go to one and fill in your forms. Free health care, yay!

Be realistic, you will face hurdles when you arrive and things won’t always go as smoothly as you’d like, but it is totally worth it. You will learn so much and have so many experiences that you will never have had, had you decided to stay at home.


~by Caitlin, an Australian NQT now teaching in the UK through Protocol Education.

Tags: Teach in the UK, Teaching resources, Teach in London, Supply Teaching, Relief teaching, casual teaching resources, teaching agencies in London, teaching agencies in the UK

Category: Australian Teachers

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