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Tear off the Bandaid

Gareth is a Secondary Teacher from Australia who is working in West London schools through Protocol Education. Gareth shares his thoughts on his tough first year teaching and believes it's better to get the difficult year over and done with sooner rather than later. 

Tear off the Bandaid

'That Year One class sounds terrible. They’d never give a graduate teacher a class like that,” declared a teacher, during a recent lunchtime meal spent sitting in the staffroom of a school I was doing supply at.

In an ideal world she’d be right; you wouldn’t give such a dysfunctional and needy class to a graduate teacher. But in reality this is the case? Of course not.
Truth be told, a graduate teacher is probably more likely to get the most problematic class, because no one else would want the bother. The longer many of us work the more we want the reward of being given a pleasant class.

Despite being idealistic about it all, teaching a difficult class (or classes) in your first year can be entirely exhausting. My first year teaching was the most full-on of my life – much more than my first year as a journalist.

However, as one long-term teacher, in a semi tough school, once commented when asked whether he had enjoyed teaching the difficult classes for so long, “I enjoy teaching naughty boys”. And perhaps this is the best attitude. An approach of humour where the teacher is fully aware of the contrived behaviour of their students; enjoys the challenge of dealing with behaviour; and is unfazed by the demands to meet academic goals but focuses more closely on the emotional development of children.

Despite being idealistic about it all, teaching a difficult class (or classes) in your first year can be entirely exhausting. My first year teaching was the most full-on of my life – much more than my first year as a journalist. A bunch of bad students combined with inexperience can play on your weaknesses and nearly derailed my want for teaching. This was not assisted by my principal at the time commenting, “Are you sure teaching is for you, Gareth?”. In many cases a bad first year is enough to break a teacher’s career. Let’s be honest, there are many easier ways of earning a buck than having your ego stripped by a bunch of spoilt brats or pubescent teenagers.
The flipside is that a good first year will lull you into a false sense of security. I have seen a number of teachers, who have taught in schools with good behaviour, have a nasty shock when they begin a stint teaching in a school with students who are difficult to control. Despite having taught for a number of years these staff are struck by all the initial shocks of being presented with rudeness, backchat, disruption and poor work habits.

So tear off the bandaid and expose yourself to some of the worst teaching conditions you can find. It will make you stronger.

At Protocol Education, we run training sessions in order to equip you with effective classroom management skills. Want to attend a session? Check out our training page.

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Tags: Gareth, Protocol Education, NQT, Teaching, difficult, Class, Behaviour,

Category: Australian Teachers


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