5 Mistakes to Avoid as you Begin your Teaching Career

5 Mistakes to Avoid as you Begin your Teaching Career

Embarking on your NQT year can be full on. Getting used to a new school, new colleagues, new pupils, routines can send your head in a spin! I didn’t even have a proper place to stay for the first week of my first job as a qualified teacher! Think.. grotty hostel and you may get some idea of what my ‘refuge’ was like after my working day was over! Luckily that didn’t last too long!

1. Giving 100%

In my first year teaching, I began my NQT year laminating everything, the printer flying at 11pm, cutting, sticking and preparing notes and resources til the early hours most nights of the week. Travelling back to Co. Louth each Sunday night… I was still exhausted.

With my coaching hat on nowadays, I suggest that you imagine your life as 100%. How much time and energy are you willing to give to your job? Relationship? Finances? Fitness? Nutrition? Spirituality? Personal development? Time for you?

I invite you to reflect…
What will you gain if you give your job 100%? What will you lose?

Thinking again about your Wheel of Life and your Wheel of ENERGY…

The exact percentages dedicated to each area will vary from person to person – but life is more than just your JOB. What would an effective work life/balance look like for you? Now, my job no longer receives 100% of my time and energy. Teaching is now roughly 55% of my time and energy. I also am responsible for developing my business and self-care practices including spending time with those I love. 

2. Ignoring your Hobbies

I get it! Term one can be CRAZY! Meeting your new class, writing plans, getting to know your new school and its routines and SET team… it’s easy to get caught up in it all and ignoring your hobbies.

Then, by October… we are all struggling mentally… worn out and exhausted partly… because we have lost that work/life balance. Many NQTS feel that they have no other choice to work 24/7 to keep on top of things… but they do. Firm boundaries and an intention to stick to them will help prevent burnout in the long run.

One of my clients – an NQT simply began by committing to herself to leave the classroom twice a week by 4pm and making a gym class on the way home. What small changes would work in your life?

2. Not Understanding Money Matters
Do you know what point on the scale you should be on? Have you scheduled in your diary when you’re due to move onto the next point? Do you understand your payslip?

Gathering this information from the outset will be important for your financial wellbeing. Call payroll and your union with a list of the questions that you need answered and pop them in a folder dedicated to your finances.

3. Don’t Take Things Too Seriously

Yes. Notes are important. Yes. The curriculum needs to covered…. but what is the path of least resistance? From whom can you get ideas quickly? Who can give you support? Introducing what simple routine may make that sticky situation better?
Have a laugh with your staff. Take your break times. Enjoy fun times with your pupils, friends and family as often as you can!

4. Believe in Yourself
You are a qualified teacher.
You’ve passed… intensive teaching practices.
You bring valuable experience from your life and perhaps a previous career to the classroom.
You are passionate about education and your pupils.

For years, I questioned myself. I wondered if I was good enough… questioned if I was doing the right thing. I compared myself to others (It’s hard not to, right?!) Now I know I offer experience from a wide variety of schools, I’ve traveled and I’ve even floated on a boat in the Amazon. I offer a different perspective, different experiences and expertise than others do. I trust that I’m doing my best for my pupils.

STAND UP FOR YOURSELF. “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent” – Elenor Roosevelt.
Be that a colleague, a parent, your neighbor, the girl next to you in the gym or school management. If things go wrong, figure out the best way to deal with the situation.

5. Practice assertiveness skills.
Remind yourself daily of the positive aspects about yourself, reflect from your experiences and take action on things you need to improve and take action to improve things but remember your worth!

Run-ins with parents are an inevitable part of the job. I’m shy to say it but I’ve been crushed in the past by situations with parents and I’ve found that the key thing is to learn from them and get stronger as a result. Either take on board their criticism and learn from it or sometimes, chalk it down to the parent having a bad day. That was a major lesson from me that I learned from a more experienced member of staff when I was just teaching a couple of years. Sometimes, people take their frustrations out on others when things are going badly in their own personal lives. Hearing this and what had happened to her in the past in similar situations with angry parents and subsequently – she found out what was happening at home (through parents’ apologies etc) helped me re-frame the bad experience in a more positive light. I no longer let the experience affect me as a person. I was able to take it on a professional level and lessen the impact it had on me personally. I know I am trying my best.

If you want to begin your NQT year, avoid burnout and put a strategy in place to help you separate work and home life contact me today.
Begin as you mean to go on!