Basics for young teachers
Starting as a junior teacher at a new school is pretty exciting: there is a new building, lots of new faces and colleagues who are already a community. Here we explain how you can quickly find your way around and how well you arrive at the college.
Starting at a new school: unusual and exciting
Heading into your first day at a brand new school? Congratulations! Because it doesn’t matter whether you are a young teacher or a trainee teacher: starting at a school is always a new, unfamiliar situation. However, with a few tried and tested tips you will quickly find your way around.
Get an idea beforehand
Basically, the better you prepare for your start at the new school, the easier it will be to get started. There are some things that you cannot plan or have on the screen in advance, but you can clarify many things for yourself at an early stage. If possible, find out more about your new school in advance. Visit the school’s website, scour the press and magazines, ask for brochures and ask around. Pay a visit to the school before your first day: you can get a first impression and at the same time test your commute and find your way to the staff room. So you are much less excited on the “Day of the Day”.
Get an idea beforehand
Basically, the better you prepare for your start at the new school, the easier it will be to get started. There are some things that you cannot plan or have on the screen in advance, but you can clarify many things for yourself at an early stage. If possible, find out more about your new school in advance. Visit the school’s website, scour the press and magazines, ask for brochures and ask around. Pay a visit to the school before your first day: you can get a first impression and at the same time test your commute and find your way to the staff room. So, you are much less excited on the “Day of the Day”.
The most important information you should gather in advance:
- The profile of the school, including the (extra) school offers
- The number of teachers and the number of students
- The educational focus, i.e. the mission statement or the school program work
- The catchment area and the social environment of your new school
It is also advisable that you get an overview of which dates and events are scheduled throughout the school year and which deadlines you need to keep in mind (e.g. for the warnings in the event of an endangered transfer). Such appointments and events are typically school enrolments, information days, advisory and specialist conferences, Christmas concerts, markets and holidays, semi-annual conferences, parents’ days, project weeks, theatre performances, music evenings, school farewells, sports festivals, summer festivals, certificate conferences and finally farewells.
Get to know your colleagues
The “staff” has a decisive influence on a school, so you should definitely get to know the people involved in your new workplace. The same applies here as everywhere else: you have to come to terms with some people, with others the chemistry is right, right away. With a bit of luck, you will feel welcome immediately. If getting to know each other is a bit bumpy, there is no reason to panic.
You should of course be on good terms with the school administration. This includes the school management itself, as well as their deputies and, if necessary, coordinators or other colleagues of the “extended school management”. Try to find out who is responsible for what as soon as possible. For example, who do you have to contact when it comes to pedagogical questions? Who is the contact person for organizational matters? Who do you talk to about disciplinary problems and violations of school rules and school law? Who decides on the distribution of hours and the timetable? And finally: who takes care of the school budget?
Don’t forget: The good souls of your new school
If you get on well with your colleagues, don’t forget the secretaries and caretakers. You will always have a lot to do with these “good souls of the school business” – so make sure that you meet them and give them the necessary recognition. For the caretaker, this means the following:
- Always let us know in good time if you are planning a parents’ evening, for example.
- Never schedule evening appointments on the caretaker’s traditional “free evening” and generally avoid Friday evenings.
- Keep the class clean and tidy. It’s best to be the last to leave.
- Close all windows.
- Pay attention to the waste separation.
- Pupils with a particular urge to exercise or be busy can also be assigned to help the caretaker – for example with cleaning the schoolyard.
- The students can easily remove chewing gum from under the table themselves with a spatula.
- You should introduce the caretakers to new classes. If he wants, he can give the students a few tips to help them along the way.
The same applies to the secretaries: think along with them and meet them wherever you can. You don’t have to get rid of time-consuming requests during the long break and then wait for them to be dealt with 10 minutes later. Always hand in grading lists or other “paperwork” in good time. And every now and then, a small gift in the form of chocolate can be absolutely appropriate.
Grow into the faculty
Of course, the relationship with your fellow teachers is particularly important. The cooperation is worth its weight in gold for you and ultimately also for your students. For example, you can fall back on tried-and-tested materials and get tips from experienced colleagues (on “unwritten laws” at your new school, but also for your lessons in general).
Of course, you will hardly be firmly integrated everywhere from day one: there are small groups in every college and the smaller they are and the longer they have existed, the more difficult it will be for you to get into it. A good approach can be activities outside of the normal school routine: Are there literary circles, sports groups, a choir or an orchestra in which colleagues spend their free time together? Then get involved there – this way you can get to know the staff from a different angle in a relaxed manner.
In everyday school life, cooperation with colleagues can then take the form of coordinating lesson content in parallel classes, regularly exchanging problems, or even carrying out lessons together. Perhaps mutual internships with subsequent exchange are also possible. What is common in this context varies by college; sometimes you have to take the initiative. Make successful worksheets available to your colleagues, for example. You can also simply leave your template at the teacher’s table or next to the copier – colleagues often become curious and ask whether you can use the template. This can be the beginning of a good cooperation.
Don’t rush anything and be patient with yourself and others. After all, you first have to grow into your new job – and also into the college.