When I started teaching, I knew what type of teacher I wanted to be: good at explaining content; patient yet firm with students; fair; one that sets high expectations; motivating and, maybe, funny. I wanted to be able to communicate my passion for science every day. But there were some things I didn’t know, some very important things that I have come to learn.
Teaching is not about instant gratification
Don’t get me wrong, the thanks and rewards do come. Sometimes it may take weeks, sometimes months or even years. There can be a feeling — when you are staying back late at school developing engaging lessons and working on the weekends to get through marking — that teaching can be a thankless task.
Trust me, the hard work is worth it: when parents tell you they are thankful that you are teaching their child, and that their child came home and described work you have been doing; thanks will come again when your students see their marks improve. There is no prouder moment than seeing your students’ eyes light up when they achieve their goals.
Teach with your door open
Having other teachers in your classroom is one of the best ways to reflect on your practice and get feedback from your colleagues. The observations made in your classroom are always “classroom observations” and never teacher observations. They are good evidence for your PDP and excellent if you need a reference for job applications. Just as you would expect from your students, be open to learning new tricks and skills.
It is OK to say no
As new graduate or temporary teachers, with fairly scant resumes or permanent jobs to apply for, we sometimes feel it necessary to say yes to any opportunity that comes our way. Your classroom teaching remains the most important thing you can do for your students, so if you do take on extra responsibilities make sure they do not take away from your ability to deliver the necessary content. Be thoughtful about the responsibilities you choose to take on. Pick one or two responsibilities that interest you and do them well. Choose new responsibilities that will look good on your resume but more importantly will improve your teaching practice and benefit your students at the same time.
Remember, your journey through your first few years of teaching is your own, you have the ability to change the life of the students who walk into your room. Teaching is the hardest job in the world, it is also the best job in the world. Never lose your passion for the amazing opportunity we are given every time a student walks into our room ready to learn.
Leah Moon is a science teacher at Rose Bay Secondary College