Tales and advice from a second year teacher
For Nikki Ogden, securing a teaching position was the culmination of four years of hard work at university and the fulfilment of a long-held dream to become a primary school teacher. But it was also the start of an even bigger challenge: finding her feet in the classroom as a new teacher.
Nikki started her career as a Year 6 teacher at St Rita’s Catholic Primary School, Victoria Point in 2016.
When Nikki talks about teaching, her passion is clear — as is her desire to bring fresh ideas into the classroom. She regularly drains the battery on her iPad filling up Pinterest boards with pedagogical inspiration and has one of the most vibrantly and creatively decorated classrooms in her school, which this year includes a replica of the Dursley’s fireplace complete with ‘flying’ Hogwarts letters (pictured, below).
While there are many joys for a new teacher, there are also many challenges. Nikki generously shared what she had learnt in her first year and provided some advice for aspiring teachers at our union’s recent Kickstart Your Teaching Career training session for student members.
Nikki’s top tips:
- Draw on the behaviour management strategies you already know, but don’t be discouraged if they don’t work immediately – it’s an adjustment for you and your students.
- Collaborate. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your mentors, colleague teachers in your year level and other teachers you know.
- Say yes to opportunities, but also remember it’s okay to say no. Don’t take on too much in your first year. E.g. instead of signing up to coordinate a team, attend a camp or help out with the school musical.
- Remember that every teacher was once a graduate, so you won’t be expected to know everything from day one.
- Start collecting evidence for your professional practice portfolio early on and keeping collecting over the year.
- Don’t be discouraged if you are not keeping pace with other teachers in your year level – stay focused and you will get there in the end.
- Start a conversation with your principal about applying for full teacher registration when you are nearing eligibility to apply.
- Lean on family and friends and take time out for yourself to remain happy and healthy outside the classroom.
- Take note of the milestones – first class photo, first thank you from a parent, first learning breakthrough with a student – and enjoy them!
For more teaching tips, like our BEnet Facebook page at www.qieu.asn.au/beginningeducators