Knowing What To Do

​(before you start)

Knowing what to do seems like an obvious place to start, but often when we leave the safety of our University and are thrust into a classroom of our own it can be difficult to know where to begin. What will I need? How much time do I allocate to each curriculum area? What are the units that I will be teaching in Term 1? 

I found in the lead up to Term 1 I became so overwhelmed by the “insta-teacher” image and classroom that I didn’t know where to start. I couldn’t afford the bright and fancy classroom resources and stylish clothes so I couldn’t “fake it till I make it”. By the end of week 1 I had switched into survival mode. I already felt overwhelmed and behind. I recall the exact moment during week 1 that a member of my teaching team told me “teaching is just THAT hard”.

It really doesn’t have to be THAT hard. Yes, teaching involves a huge amount of work, with class complexities, team dynamics and the crowded curriculum. Teaching stirs in us an emotional toll unlike other careers. Organisation helps you stay on top of things but often you will not be able to achieve everything you really wish for your class. You must remember to be kind to yourself. You are learning and that is okay. There are things that can make your life easier however and that’s why I’ve created Primary Flow.

Firstly, you need to gather information from your school. Make sure that you know the school goals and strategic plan. Where are they wanting to see growth in their learners? What areas require improvement? What support do they provide their teachers in reaching these goals? These will often shape the strategies and pedagogies that will be expected to be embedded within your classroom. You will need to check back in with these throughout the year to make sure that you are focusing on these areas. 

  • What is the behaviour management strategy that the school uses and the escalation procedure? 

  • Does the school follow or utilise any programs?

  • Where possible, find out what are the first English and Mathematics units, and familiarise yourself with these curriculum areas first.

  • What are the needs of students in the class? What adjustments have worked in the past?

  • How many support hours are allocated to the class? What does learning support in the school look like/ how does it run?

  • Get to know your mentor. If you don’t think they are the best person for you, actively seek out someone that you admire within your school when you start. This was one of the best things that I did for my mental health and self-esteem within my first year of teaching. 

What do I do in Week 1?

You have a classroom full of students and they’re all waiting on you, now what? Week 1 is all about getting to know your students and setting up explicit expectations and procedures. How do the students move around the school during learning time? What transitions would you like in place? When is it okay for them to leave their desks or move around the classroom? What do they do if they don’t have a pencil? If students aren’t told and modelled these expectations they will make up their own and it will be chaos. I learned this the hard way! 

Relationships must come first. This is the golden rule of teaching. If you take nothing else away from this blog please remember that the students come first. The better you know the students the easier it is to pull them aside on their behaviour or identify when something isn’t okay. Relationships, first.

Don’t forget to call your friends and family. No one gets you like your closest people and it’s important that you have them with your through this journey. Make time for them even when it feels like you have no time. Make a note in your diary early during this planning phase because by week 5 you will be feeling like you have 99 jobs and every time you start 1 another is added to the list. It will be the best reset you could ask for. 

I have put together a couple of basic resources below to get you started and thinking about what you need to get done before and during your first planning week. Good luck!