Ten Tips on Getting Ready for September

Congratulations on getting your first job! It’s an exciting time and one I can remember very well. There are butterflies in your tummy and every emotion from A to Z, and all the way back again. This is the time to get ready, mentally and physically, for what promises to be the best time of your life. So here are my personal Top Ten Tips to help you get ready for next September…

  1. Take stock. I don’t mean literally. So however tempting it may seem, a dawn raid on your favourite online stationery supplier isn’t entirely necessary – your new school (I know, it’s still exciting, squeeeee) will have things for you, so hang fire a bit (see Number 3 below). There are a lot of things in your mind right now. So sort out your priorities. Basically, job number one is working out what your job number one is and then what everything is, in order. I’d think about housing, transport, etc, because these are a big deal and take time to sort out. It might be that you need to clear out where you live now, to make it easier to do your job – there’s lots of college stuff that you won’t actually need now.
  2. Clothes. Honestly, getting this sorted is such a good thing to do. When term starts you’ll be in the thick of things with the new children and new faces, and it’s great if you have the basic stuff like this off your mind. I know you’re sensible enough to have thought about this already, and bearing that in mind I won’t mention that getting clothes that won’t show too many bodily fluids (the children’s, obviously) is a major plus, and can handle being washed when splashed with paint, splotted with ink, and other savoury and unsavoury delights. Shoes are key to an outfit as Gok Wan will no doubt tell you, but bare in mind that teachers are on their feet all day in all weathers, and what looks great in the shop might be instruments of torture come teatime. You don’t have to go all sensible brogues and hiking boots, I’d hate that, and some schools can have a dress code about shoes too, so check that out. When I started teaching, my headteacher said we weren’t permitted to wear “patio wear” and still don’t know exactly what she meant.
  3. The Pencil Case. This is the bit where you go online and order that new pencil case and pens and whatever goodies your heart desires. Then you go to school and they hand you a school diary and a box of pens that you must use. Check first before you buy what the school has and will give you. Schools have different policies about buying resources and spending petty cash, and if you want to make or buy anything, be prepared to pay for it yourself. Don’t get caught out.
  4. The Stock Cupboard. If you are wanting to make resources for the stock cupboard, again check first with what is there already. My advice here is to make as you go. I have spent time on making resources that I thought would be lovely to use…and then never did. Decide a specific time or activity in mind for when you are going to use them, and write that down now in a planner. Get to know your children and spend time with them, work them out and then make resources that suit them. I’ve found that one set of activities that worked brilliantly with one class didn’t work at all the following year, or that ones that hardly worked one year, took off the next. It’s timing, patience and not forcing anything on them simply because you have a brilliant idea.
  5. The Secret Tin. There is one absolute must have for every classroom, which nearly all teachers acquire after a year or two, but don’t tell anyone about. It’s a closely guarded secret. It’s secretest secret of them all. I will impart this to you now. We all have a secret stash. It does not contain illicit drugs or confiscated items from That Boy in Sycamore Class with The Dodgy Dad. No. It contains items more rare and exciting than any of those – usually glue sticks, post-it notes, the special pens and, at Christmas time, sparkly paper, glitter, and the will to live (sorry). Guard these items with your life. Every school has something that becomes precious at one time or another, so keep your stationery supply well hidden.
  6. Biscuits. This might not take the actual form of biscuits, but a handy supply of whatever cheers you up (no, not booze) on hand is always good. Having a photo or two to put on your wall or in a drawer is a lovely thing, though an entire gallery may be going too far. I saw a new class teacher upset a retiring member of staff with a “best teacher ever” picture from a child – as they’d put that up before the older teacher had actually left.
  7. Elf care. Look after yourself. Make sure you are fit and well before you start. Sleep well, eat well, look after your loved ones, and do whatever you do to maintain your self care. It is a lot easier to say than do, I know, but the stress of a new job, possibly moving house, can be really hard. If you need to, talk to someone at home, talk to someone in your school, a friend, or someone from out of the situation altogether, but do not feel alone. Remember that all of us in the teaching profession were new once too, and we all know what it was like.
  8. Planning, preparation, assessment Now for the sensible stuff – make sure you’ve read and read and read the school documentation through thoroughly. This will help you feel prepared and when faced with a tricky situation, you won’t feel like your floundering. Know who you should go to if there’s problem, who you should go to with a specific question (and be specific about it when you do go), and where to go to the toilet. Know what you’re going to teach, read around the topics/theme, sketch out ideas, talk to who you need to about them and take time to reflect on what you are doing. You might like to start to keep an informal journal, just for you. In mine, I write down the key jobs of the day, with an open bullet point. If I complete them, I tick the bullet point, if I don’t I put an arrow at the end of the note and write it down on to the next day. At the end of the day, I record my feelings in three words, as three gratitudes or three grumpitudes. I probably should be more positive, but I’m honest… 🙂
  9. And a cuddly toy… These are the best things to have around. They are comforting when someone is sad, great listeners and never, ever late with their homework. As a primary teacher, I use cuddly toys a lot. They help teach lessons, they cheer up sad children (and me) and are characters in stories that I tell children. If there was one thing I recommend you having it’s one of these… unless you teach secondary physics (or similar), in which case this blog probably hasn’t made much sense to you anyway (sorry).
  10. My BESTEST Advice EVER a) Don’t listen to me, as this is just based on my experience and whadda I know?, but b) enjoy your first year, you’ll remember it forever, so GOOD LUCK and c) don’t panic!

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