How can you get the most out of your first term as an ECT?
Every year 1000s of ECT (Early Careers Teachers) embark on their first term of induction – this blog post identifies some key ideas to help you get the most from your first term.
As an ECT how can you make sure your first term is as successful as possible? This blog post will share the top tips (from my experience) that every ECT should hold on to.
1. Believe in your abilities
Hopefully,, this is obvious, but imposter syndrome is a tricky beast! You have achieved QTS and secured that job for a reason. You absolutely deserve to be there and you are completely equipped with everything you need to be successful.
2. Build relationships (with everyone)
Every person you interact with when working in a school can make your life harder or easier. By spending time getting to know each other – pupils, parents, support staff and everyone else, you will have an incredible network of advice and support to draw on. Not to mention some ‘social currency’ for when you need help with a difficult conversation.
3. Ask for help
No one expects you to be the perfect finished article (teachers retire before they reach this pinnacle of perfection because development never ends). You are always learning as a teacher, and there will be plenty you don’t know. Never be afraid to ask or share when things get tough. Schools are hugely supportive places but can only offer you support if they know what you need.
4. Find your tribe
Surround yourself and spend time with colleagues that energise you. There will be colleagues you find have a similar way of thinking or make you look at things differently. Don’t simply create an ‘echo chamber’ to constantly validate your opinions. Instead, find those who will challenge you to be better and champion you to succeed!
5. Protect your own time
As an ECT, you will need to get everything done all the time and to say yes to every opportunity. You need to make sure you save time for things you enjoy and energise you. You are the most important resource in the classroom, and you being there is going to have the biggest impact on pupil progress. Make sure you protect your time and invest in your wellbeing. It is the most important thing you can do.
6. Say ‘No’
Following on from the point above, saying know can feel an impossible situation as an ECT. You want to make a good impression and you feel that saying no will somehow damage your entire career. However, saying no can protect you and allow you to have the capacity to say yes to things that you genuinely want to do. Remember, you don’t need to answer straight away. If saying yes will cause your anxiety to increase or take you down a path you don’t want to go, say no!
7. It is ok that every lesson isn’t perfect
In fact most lessons won’t be the best you have ever taught – teaching a perfect lesson every time is unsustainable. If a lesson you teach does not go the way you planned – reflect on it, but don’t dwell on it. Equally, when a lesson goes brilliantly, make sure you reflect on the why – and use that to help drive you forward. 20 years in, I still have lessons that don’t go as I intended. It is all part of the journey.
8. Enough is good enough
In a similar vane to the point above – when you are planning or preparing for a lesson, have had a bad night’s sleep, or are feeling a bit under the weather. Sometimes you have to make peace with ‘enough being good enough’. I have planned enough to be able to teach. I am here and awake and able to teach. As I said earlier, you being the consistent presence in the room will have the biggest impact on pupil progress.
9. Magpie ideas
In the same way that you don’t fully learn to drive until you have passed your test, you are not the teacher now that you will be in one year, three years, five years or ten. We are constantly evolving. Wherever possible, take opportunities to watch other teachers. Experienced teachers often make it look effortless – ask them what they did to make it look like that. They were once where you are now. You’ll use this information to evolve your practice – even if you are thinking that what you have seen is not something you would do!
10. Enjoy it
There will be so many ‘moments’ in teaching that give you the buzz and is why you became a teacher. The things pupils say, the lightbulb moments, the laughter in the staffroom, the positive comments from colleagues and parents. Hold on to these!
Good luck in your first term and keep these tips in mind – you’ve got this!
Welcoming new writer Andrew Taylor.
Andrew is an experienced ECT mentor looking to support and develop ECTs. Currently working as a lecturer at the University of Worcester and author of upcoming book for ECTs – You Got This.
You can find him on Twitter @MrTs_NQTs.