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School ChecklistsHow to Fit in at a New School Checklist
As the saying goes, preparation is everything. Whether you are new to teaching and beginning your first placement or an old hand moving to a new school environment, it's natural to feel nervous. As each school is different, it can be incredibly daunting to think about all the new people and procedures you'll be unfamiliar with, so it's a good idea to make sure that you have every aspect of your day planned out well in advance.
Aside from good lesson plans, there are many things you can do to help you prepare for not only your new environment, but also for those early days of employment where you'll be unsure of how the school runs - so here's a checklist of what you can do to make your day - and teaching life - run more smoothly.
First of all, ensure that you are clear on the school's official policies and procedures before you begin your new position. Not only is it good for you to know these items, but chances are the school will expect you to know - and if it doesn't, it will be impressed that you do.
Plan lessons well in advance and have plenty of resources ready to use. Always make sure that you have a plan B, just in case - there's nothing worse than relying on something only to have it pulled away when you discover a subject is too advanced, too facile, or has been covered already.
Make sure that you are given a timetable of the day and you know when breaks and lunch are to be taken. This will contribute to your day's planning and ensure that lessons aren't interrupted by breaks.
Familiarise yourself with the department and physical layout of the school. If possible, meet your head of department and colleagues. It'll be good to see a friendly face during those early days and peer support is crucial to your development in your new job.
Find out what the protocol is on basic admin tasks such as photocopying. It might sound simple, but schools have different policies on these issues and you don't want to photocopy 500 sheets of paper only to be told that you have an allocation of 200.
Once you are in the classroom, try to maintain order as quickly as possible by learning pupils' names quickly and creating a seating plan. Ensure that you are consistent in your communication, discipline and attitude and always keep your cool with pupils - even if you're peddling like mad underneath your calm exterior! Remember, the pupils will likely be as anxious about meeting their new teacher as you are about meeting them!
In the long term, it can be a good idea to commit to personal and professional development programmes. Getting involved with extra-curricular activities, such as sports and after-school clubs is also a good way of making your presence noticed and making friends with your fellow teachers. Not only will this help boost confidence, it looks great on your CV too.
Your first forays into new teaching jobs - either as a newcomer or an experienced hand - are exciting, nerve-wracking periods; but they can be made easier! Just remember: preparation is everything - so make some notes, learn some protocols and then just enjoy getting to know your new pupils and co-workers.