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Surviving and succeeding in the first year of teaching: The first training day

surviving-teachingAlex Galvin, Senior Education Lead, SSAT, writes…

In this series we are sharing advice for new teachers from Geoff Barton, headteacher of King Edward VI School on how to make a success of your early months in teaching. In this third piece, we take you through the first in-school training day…


What should I expect on my first training day?

Training days were introduced in 1988 as an opportunity for staff to have some high quality training during the school day, rather than in snatched meetings after a day’s teaching. The actual format and quality of training days will vary from one school to another.

Six tips for making the most of your first training day

1: Use the day to absorb more about the culture and expectations of the school you are now part of. Expect to listen more than you contribute, to learn names of staff, to get a sense of what the school’s priorities are.

2: There will usually be a whole-staff session at which new members of the team are introduced (that’s you), results are analysed, and key issues for the year set out. Make a note of any key information as it may be useful to refer to it later. Take the opportunity to meet other members of staff.

3: There may also be specific introductions to areas like ICT, safeguarding, and time in your department. If you have not had enough information about important school policies, eg behaviour and rewards, make sure that you ask someone for a copy.

4: Have a list of the key bits of information you want to find out, such as:

  • Where are registers kept? Do you feel confident using the school’s registration systems?
  • What are the expectations for how to fill in a tutor group and lesson register?
  • Where are spare pens, paper, and other stationery?

5: Set aside time to be in your own classroom, if you have one, even if it’s at the end of the day. Use this time to orientate yourself. Getting the teacher’s desk in the right place, thinking through where you will stand as students arrive and exit, organising your resources, making sure displays convey the right message about you and your expectations, checking that equipment (eg the interactive whiteboard) works.

6: Check whether there’s any essential equipment you’re lacking for the next day – A4 paper, exercise books, board markers.

Advice from those who’ve been there and done it

Don’t be scared to ask for advice. Everyone knows what it’s like to be new, so make sure you ask other teachers if you are unsure of anything. Make sure you know the school procedures, especially when it comes to classroom management. Going to staff members and asking for their ideas is a great way to meet new people and develop a positive relationship with those around you.
Lorna, Bartley Green School

Be professional. Don’t indulge in gossip: you don’t know who you’re talking to!
Emily, Comberton Village College

Chat to all of the staff – not just those in your department. It really pays if you know office/site/repro staff well too. Learn the names of key people.
Elen, Balcarras School

Learn the names and roles of important people in the school and use them effectively to support your first year – SENCO, safeguarding officer, behaviour, uniform and attendance officer/administrator, school nurse, site manager. Know where to send students/who to email for medical issues, uniform issues, behaviour issues and write them in a
little book.
Nicola, Comberton Village College

There will be a lot of things you won’t know about in your new school. Call upon the resources of the staff in your school. It will help you to become more familiar with policies and help you build working relationships with members of staff outside of your department.
Tom, The Heath School

Recognise that you are part of a team and your departmental colleagues are your greatest strength – build your relationships well.
Danny, St John Plessington Catholic College



What are your experiences of your first year in teaching? What worked for you? What didn’t work? Let us know via Twitter with the hashtag #SSATsurvive or in the comments below.

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