Your First Year of Teaching

Today marks the first day of Term 1 for many primary and secondary schools. If you've just had your first day ever teaching, congratulations! You're at the start of a fantastic and rewarding career. 

Beginning your teaching journey is really exciting but can be pretty nerve-wracking, and it's always helpful to hear stories from teachers who have 'been there, done that'. 

I asked three of Education Personnel's team members, all experienced teachers, to share their memories of their first year of teaching and some words of encouragement and advice for beginning teachers. 

Stu Birch, Managing Director

"To be honest I have no memory whatsoever of my first day teaching... but strong memories of my first year. I still remember a lot of the kids from my first class... they taught me a lot! My (old and faded) advice for BT's:

1.  It took me a while to work out that while I thought I knew everything... I actually knew very little about teaching or learning or kids or being a teacher. It would have been a lot better for me, my students and my colleagues if I had a more realistic view of what I did and didn't know. Teaching is like everything else... for most mortals it takes a while to get good at it, more than just a couple of practicums... more like a couple of years... at least. Take the opportunity to learn from everyone in the school.

2.  Know that it does get easier. I've never been as exhausted as in my first year teaching... I guess I was trying to make up for my lack of knowledge and skill by sheer bloody hard work.  And I think mostly it worked... but I was so tired! I couldn't believe how easy and quick everything was by the time I started my second year of teaching... much better as I'd already had a year of practice!"

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Adwina Armstrong, Senior Consultant

"I honestly can't remember either. My first year, I taught ECE, Primary and Secondary!

All I can say is, 

Whether you're a beginning or experienced teacher, ECE, Primary or Secondary teacher, you can never be too prepared.

  • Be organized, plan your activities/lessons well (don't forget Plan B) and try to be a step ahead of the children. 
  • Get to know your students and understand how they learn.
  • Children are a joy and full of wonder. For me, it was about how I can spark that curiosity and build their love for knowledge and learning
  • My classes had to be fun and inclusive where the children can't wait to come back the next day to see what challenges I have for them. There will be less disruption if the children/students are engaged in a lesson/activity.

Some teacher quotes:

"The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires." - William Arthur Ward

"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." - Albert Einstein

"There are no difficult students - just students who don't want to do it your way" - Jane Revell & Susan Norman

"A good teacher is like a candle - it consumes itself to light the way for others". - Author Unknown

Oh, now I miss teaching!"


Melanie Inglis, Recruitment Manager

"Well goodness me feels like my first day of teaching back in 1990's is all ancient history now.

I still remember aspects of it though and being very enthusiastic about my new role. What I would advise new BT's is to approach your new role with an open mind, be ready to continue learning as your teaching practices and training at Teachers College is only the tip of the iceberg.

I think its vital to be prepared, have ideas up your sleeve and be on the ball with planning, resources etc - however don't over plan as you want to be flexible for those teachable moments. Also your first year of teaching is the most difficult in terms of managing stress, tiredness and of course be prepared to get sick - I think in my first year I had more sick days than all of my teaching career. You can't do everything so pace yourself.

Don't be afraid to ask for help  - if you make mistakes or feel unsure about things this is the best way to learn. The children won't necessarily know. Most of all have fun!!! This is a great career and very rewarding in more ways than one - you can make a difference - remember you don't have to know it all and learning is something that continues on a daily basis and you will do for the rest of your career."

If you have any experiences or advice to offer for beginning teachers, please feel free to comment below!