The first few days in school have been busy and challenging. I found the first day in particular hard going. There was a lot of noise and I didn’t get half as much done as I had planned. On teaching practice you don’t really get a sense of how much time is devoted to teaching procedures during the first weeks of school – I learned this the hard way this week. You don’t get a lot of teaching done because so much time is spent showing the children how to do simple tasks such as writing in their copies, as well as creating expectations and sticking to them from day one. So much of the early weeks of the year are about forming relationships with the children as well.
At the moment, I am introducing a group reward system, as well as individual rewards at the end of the week. I have also purchased stickers (€1.49 in Easons for 218) to put on their weekly tests and am thinking about investing in a few stampers to use on their homework if they’ve made a big effort/done really well.
Teaching is also different to teaching practice in that you are expected to follow certain schemes linked with books, particularly in literacy, which is practically the opposite of what you’re told on TP. The children have bought the books and parents expect them to be used. They take some of the pressure off teachers in a way because when you’re using them it means you don’t have to plan things like spellings and phonics from scratch, but it also means that you’re very much tied to them and the way in which the work is laid out. I’m also finding the core subjects are also very repetitive in the junior end and it can feel like you’re doing the same thing every day – Maths, tables, mental maths, spellings, phonics, Gaeilge, litriú, etc…
I read somewhere recently that teachers make more minute-by-minute decisions than brain surgeons and that’s why we’re so tired in the evenings. Whether or not that is true, it certainly feels like there are a million and one things whirring around my brain all day until I’m finished for the evening. I found myself making some silly but avoidable mistakes, such as forgetting to tick every copy and then finding that some homework wasn’t done when I looked at them later. I’m not going to be too hard on myself though, as I’ve only done a few days so far. I think it takes a while to find your feet and that’s okay. As regards health and well being, I make sure I do a half hour of exercise every day, have good food and the odd treat and stop work by 8:30 in the evening. This requires using time wisely and a bit of discipline, but I think when I work like this the children learn a lot more, I’m a better teacher and I feel better in myself.
I haven’t been as on top of the job hunt as I should be. I did, however, get the opportunity to have my application assessed by Education Interview Hub and I have to say, it was well worth it. I went to one of their seminars and used a lot of their advice, but getting it assessed formally really made a difference. They give detailed, objective advice, no nastiness, just really helpful and informative. I feel a lot more confident about applying for jobs now that I have the application assessed by a professional in the know.