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Starting Your Teaching Journey...

Updated: Aug 17, 2021

Hello educators!


This blog post is full of top tips for PGCE and ECT teachers. Congratulations, you have now entered the best profession in the world (even if you haven’t secured a role yet)! Teaching is an amazing rollercoaster of many highs and many lows, but it’s a job which captures your heart, pushes you to be the best you can be, and allows you to see the amazing, beautiful, and inspiring potential of all the fabulous students you will encounter on your journey!


You will find that in your PGCE/ECT year, a lot of things may feel incredibly overwhelming, and sitting in your school with long standing members of staff who know what they are doing on the first inset day in September will be hugely overwhelming - we’ve been there, don’t fret, we promise it gets easier! People may not know who you are, you may not know where anything is, and your mind might be spinning thinking of ALLLL the things you need to do before the children arrive. Don’t worry, this is totally normal, and you will find your feet quicker than you think. It’s a quality we’ve found nearly all teachers to have, adaptability, flexibility, and quick thinking.

As teachers ourselves, we thought it would be useful to write down some tips to help you with your first day, and to give you a bit of an idea on what to expect throughout the year ahead. See out top 10 tips below:

  1. Make time for friends and family. Sometimes, school can feel very overwhelming and stressful, this is totally normal. We all have those days where the sound of the alarm clock can bring nothing but dread, especially in the Autumn when the days seem to be getting darker by the minute. But the best cure for this is making time for you, and your loved ones. Spend some quality time with your nearest and dearest, this is often underestimated, but we promise this will give you the spring in your step back. They are key to your wellbeing.

  2. Teacher’s are here to guide. Speak to other teachers about time management, how to map out your time and prioritise the important tasks. Be open and honest and learn when enough is enough, you will be no use to anyone if you’re tired and burnt out! If you need support, ask. Afterall, it is every single teacher's job to offer support to students and teachers alike, we’re in the best job for it. Make sure to utilise your fantastic mentors as much as you can, no question is silly, and the more you ask, the quicker you will learn. They are there to help, guide and support you, they only want the absolute best for their proteges.

  3. It’s only the start of your incredible journey. Accept early on that you are still very early in your brand new career, it’s okay to make mistakes and learn from them, it’s the constant learning that will help you develop into the best teacher you can possibly be. Also, don’t be scared of observations. We remember our first few... Shaking with nerves, stumbling over simple words, and even though we’d have everything super prepared, something always seemed to go wrong! It’s an opportunity to develop and learn, we know at times they can be nerve wracking, and taking constructive criticism can be daunting, but honestly, they are the key to your progress and can offer time to reflect on the skills you’ve learnt so far, and how to improve others.

  4. Monitor students to improve knowledge of students. Writing all of your students' names in your mark book the same way as the register in pencil is a great way to A. Remember your students names, B. Keep track of the ever changing flow of students, they leave and join more frequently than you think! And c, to gain insight of the abilities and needs of your students.

  5. Printing Try to get all of your printing done the night before, or further in advance if you’re super organised! There is nothing worse than turning up to your lesson feeling unprepared, or attempting to print in the morning, but someone else has decided to print booklets 10 minutes before the bell goes - yup, this does happen!

  6. Being polite and friendly: with the IT department, cleaners and any support staff in your school goes a really long way! They are essentially the core of the school, without them, we’d never be able to pursue our passion. And you never know when you may need help because a light bulb won’t stop flickering, you're unsure of how to handle a student in the classroom, or your smartboard just won’t connect. They are the unsung heroes of schooling, and we promise you, they know more about the school than most!

  7. Get to know your school systems and behaviour policy. Sending a student out sometimes can feel like a defeat, but when you realise that actually it’s more productive for other students, you can see the benefit when it’s needed. Here we’d advise knowing where extra worksheets, or pages in your textbook are that relate to the topic you’re teaching. When students are sent to work elsewhere, or for whatever other reason they may have to work elsewhere – it can be difficult to think of work on the spot, especially when under a time constraint or dealing with a particularly challenging class. If you know what topics are in each textbook, or where those extra handouts are, you will look like a pro!

  8. Have a “go to” bag or box in your cupboard or drawers. This was has been life-saving on too many occasions to count! We suggest items such as bobbles, a brush, toothbrush, wipes, spare clothes, feminine products, plasters, deodorant, pain killers and possibly the most important… snacks and drinks! These will not only help you, but will be helpful for colleagues in times of need too. Sometimes someone may need a bite of chocolate, or deodorant for that never ending heatwave at school. Trust us, this box or bag of goodies is hugely useful.

  9. Teacher planners, they don’t always need to be mapped out, "insta-ready", or super organised every single day of the year. As you go through the year, you’ll find what works best for you. For some a planner acts as a mindful activity as well as keeping them organised, for others their planner will be their last priority, and they can plan their time without it. Work out what’s best for you, after all, this year is for learning. If you find it overwhelming to make planner spreads, and keep up with the latest trends, then don’t, keep your energy for what is important to you. But if super cute planner spreads are your best friend, then stick to it, it’s all about finding your best way of working.

  10. You can do it, you will do it, and whatever comes your way you can work through it. It may seem impossible at the time, but you can do it! You may have a wobbly moment where nothing goes right, you spilled coffee on your new coat (thank goodness for the wipes in your “go to” bag!) The printer ran out of ink (we told you being friends with other school staff would come in handy!) And maybe your most challenging class is causing more trouble than usual (hello mentor… Please help!) But then a student can do something that will turn that rubbish day into one of your best, whether it's completing a fantastic piece of work, bringing a smile to your face through excellent subject knowledge, or offering thanks for being the awesome teacher you are. It is worth it. The ups and downs at times can be intense, but those ups make the job worth it.

As you move through the year it will become easier, you will find very quickly what works for you and what doesn’t. It is a huge learning curve whether you're fresh out of university or making a big career change. It is different from your training year, there is often a large focus on the academic side of teaching which is brilliant and allows you to understand how children learn, and the different techniques which develop your pedagogy and support your student’s needs. However, we like to compare teaching to driving. You only really learn how to drive when left on your own and face the big open road. Teaching is very similar, you have to become independent, adaptable and learn to develop your confidence quickly. Don’t worry if you feel like you are sinking, or are suffering from imposter syndrome – you are not alone! We have all felt like that at times, remember there will always be someone you can talk to for support, whether that’s your colleagues, mentor, or us! Our social media channels are always open, and we will always offer a listening ear. But we promise you, you will surprise yourself at how quickly you adapt to life as a teacher.

We've specially designed a desk pad with you in mind, called "The time to Reflect" Desk Pad. In your PGCE/ECT year it is vital that you reflect upon your practice, which this desk pad is perfect for! Also available in a "Time To Reflect" Gift Box. The desk pad includes a space for the date and day, and sections including "Today I Must", Today's Focus", "Today's Reflections", "What Can I Improve On" and "Something I'm Proud Of". This will help to start your day off right, and end your day recognising those all important achievements that will support you through your journey.

Good luck, you can do it, and hopefully you will love teaching as much as we do!


Thank you for reading,


The Mindful Teacher team X


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