Michael Dunn is an Australian trained primary teacher who left Brisbane life for London town. Here is an honest rendition from Michael on what it’s like teaching 10,262 miles from home.
Managing the teaching workload
No one wants to be working hours upon hours unnecessarily, so you need to be clever with the time that you do have. Utilise your breaks in the day wisely. Yes there will be times when you will need to work overtime (we all do). Can you use the EA to help you along the way? Try to do as much over-the-shoulder checking as possible. Not only are you able to correct mistakes, but you’re also able to explain corrections to the students.
At times, you can mark while students are working, especially during literacy maths. Try to get at least half done during the lesson, it does save time. If there are strong students in the class and they’ve finished their work before others, see if they are willing to peer mark. It’s always good to engage the students.
Maintaining a positive outlook
Maintaining a positive atmosphere = effective classroom management.
This is why it’s good to recognise positive behaviour and praise when possible, while keeping negative responses to a minimum. However, don’t be afraid to stop and warn a child for disruptive behaviour if need be.
Your integrity is important. If a concern arises in the classroom, try using the sandwich model to address the problem – highlight the positive, followed by the negative, sandwiched with another positive.
I have found it useful to keep a behaviour journal throughout the day to pass on to the teacher, to not only keep the student accountable, but yourself as well.
Being yourself and show interest
Look at each school and classroom scenario as a learning opportunity to develop your skills as a teacher. You may not (and will not) agree with absolutely everything a school does, but take advantage of these situations to see what does and doesn’t work.
If you aren’t in the teaching profession whole-heartedly, I’m not going to lie, you might find teaching in London (especially in a supply capacity) a little hectic and unrewarding. What helps is walking through the door with a positive attitude, and treasuring the small moments and interactions. Make a difference in your students’ lives if only for the day. Take interest in them by getting to know what they’re interested in as this can help you cater lessons accordingly.
Stay tuned for Part Four, in which Michael will talk about some of his top tips for preparing for lessons…