Tips for New Chemistry Teachers

Next year's cohort of new chemistry teachers will soon be arriving in their new schools following their training. It is almost certain that for most of them, the year ahead will seem to be a daunting prospect, however there are many sources of guidance and support which can be tapped in to during the year. The most important thing is to remember you are not on your own and many other people have gone through the same experience in previous years.

Here is a useful list of things to help make the transition from a newly qualified chemistry teacher to a confident and successful teaching practitioner:

1) Ask for help

In the early days it is vital to ask for help and advice from your colleagues. It is only natural to be unsure of how things work or what should be done in certain situations. The more knowledge which you gain early on will allow a much more smooth transition into life as a teacher in your school.

2) Talk to your peers

Form a support group, perhaps on Facebook or some other social networking site, with some fellow teachers which you trained with the previous year. Allow time and space for helping each other out with ideas for lessons, resources and letting off steam. Schools can sometimes become very pressurised places and it is good to have people and places where you can relieve yourself of unnecessary stress.

3) Allow time to relax

This is certainly going to be a very busy and tiring experience, however you need to still maintain some perspective and work-life balance. Make sure you build in periods for rest and relaxation during your week, especially at the weekend. Allow yourself a chance to recharge your batteries! Perhaps play some sport, go to the cinema, organise a shopping trip- anything to take your mind off school!

4) Eat properly and maintain your energy levels

Many teachers, especially when new to the profession, fall in to the trap of skipping breakfast in the morning and then working through lunch to get things done. This can be very detrimental to your health and wellbeing and you are more likely to become run down and ill. By eating properly and fuelling your body, you will be able to deal with any challenges more easily.

5) Go to bed early

Set yourself a curfew time when all work has to be stopped and start to wind down before bedtime. If you can't do this then delegate the responsibility of enforcing the curfew to your partner! I'm sure they would be very keen to get to spend some time with you.

6) Use prepared resources

You will have enough on your plate with planning lessons, marking work, attending meetings etc without having to spend hours making your own resources. Make use of many excellent free resources which are available online for free and often produced by highly experienced teachers.

7) Associate with positive people

It can be all too easy to become down and depressed, especially when you have a lot of work and responsibility to contend with. There can be many negative voices and complaining people inhabiting a staffroom, try to afford being sucked into their world. Find yourself some positive, supportive people to hang out with at lunchtimes as they will help you to feel more happy about work. These people look on the positive side of life and are usually good to talk to for support and advice.

8) Enjoy the learning process

There will be many new pieces of information which need to be learnt and become familiar with, which can be a daunting task. You will not learn everything straightaway, so take things as they come and look on teaching as a long term acquisition of knowledge.

9) Don't take on too much, too early

It is tempting to get involved with many other activities which are associated with school life in addition to your usual teaching schedule. Leave these extra things alone, if possible, until you are fully comfortable with just the day to day teaching requirements. You will have many more opportunities as your career develops to become involved in hundreds of extra activities. Enjoy your spare time and keep it to yourself!

10) Keep smiling

Always remember that at the end of the day, teaching is a job! You don't need to carry the troubles and woes of the world on your own shoulders. There will always be students which need help and have problems. Always try to switch off when away from work and realise that the contribution you make will be immense without even having to think about it!

Andrew Lochery founded Green APLEducation Ltd in 2007.