Starting at a new school

3 February 2022

By Kyle Sutton
ACHPER NSW Board member
Head teacher PDHPE

If you are starting a new school as a first time teacher or relocating to a new school through a transfer or merit selection, the first couple of weeks can be quite unsettling. Here are a few ways you can ensure that you have the best start to the term:

#1 Timetable
Know your classes, the year groups you have. This will include periods and the time in which the bell goes. I tend to write the times in my diary for at least the first term until I am confident with how the school day will proceed. It should also show where you are for playground duty as well.

#2 Technology Support Officer (TSO)
Engage with the TSO. They will most likely be the port of call for being able to connect your computer to the printers to print things off. Or they will be able to hopefully provide you with a laptop or computer at the school.

#3 Scope and Sequence
Once you have your classes you will be able to engage with the scope and sequence of each year group and start to engage with the teaching and learning activities for the term and the year groups that you will be teaching.

As a new teacher I find being planned a week in advance, two if you can really be that organised, helps with the flow of your day and youre not running photocopies off at the last minute.

#4 School layout
Become familiar with the layout of the school. Understand where to get practical gear for a lesson and be shown the process by someone who has already been at the school. If they provide you with a preview of what the lesson will look like practically you will have a greater understanding of how to have success with your own classes.

#5 Establish routines
Just like Pavlov routines are essential for success. Whether it is lining up outside the classroom waiting for you or when you blow your whistle in practical lessons, ensure it is the same each time. Some of your other rules might link with your expectations of the class. I usually have between 3-5 rules that are non-negotiable. For example, hands up, treating others with respect, not to talk over others when they are speaking.

#6 Relationships
I couldn’t stress this enough. Build them across the school with everyone. Look to find and connect with the people who make up the school as you will more than likely be engaging with all members of the school community at one stage.

One way I like to do this is to observe others teach, whether in the PDHPE faculty or across the school. For example, you may have a challenging class and because you are new they want to test you out. Look for an opportunity to observe them in another classroom and you may pick up some tricks to add to your teacher bag.

#7 Student and teacher names
I have Sentral as my operating system so hovering the mouse of the student’s name in pxp will always show me their picture. Obviously with Covid and mask-wearing that does create some difficulties but at least it’s a start. I know not all schools use Sentral but I’m sure the platform you use is similar.

#9 Ask questions
Do not be afraid to continue to ask questions until you understand the process. There is no point pretending to know what to do if you don’t, so ask someone who does. You would rather be looking confident in front of the students because you are new.

#10 Have fun
A new school can always be a bit daunting but a quote I keep pondering to myself is – Seek Discomfort.

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