What would you tell your early career self? Blog

March 2023

Starting out teaching can be overwhelming. We asked experienced teachers, many years into their careers, to reflect back on the time when they were starting out. What is the key piece of advice they would now tell their early career self?

“Teaching is a marathon not a sprint race. The first few years of teaching are the most challenging so be kind to yourself and don’t expect to get everything right. It gets easier!”
Brad McAllister, Principal, John Therry Catholic College and ACHPER NSW President.

“Give yourself permission to take the time to grow. You don’t need to be the best straight away. Allow yourself to feel challenged and to grow in the challenges. Surround yourself with support – organisations and colleagues. A FAIL is only a First Attempt In Learning. not the end game!”
Veronica Brogden, Leader of Learning, CathWest Innovation College

Veronica Brogden

“My first piece of advice is ensure you use your support networks whether they are your colleagues, family or friends as teaching is a rollercoaster. Secondly, set yourself ‘achievement lists’ to help with prioritising tasks, and thirdly don’t bite off more than you can chew – be part of initiatives that you honestly value and see growth from.”
Karen Halwagy, PDHPE Teacher and Year 9 Advisor, East Hills Girls Technology High School

“Find a good mentor. Someone who is experienced and a good practitioner who can assist you navigate your early years of teaching. There is so much to learn about your craft, dealing with parents, admin requirements etc, and someone who can guide and support you in this space is incredibly valuable.”
Luke Adams, Director of Studies 7 – 12, St Phillip’s Christian College, Cessnock and ACHPER NSW Board Member

Amy Harriman

“You can’t put an old head on young shoulders, so enjoy the learning journey and the personal growth that comes with reflection of practice. Teaching is a practice after all – and it’s our responsibility to keep growing and learning.”
Amy Harriman, Deputy Principal, The Hills Sports High School

“Find your tribe who you can go to for support/guidance/vent, this might not always be people in your faculty. You don’t know what you don’t know so ask questions, people will be happy to help and support you if they know you need it. Don’t be afraid to say YES, if someone asks you to get involved/trying something different they see potential in you, you don’t know what opportunities are just beyond your comfort zone.”
Clare Roden,  Professional Learning Support, ACHPER NSW

Clare Roden

“My piece of advice would be to take the time to build relationships with all comers in all aspects of my work.”
Brendan Jones, Capability Building Advisor, Teaching Quality and Impact Directorate, NSW Department of Education

“I would tell my early career self that it’s OK to not always get it right and to see each thing that doesn’t work out as I hoped as a learning experience. Being able to model this to students is also really important to show that we need to be kind to ourselves and to help them realise that we are always learning and looking to improve.”
Kim Harper, Deputy Principal Student Wellbeing Initiatives, Student Support and Specialist Programs

Kim Harper
Janice Atkin

“Don’t think you have to be the expert at the front of the class. Let go of the reins and let students take control of their own and others’ learning!”
Janice Atkin, Professional Learning Officer, ACHPER NSW

The ACHPER NSW Early Career Teacher Conference will be held 19 May 2023 in Sydney.

Designed for PDHPE teachers in their first three years of teaching, the conference features experienced teachers and experts sharing practical advice to help new teachers thrive. Learn more

Scroll to Top