What Can You Expect During Your First Year As a Teacher?
The first year at school for a new teacher, especially a fresher just out of the Teacher's Training Institute, can be a challenging and demanding time. It is considered the most difficult in the life of a young teaching professional, and the outcome of it may determine how dedicated he or she will be to the profession.
Based upon the phases of the first year of teaching, support programs may be organized for new teachers to help them with time and classroom management, syllabus completion and the making of teaching aids like charts, drawings, models, etc.
Phases of First Year Teaching
It is generally the fresh teaching graduates that go through the difficult first year. Most of the support programs are organized with them in mind. A teacher with even a few years of experience already has an idea of what to expect, what is expected of them and also a fairly good exposure to student and time management which the new teacher struggles with. The phases of first year teaching are:
- Anticipation Phase
- Survival Phase
- Disillusionment Phase
1. Anticipation Phase:
A new teacher looks forward to starting a career; the first job among all that is to follow in the years to come. It is a phase full of excitement, dreams, and hopes of romanticizing the role of what a teacher should be. Most often the teacher goes through this phase for only a week, which leads to the following phase which brings them down to earth from the pedestal they have created for an idealistic teacher.
2. Survival Phase:
This phase is one of harsh and brutal reality. Fresh teachers are not aware of the relevance of their position. To begin with, they have to take over a class independently. This means they become an authoritative figure for an entire set of children and represent the class at the school board and at PTA meets. The responsibility set before them most often is not what they expected to face immediately. Many a times, new teachers are caught off guard by the amount of workload presented to them. The survival phase generally goes on for 6-8 weeks and is always remembered as one of chaos, confusion and the survival of the fittest.
3. Disillusionment Phase:
All that glitters is not gold ... and neither is the teaching profession. Such is the thought of a teacher who has reached break point and goes through a self career test. Nonstop work, prolonged weeks of stress, and the reality that this is probably what one would be doing for the rest of his or her career as a teacher can take its toll on this young professional. This phase can go on for weeks and months till a semester or term break intervenes, like the winter break.
Some of the factors that contribute to the stress of this phase are:
- Excessive workload
- Inability to organize work efficiently
- Inability to effectively manage time for syllabi
- Lack of understanding children enough and being prudent in times of correction and using the right method of teaching a subject
- The shock of having to report to parents who especially seem to have better ideas of how to handle the class or a particular subject
- Admitting that he or she finds something difficult to understand and holds on to it for fear that others will have a negative opinion if question is raised
- Peer pressure
- Family pressure due to insufficient time spent with family on account of excessive work load and inability to organize it
- Going through a year's syllabus for the first time
This is the toughest phase a new teacher goes through in the entire career, and is expressed in the form of low self esteem, self-doubt and lack of enthusiasm towards the teaching profession.
4. Rejuvenation Phase:
This phase is one of optimism. The winter or term break that sets in gives the teacher some time to breathe easy, reorganize work strategies and refocus on career objectives as a teacher. A 10-14 day break is enough to make a new teacher bounce back with vigor and confidence. This post-rest phase also gives teachers time to think of the various teaching methods taught to them and organize various teaching aids for the respective topics. Planning is half the work and by the time the teacher is back after the term break, he or she is better prepared for whatever is ahead.
During this phase that lasts from mid year to scholastic year end, a new teacher is able to focus better on the class, on each student, work on a weak child and also foresee the final test session. The latter part of this phase is once again that of anticipation as the teacher wonders how her (his)class will perform, whether the entire syllabus has been covered properly and whether her (his) position will be secure should the students perform poorly.
5. Reflection Phase:
The end of the scholastic year brings in a time of reflecting upon events and scenes from the first year of teaching. The first year is one that will be remembered forever in the life of a teacher and will determine how dedicated a professional he or she will turn out to be. The Lesson Planner and Record of Work for the completed year outline the different sessions of teaching, focusing on teaching aids and results. A study and reflection upon these helps a teacher prepare mentally in advance for the following year based on this feedback of positive and negative strengths.
The start of the second year is when a teacher truly brings out the unique teaching spirit with varying ideas of creativity and a more realistic, experienced outlook to teaching.