We know that training to teach can be a little scary.
At Ark Teacher Training, we understand that there are lots of little things that worry our trainees about entering the classroom. That’s why our team of experienced tutors, coaches and subject specialists work with our trainee teachers, supporting them every step of the way in their new career.
We asked some of our tutors to tell us what frightens new teachers the most, to share their own unnerving experiences and to give us some tricks to make sure you can be a treat in the classroom.
Blood-curdling behaviour issues!
Ryan: We often hear from new teacher trainees that they are afraid of how they’re going to manage the behaviour of children in the classroom.
Claire: It’s not that you’re afraid of the behaviour itself – what most new teachers are actually afraid of is what will happen if you try to exercise your authority in the classroom and the kids don’t listen to you. So the fear is that you’re going to be bad at classroom management.
Jo: This is the most overrated fear about becoming a teacher, because it really is possible to learn how to manage a classroom – the techniques are there and they are learnable. At Ark Teacher Training, we do sessions where we show the trainees a teacher who has “it” – that supposedly indefinable quality that commands students’ attention and makes them behave. But then we break down every aspect of “it” step by step for our trainees: the tone of your voice, your language, even where you stand in the room.
Ryan: It’s definitely overrated as a fear because the kids want to do the right thing. If you’ve got high expectations of how your class should behave, they will rise to the challenge. If you don’t have high expectations, then you won’t succeed and that’s true for both behaviour as well as for academic achievement.
Claire: When I first became a teacher, the thing that scared me the most were those moments when you had difficult interactions with parents. Most of the parents are amazing, but you do sometimes have pushy parents. You have to learn to manage their expectations.
Naomi: You just have to be pleasant and try your best to be helpful.
Jo: The best thing you can say to a parent is to tell them something great about their kids. It’s usually true.
Loathsome lesson observations!
Ryan: You often hear from trainees that lesson observations make them nervous. They’re worried that their lesson isn’t going to go as planned and that the observer is judging them negatively for their every move.
Naomi: If you’re the type of person who plans your lessons really carefully – so that nothing can go wrong – then it always does seem to go wrong when you’re being observed!
Jo: I used to have a lucky dress, that I would wear when I knew I was going to be observed. It made me feel better.
Naomi: What we say to the trainees is that lesson observations aren’t meant to be intimidating. They’re part of your professional development. It’s a way to help you develop your skills and we’re here, doing these observations to support you, not to criticise you. And we also say that these observations happen pretty often, so you might as well get used to them!
Creepy class trips!
Claire: Class trips are actually pretty frightening. You are always worried about losing a child, especially when you have to travel on the Underground. (I haven’t lost one yet!)
Naomi: The dinosaur trail in the Natural History Museum is really exciting, but some of the smaller children actually get quite upset when they get to the T-Rex exhibit. That’s scary for them!
Claire: You feel much more like a parent than a teacher when you’re on a school trip. You feel very responsible and you know that everyone is watching your students and how they behave. But sometimes people come up to you and tell you how lovely the children are behaving and that always makes you feel very proud!
Jo: The best way to conquer your worries about a school trip, as a teacher, is to be really organised and to practice. We do trip rehearsals all the time. School trips can be scary, but practicing helps make it all go smoothly.
Questions of doom!
Ryan: One of the things that can be nerve-wracking is the fear you sometimes feel, being in the year group that is learning about sex education. It’s not the topic – the curriculum is really clear – you’re scared of the questions that the children might ask.
Jo: It’s a lot of responsibility and children can ask very challenging and frank questions - you don’t want to say the wrong thing.
Claire: I had to do sex education when I was pregnant that led to some interesting questions...! If you have any doubts, the way around them is to run those sessions along with someone who has more experience. Among other things, you learn that you can’t answer every question and that there are certain phrases you can learn and rehearse, that will help you if you have to deflect a question.
Ryan: Like “Maybe you want to ask your mum and dad about that…”
Jo: “That would be a personal issue.”
Claire: I like to say “that’s a good question but we’re not focusing on that today. Today we’re focusing on….” Another thing you can do is get the children to write out their questions on paper and then you can sort through them and pick only the appropriate ones.
The ultimate terror!
Claire: Overall, learning to become a teacher isn’t really scary. You learn techniques for everything that might come up.
Naomi: The only thing where I have no strategy for dealing with it at all is when children are sick on the bus on a school trip. Thankfully it doesn’t happen that often!
Jo: People training to teach are doing so because they really want to make a difference. I think the thing that they’re really scared of is somehow letting the children down. They want so much to do a good job, and we’re here to train them to make sure they can do it.
Faced your fears and want to know more about Ark Teacher Training? Applications for September 2019 open now.