A while ago I read Joanna Malefaki’s letter to my younger teacher self and she’s just asked me to write mine (thanks Jo, great idea!) so here goes:
Congratulations! You’ve just got yourself the best career in the world, maybe not the best job just yet, but don’t worry that’s coming. Here are a few tips to get yourself ready for when that job comes around; by “ready” I mean still mentally and physically fit enough to take, and enjoy it!
1. You can’t take everyone with you
You’ve recently been told this by a colleague, and you don’t believe her, you still think “nobody gets left behind in my class”, but believe me, you cannot stay on the present simple until everyone in the class remembers that god-damn “-s” time. Remember how she said all she aimed for was a class of kids who loved English? Well, she’s right. Also soon you’ll start reading theory on Language Acquisition Order and see that it’s not going to happen until they’re ready anyway.
2. Join IATEFL and a local teachers group ASAP
I know internet is just developing (my God, you’re that old?!!) but get a network and learn from it. Also start a reflective journal, I’d love to be able to re-read it now!
3. Avoid the mood hoovers
Staffrooms, especially in secondary schools, are full of them, beware! – and remember NEVER sit in anyone’s armchair, or take a coffee mug without checking it’s communal!
4. Be yourself!
It’s tempting to tell you things like do a DELTA, or don’t wait 20 years before starting your MA, or stop smoking and cut down on the late nights, but I guess you won’t listen, I know what a stubborn moo you can be! Anyway all those errors and adventures made you who you are today, and it’s not that bad! (Although while we’re on the subject, when you change from teaching lower-secondary to post-A levels, wait just a little bit longer before throwing out all your material, remember – that dream job is just around the corner!)
Anyway, look after yourself – if only for me!
P.S. – That French guy? – It might not be just a holiday romance!