The first year of teaching can feel like a roller-coaster of emotions as you navigate your way through the academic terms. For many ECTs, the first year can be ‘make or break’ as many decide whether or not to remain within the profession.
Factors associated with self-efficacy, job satisfaction and risk of attrition operate at individual, classroom and organisational levels as teachers are required to identify and support diverse learning needs in a changing work environment (Self-Efficacy, Job Satisfaction and Teacher Well-Being in the K-12 Educational System).
The introduction of the Early Career Framework in 2019 was welcomed by the teaching community as a much needed resource to support teachers in their early career development. The fully funded two-year package of structured training and support, linked to the best available research evidence, ensures new teachers have dedicated time set aside to focus on their development.
So what is it like to teach in a modern day secondary school in London? Let’s see what Shona James- Bennett has to say as she reflects on her first year of teaching:
I believe that all children should have access to high quality education. Before becoming a teacher I was made aware of the demand for science teachers and the under representation of black female scientists [in particular]. Having grown up in [a diverse] London, one of the only Black teachers I had was my science teacher. Her presence alone in the classroom, served as one of my biggest inspirations to not only become a teacher but to peruse a career in STEM.
I believe it’s important for children to see people like them in a variety of roles, but also told how to achieve their goals and feel supported.
My route into teaching was via Teach First, which has been intense but perfect for me, because I have learnt a great deal and felt supported through the large network of people with similar ideals. Teach First are aware of the racial imbalance in education and speak on issues about disadvantages in education.
To ensure my teaching practice is always to the best standard, I am regularly observed and coached by my mentor and other leaders within my school and Teach First, who provide feedback aimed at targeting and developing my practice.
My pedagogical knowledge is assessed via assignments, where I articulate and reflect on empirical academic research and able to use my local school’s community to inform my understanding of socio-economic factors and its impact on education.
One of the biggest challenges in my first year, was adapting to how demanding teaching can be, It can easily take a toll oneself. However, I look forward to continuing professionally, as I am constantly learning more. The school I work in has amazing pupils who are motivated and inspiring.
If you’d like to read more about Early Career Teaching, take a moment to read The influence of support for early career teachers on their decision to remain in the teaching profession by Hatley and Kington (May 2022) which aims to critically analyse experiences and perceptions of ECTs and the role of continued HEI support.
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