This is the eleventh part of my Reflection Series – a self-reflection of my year teaching in the UK.
In what ways were you helpful to your colleagues this year?
I like to think I was helpful to my colleagues in a number of ways over the year, but it’s always hard to tell.
I was always there to provide a sounding board and advice for the two first year teachers I was working with. One was a fellow Aussie, the other from the UK. We spent so many hours talking through our profession, comparing students encounters and giving each other ideas.
It was a great learning experience for me as well as I haven’t really had to mentor people before, but I felt like I was mentoring them. I was able to reassure them that they definitely weren’t alone in their struggles, and to celebrate their successes with them.
I made SO MANY resources. SO many. They were used by my department, and I was sometimes even thanked for making them. I really don’t mind sharing at all (I mean, you can’t really keep your resources a secret when you’re using them to teach your classes…), but it is always nice to receive something in return. Even though I was new to the UK system, I tried my best to adapt my own previous resources to suit, and I feel like I did a pretty good job.
I helped to run the science club, though to be fair Jess did most of the hard work here! We provided the younger students with a place to come and explore their love of science in peace and encouragement.
It started out a booming success, with about 40 students wanting to attend. As the year went by the numbers dwindled, until in the last few weeks we have a solid core of 3 boys who absolutely relished in the activities we provided. Many students came occasionally, but were reluctant to make a permanent commitment (quite a few had other commitments at lunch time on other days).
We were very flexible with this – we didn’t want the club to become a burden on any of the students, it was meant to be for fun after all!
I made curriculum plans for the new school year. Even though I wasn’t staying, they liked the way I ordered things and my curriculum organisational powers shone through. We were told in no uncertain terms that during the last week of school when most students are out on trips and/or sporting days, us lowly contract teachers ‘aren’t paid to stand around’ and that we would have to remain behind at school and do ‘real work’. Because, you know, supervising excursions isn’t real work…
It was a bit of a blessing for the department, as Jess and I were able to spend those days creating some of the unit plans that were put in place for this year, though I haven’t heard how successful they have been. Each year level had to have it’s own plan for each of the three sciences – biology, chemistry, and physics. It was a lot of work, and hard work at that, but it was so nice to have the time and space to work quietly to get it done.
I gave a fresh set of eyes and a logical way of thinking to help solve many problems, big and small, within our department. Sometimes all it takes is an outside view to help set things along the right path, and being new to the system meant I really did have an outside view.
I never really thought my problem solving skills were particularly spectacular, but seeing how much I was able to help my colleagues out has bolstered my confidence and encouraged me to present my ideas more often. Our brains are often so addled and pulled in so many different directions by our work that it can be difficult to see solutions, so I am very happy I was able to help – we need to support each other as much as we can in our profession, there are enough people causing and exacerbating problems for us!
About the Author:
Emily is a secondary science and math teacher in Australia. She enjoys blogging about her experiences, facilitating the ‘light bulb’ moment in her students, and drinking tea and wine. Emily is currently on maternity leave with her first child. You can read more teaching articles from Emily here, or about her life as a new mum over at Actual Mums.