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How to Plan for your First Term as an Early Career Teacher

About 7 months ago By Alex Schulte

How to Plan for your First Term as an Early Career Teacher

Your ECT induction period is your chance to get to grips with the world of teaching. You have two whole years to try new things, take risks, make mistakes, and figure out the kind of teacher you want to be.

Two years sounds like a long time, but they will go by in a flash. Before you start your ECT induction, you should take some time to prepare to get the most out of it from the get-go.

There’s a lot that will feel out of your control when you first start as an ECT. You’ll be responsible for educating a whole class, with all the potential pitfalls that brings with it. You’ll have to learn how to prioritise tasks and keep multiple plates spinning at once.

But given that, between 2009 and 2019, only 136 teachers out of over 300,000 did not pass their induction period, the chances are that you will do just fine.

If you pair your natural enthusiasm for education with an organised approach, you’ll be set for success. These tips should see you through your first term as an ECT.

1. Get yourself an ECT Planner

Your life as an Early Career Teacher will be dominated by dates and meetings. As well as your timetabled lessons, you’ll have to attend regular check-ins with both your ECT tutor and mentor, progress reviews, parents’ evenings and lesson observations.

Whether you rely on a smartphone calendar or prefer an old-school diary, you need to get some form of daily, weekly, and monthly organiser to plot out all these demands on your time. Missing any of these appointments won’t be well-received, so you’ll thank yourself for any structured planning you can do.

2. Build in set times with your mentor

The presence of a dedicated mentor figure for each ECT is one of the most significant additions to the DfE’s new Early Career Framework. Your mentor will be qualified teacher who you can turn to for advice, informal counsel and constructive criticism.

You are entitled to weekly meetings with your mentor. You should schedule these in as soon as possible. In your first meeting you should establish what format the meetings will take, so you know how to prepare for them properly.

Your mentor will be an instrumental in making you a better teacher. Don’t be reticent about taking advantage of their time and experience

3. Address your training and development needs straight away

The school year can quickly swallow up time for everyone once it gets under way, including your mentor, so if you’d like them to arrange for shadowing and observations with other teachers for you, tell them at the start so they too have time to plan. Tell them what your interest areas are, and they can seek out the best person to match you with.

On top of Planning, Preparation and Assessment (PPA) time, ECTs are also entitled to take an extra reduction in their scheduled timetables for additional development opportunities – 10% in your first year and 5% in your second year.

4. Look up your CPD options

Your ECT induction period is all about developing your skills and your understanding of pedagogy, and you’ll have a raft of training and learning resources available to you.

If you got your job through Protocol Education, you’ll have access to a large range of CPD-accredited training courses. Your school will also be able to direct you towards even more organisations that can offer you CPD training, so make sure you find out what’s available and soak it all up. 

5. Have a back-up plan

We hate to tell you, but at some point in that first term, you are going to deliver a lesson that doesn’t work out how you planned. One of those moments when you have lost the class, there’s no way back, and there are still another thirty minutes on the clock.

Well, this is where you need to always have a ‘here’s one I prepared earlier’ lesson plan in your back pocket. Something that gives you the breathing space you need to re-assess what you’re going to do next. Remember – once you’ve used your back-up plan, it’s time to use your ECT PPA time to plan another one for next time…because yes, there will be a next time.

6. Go easy on yourself

These two years are all about learning, and you can’t learn without making mistakes. Go easy on yourself when something goes wrong, and just remember what was awful today, will be a funny survival story to tell next year’s ECT cohort when they’re having their own Monday morning horrorshow.   

Protocol Education can help you thrive

As one of the UK’s leading educational recruitment specialists, we help thousands of ECTs flourish in their first teaching jobs every year.

If you haven’t yet secured your placement, our ECT Pool will take the stress out of your job search and find you a starter position you’ll love.

Our consultants are also on hand to provide guidance and advice throughout your first two years on the job. All you need to do is get in touch.

You’ve got this – happy teaching! 

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