Starry eyed right out of a teacher training institute.Armed with ideas of Plato,Aurobindo Ghosh,Reggio…millions of observations and’ concept web’ planning later,for many of us the bubble bursts when we walk in to our first teaching jobs.First teaching job is so much like a first love or a first relationship.They have to be good enough for you to keep believing in love,and keep doing the same right things over time,while remembering to add that spark from time to time!! The first year at teaching usually is the hardest,so i have gathered from my own experience as well as from innumerable chats that i have had with teacher friends.The first year,especially in India requires one to be trained under (for lack of better word) someone who is (a) trained (b) has had some years of experience (c) been in the organisation and has a proven track record and can be trusted with parent and school communication.For many this is a rocky phase,just as it was for me!More on that later. Let’s together look at what should guide your decision in choosing the right environment to teach.
The single most important factor that should guide the decision you take is the talk you have with the principal.A principal of the school-an anchor of the ship.Many traditional schools create a a weird hula-boo around that person-but each institution i have worked with,the principal has floated my boat! The five seven minute talk with the principal during one’s interview is extremely crucial to making a decision.He/She will be able to throw light on the ethos of the institution and will give you a general sense of whether you can fit in or not! The right institution will give you wings to fly or clip your wings while you dream to soar high! I have also seen that individuals at that stature usually are extremely humble and easy to talk to-very approachable.One must ask all questions and discuss all doubts one may have during that time,even if it silly! I was also advised to walk around the school building and see for my own self if i would make it my own! and it worked!! If you have decided that you shall take the principal as your mentor,just go for it with all your heart.Even if there are days when you feel like banging your head against the wall,remember you can do it in her office!! I certainly can 🙂
Secondly,what you feel through the entire process of hiring- i personally have had decent,rather very nice experiences during hiring with the HR team.Through out the whole process,i was extremely comfortable and excited which never put any kind of pressure on me! I looked forward to joining work.
School spaces usually have coordinators who are super beings too.In the scheme of things they become your immediate boss and report to the principal.They are usually also the head of departments and people with strong experiences to back them up.The go to people when you missed a dead line,screwed up a lesson plan,can’t understand learning objectives or have been sent an extremely rude reply by a parent! basically hand holders. They can be tough taskmasters but ensure you learn along the way. Gauge if you can fit into that kind of work culture.
The Curriculum- One needs to know the various curricula followed in our country.The difference between CBSE,ICSE,PYP,IB and know what are your strengths-or you are trained for.Only then will you be at peace .
Working with a co-teacher- Working with a co-teacher is like an arranged marriage…can’t choose your partner and have to make a relationship work,create magic for the sake of your learners.Nothing prepares one for the experience that is teaching.If one is a novice,it is always a good idea to observe,take notes and always always ask in how you can be helpful,it could even be by getting that extra print out.It certainly is not nice to talk in hushed tones and crib about one’s co teacher,for the world is small and round!
The first year of my teaching,i was put under person who was a quite a perfectionist,to the extent that nothing ever escaped her hawk’s eyes.To me that was irritating and not required.She corrected me at every step much to my chagrin…She made me run errands,forced me to make individual observations while she used her free time to connect with the rest of the staff.I was seething with anger through most of the session and could not understand why could she just not have a ‘chalta hai’ attitude, like mine. A few years down the line-i am so much like her and still not half as good as her!
The environments i chose to work in have largely shaped my love and interest in teaching,and inspired a thrill of learning and improvising everyday.Also,noteworthy has been that i have been blessed with total autonomy over the classroom,which i may draw a connection,is because of the first guiding principle-talk with the principal.
What has made you choose your current teaching environments? What is your story?