5 Mistakes to Avoid as you Begin your Teaching Career


Embarking on your NQT year can be full-on. Getting used to a new school, new colleagues, new pupils and new routines, can send your head in a spin! I didn't even have a proper place to stay for the first week of my first job as a qualified teacher! Think.. grotty hostel and you may get some idea of what my nightly 'refuge' was like after my working day was over! Luckily, that didn't last too long!

Giving 100%

In my first year of teaching, I began my NQT year laminating everything; the printer flying at 11 pm, cutting, sticking and preparing notes and resources until the early hours of the morning, most nights of the week. When Friday would come around, I would convince myself that I would take one day off at the weekend, but I always ended up traveling back to Co. Louth each Sunday night... exhausted.

With my coaching hat on nowadays, I suggest that you imagine your life as representing 100%. What percentage of your time and energy are you willing to give to your job? Relationship? Finances? Fitness? Nutrition? Spirituality? Personal development? Time for you?

I invite you to reflect...

What will you gain if you give your job 100%? What will you lose? Are you willing to sacrifice the many other important aspects of your life?

Assign percentages to areas of your life

The exact percentages dedicated to each area will vary from person to person - but life is more than just your JOB. What would an effective work-life/balance look like for you? Now, my job no longer receives 100% of my time and energy. Teaching is now roughly 55% as I develop my business and develop my self-care practices. The other areas slot in around that.

Do not neglect your hobbies

I get it! Term one can be CRAZY! Meeting your new class, writing plans, getting to know your new school and its routines and SET team... it's easy to get caught up in it all and it is all to easy to neglect your hobbies. By doing so, you have now removed an aspect of your life that brings you pleasure and enjoyment. Don’t you deserve to enjoy life and be a great teacher! A happy teacher is an effective one. Don’t your pupils deserve a happy teacher too?

By the time October rolls around, some of us will be struggling mentally. The vicious circle created by assuming that work is everything had achieved one thing only; we have lost that work/life balance that allows us to be good teachers and to be happy too. Many NQTS feel that they have no other choice to work 24/7 to keep on top of things... but they do. Firm boundaries and an intention to stick to them, will help prevent burnout in the long run.

One of my clients who is an NQT, simply began by committing to herself to leave the classroom twice a week by 4 pm and making a gym class on the way home. What small changes would work in your life?

Not Understanding Money Matters

Do you know what point on the scale you should be on? Have you scheduled in your diary when you're due to move onto the next point? Do you understand your payslip?

Gathering this information from the outset will be important for your financial wellbeing. Call payroll and your union with a list of the questions that you need answered and pop them in a folder dedicated to your finances.

Don't Take Things Too Seriously

Yes. Notes are important. Yes. The curriculum needs to be covered.... but what is the path of least resistance? From whom can you get ideas quickly? Who can give you support? Introducing what simple routine may make that sticky situation better?

Have a laugh with other staff members. Take your break times. Enjoy fun times with your pupils, friends and family as often as you can!

Believe in Yourself

You are a qualified teacher. Your initial teacher education prepared you for your new profession. Don’t forget that you bring valuable experience from your life, and perhaps a previous career, to the classroom. You are passionate about education and your pupils and this will be a great asset.

For years, I questioned myself. I wondered if I was good enough. I questioned if I was doing the right thing. I compared myself to others (It's hard not to, right?!) Now I know that I offer experience from a wide variety of schools, I've traveled, and I've even floated on a boat in the Amazon. I offer a different perspective, different experiences and expertise than others do. I trust that I'm doing my best for my pupils.

"Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent"

-Elenor Roosevelt.

Don’t be your harshest critic. It will not do you any good to compare yourself with a colleague, a parent, your neighbour, the girl next to you in the gym or school management. If things go wrong, figure out the best way to deal with the situation and don’t be too self-critical.

Practice assertiveness skills

Remind yourself daily of the positive aspects about yourself, reflect on your experiences and take action on things you need to improve and take action to improve things but remember your worth!

If a problem should arise…

Run-ins with parents are an inevitable part of the job at some stage of your career. If you receive a complaint, you should be prepared in advance. It is a good idea to go through potential scenarios in your head and see how you would best handle the given situation. This will help you to face a real issue in a clear, calm and confident way.

Do you speak your truth in a way that allows your needs and thoughts to be heard? If you learn to communicate effectively, you can prevent a problem from escalating and prevent the occurrence of preventable issues.

I'm not afraid to say but I've been crushed in the past by situations with parents and I've found that the key thing is to learn from them. Put strategies in place so that you can protect yourself and be the best and happiest teacher that you can be.

Start your teaching career as you mean to go on!

Here are some resources to help you begin your Teaching Career:

Learn how coaching can help you get to the bottom of the demands on your time. My Voxer Coaching services can be an amazing support to help set you up for success. Learn more about it here.



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