Teaching: The first week


“Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.” 
― Aristotle

“It would seem that you have no useful skill or talent whatsoever,” he said. “Have you thought of going into teaching?” 
― Terry Pratchett

My first two weeks as a ‘proper’ teacher have pretty much been spent with my mental state bouncing between these two quotes. I’ll teach a lesson that goes really well, and feel on top of the world, love my job. But an hour later I’ll feel like I have no idea what I’m doing, that I’m failing my students and wonder why I ever thought I could succeed as a teacher. 

On reflection, I think (hope) part of this is down to lack of experience, particularly in finding methods that work consistently with the majority of students. This, coupled with the shock of teaching back to back lessons all day every day, means that by the end of the afternoon I am often lacking in the mental capacity to walk and talk at the same time, let alone teach a Year 9 class about classical music. Teaching, I’ve learnt, is all about stamina. As an experienced colleague pointed out to me in the staffroom, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint – have a cup of tea and sit down for five minutes.” This is the adage I’m trying to bear in mind as I end my second week of teaching. There’s no point staying up all night planning super extravagant lessons if you then don’t have the energy to teach the lesson or explain the concept coherently.

On this weary Thursday afternoon as I contemplate an entire weekend of lesson planning, I am leaning more towards the Terry Pratchett end of the scale. I’ve been assured it will get easier. Fingers crossed.



3 responses »

  1. Hang in there. It does get easier! First year is def. hardest! Teaching back to back all day is HARD! Yes, don’t feel badly about taking breathers. You need that! Take one day at a time. My first year, I was ever only 1 lesson ahead! You aren’t failing your kids – they will be just fine!

      • This is my 13th year! When I was subbing, an English teacher once told me that it takes about 7 years to feel like you know what you are doing! It’s probably about right! lol It’s a huge learning curve, but if you are committed, you will get better and better and better! Yes, 4 days til the weekend, 39 weeks til summer! 🙂

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