The good news is, as a first-year teacher, you won't be alone.

Not only are you surrounded by experienced teachers and mentors, but you can draw on the support of a network of new graduates from your teaching degree –people like you who followed their passion for education.

The idea of a teacher as a lone wolf is one of the enduring myths of the first year of teaching, which Dr Richard Johnson, Senior Lecturer in RMIT’s School of Education, has set out to bust.

Myth 1: You’re expected to know everything about running a classroom 

One of the biggest concerns students have before graduating is that once they take up a position in a classroom, they are in it alone. But that’s not the case.

When you enter a school for the first time, you will be given a mentor to be there for you and help answer any questions about your profession.

For all those tricky decisions, when they need to be made, you will have reference points in team leaders, colleagues and teachers next door or in the same team.

You will also have a supportive network of peers and teachers you can draw on to ask for help with the tough questions.

Myth 2: Principals are looking for grads with the highest grade point average

What matters to principals is how you operate and the energy you bring to a classroom, not your GPA.

By the time you graduate, you’ve learnt about the theory behind education and had some supervised experience in the classroom.

You’ve had feedback on your lessons from academic staff on how you taught concepts to students. Once you move into the workforce, principals want to see you putting that knowledge into practice.

Myth 3: Demonstrating understanding of graduate competencies is only important when applying for jobs

The path of a teacher is one of continual improvement, and you don’t stop learning once you graduate from university. Let the competencies create a pathway for you to build your professional practice.

Once you arrive in the classroom, you can start putting the AITSL Standards you’ve been discussing into practice. You haven’t got the position for a week or a term, so you have time to perfect your craft.

You can take your time, try new things, and reflect on what has worked.

Myth 4: You have to fit the mould of the stereotypical ‘good teacher’

Believe it or not, there is no one way to be a good teacher. When you’re in the classroom, your personality and interests will help immensely as you build relationships with staff and students.

Be yourself and don't be afraid to show your personality.

Who you are as a person will be encouraged in the school community, so it’s important to express yourself as a professional teacher and learner.

The school is not a mould, but an environment for growth. That is its most important feature – growth. Be a part of it.

Being yourself in a classroom is a key part of being a good teacher.

Myth 5: Teaching is a very demanding job with no downtime

Teaching is a profession where you are invited to commit. Enter the profession with the generosity to commit and you’ll find you have a healthy balance of professional and personal commitments.

The work is often continuous as you learn on the job, and your days may sometimes have no clear beginning or end, but refrain from measuring commitment only in terms of hours.

Any job is onerous when it is not enjoyed. If you’re passionate about making an impact in students’ lives, you won’t feel that your career is too demanding.

Myth 6: Teaching is a lonely profession

As a teacher, you are surrounded by a network of peers and support. You are not alone – the community of teaching starts with you and goes in all directions.

In your first week at a school you may be preoccupied with the narrow constraints of your job, but then it gradually unfolds.

There are no limits, and you will always have colleagues, friends, leaders, models, students, parents, partners …

You will not be alone. Teaching is not an individual pursuit – it is teamwork.

 

First published 24 February 2017.

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