There are plenty of things that can worry a trainee before they enter a classroom. That’s why we’re passionate about providing the best support for our trainees. From experienced tutors to subject specialists, Ark Teacher Training supports trainees in every step of their new careers.
To help any budding future trainees quash their fears, we’ve asked some of our exceptional tutors past and present to tell us what worries new teachers the most and to share their top tips to help you succeed in the classroom.
Teacher Trainee Worry #1: Behaviour issues
A rowdy classroom can be a daunting thought and is actually one of the most common teacher trainee worries. We often hear that our new trainees are afraid of how they’re going to manage children’s behaviour in the classroom.
“The kids want to do the right thing. If you’ve got high expectations of how your class should behave, they will rise to the challenge.”
Claire: It’s not that you’re afraid of the behaviour itself. What most new teachers are actually afraid of is what will happen if you try to exercise your authority in the classroom and the kids don’t listen to you. So the fear is actually that you’re going to be bad at classroom management.
Jo: It really is possible to learn how to manage a classroom. The techniques are there and they are learnable. At Ark Teacher Training, we do sessions where we show the trainees a teacher who has “it” – that supposedly indefinable quality that commands students’ attention and makes them behave. Then we break down every aspect of “it,” step by step for our trainees: the tone of your voice, your language, even where you stand in the room.
Ryan: We often hear from new teacher trainees that they are afraid of how they’re going to manage children’s behaviour in the classroom. The kids want to do the right thing. If you’ve got high expectations of how your class should behave, they will rise to the challenge.”
Teacher Trainee Worry #2: Managing relationships with parents
Nobody wants to be the bearer of bad news, especially when talking about someone’s child, but there are some tips for smoothing over those tougher conversations:
Claire: When I first became a teacher, the thing that scared me the most were those moments when you had difficult interactions with parents. You have to learn to manage their expectations. Most parents are amazing, but you sometimes encounter some difficult conversations, but you learn to manage their expectations.
Naomi: You just have to be pleasant and try your best to be helpful!
Teacher Trainee Worry #3: Lesson observations
It’s always tough to perform when people are watching, so it’s natural to be worried about lesson observations. No matter how hard you try, sometimes things just go awry – and that’s okay! We’ve got some words of wisdom for you:
“Lesson observations are a way to help you develop your skills and we’re here to support you, not criticise you!”
Ryan: You often hear from trainees that lesson observations make them nervous. They’re worried that their lesson isn’t going to go as planned and that the observer is judging their every move.
Naomi: Even if you’re the type of person who plans lessons really carefully so that nothing can go wrong, it always seems to go wrong when you’re being observed!
Jo: I used to have a lucky dress that I would wear when I knew I was going to be observed. It made me feel better.
Naomi: What we say to trainees is that lesson observations aren’t meant to be intimidating. They’re part of your professional development. It’s a way to help you develop your skills and we’re doing these observations to support you, not to criticise you!
Teacher Trainee Worry #4: Class trips
Trips outside the classroom are an exciting time – but also pretty nerve-wracking! Counting heads and keeping track of lunch boxes are just the start of the responsibilities you feel as a teacher on a class trip. But practice makes perfect, and you’ll be getting plenty of practice with Ark Teacher Training.
“The best way to conquer your worries about a school trip is to be organised and to practice.”
Naomi: The dinosaur trail in the Natural History Museum is really exciting, but some of the smaller children actually get quite upset when they get to the T-Rex exhibit. That’s scary for them!
Claire: You feel much more like a parent than a teacher when you’re on a school trip. You feel very responsible, and you know that everyone is watching your students and how they behave. But sometimes people come up to you and tell you how lovely the children are behaving and that always makes you feel very proud!
Jo: The best way to conquer your worries about a school trip is to be organised and to practice. We do trip rehearsals all the time. School trips can be scary, but practising helps make it all go smoothly.
Teacher Trainee Worry #5: Unexpected questions
Anyone that works with children can tell you they’re incredibly candid and curious! And with all that frank curiosity can sometimes come some unexpected questions that you’re not sure how to deal with.
“You learn that you can’t answer every question and that there are certain phrases you can learn and rehearse that will help you if you have to deflect a question.”
Ryan: One of the things that can be nerve-wracking is the fear you sometimes feel being in the year group that is learning about sex education. It’s not the topic – the curriculum is really clear – you’re scared of the questions that the children might ask.
Jo: It’s a lot of responsibility and children can ask very challenging and frank questions – you don’t want to say the wrong thing.
Claire: I had to do sex education when I was pregnant that led to some interesting questions! If you have any doubts, the way around them is to run those sessions with someone who has more experience. Among other things, you learn that you can’t answer every question and that there are certain phrases you can learn and rehearse that will help you if you have to deflect a question.
Ryan: Like “Maybe you want to ask your mum and dad about that…”
Jo: I go with, “That would be a personal issue.”
Claire: I like to say, “That’s a good question but we’re not focusing on that today. Today we’re focusing on….” Another thing you can do is get the children to write out their questions on paper and then you can sort through them and pick only the appropriate ones.
The ultimate worry…
Claire: Overall, learning to become a teacher isn’t really scary. You learn techniques for everything that might come up.
Naomi: The only thing where I have no strategy for dealing with at all is when children are sick on the bus on a school trip. Thankfully it doesn’t happen that often!
Jo: People training to teach are doing so because they really want to make a difference. I think the thing that they’re scared of is somehow letting the children down. Trainees want so much to do a good job, and we’re here to train them to make sure they can do it!