It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been teaching, you can’t help but feel a frisson of nerves, or tension, or anticipation at the start of each year.
Maybe you’re in a new role, or teaching some new content, but more likely, and most often, it’s the thinking about meeting your new class and planning to get that beginning going well and those interactions commencing on the right foot.
The advice I got in my first year of teaching, from a grizzled old salt from the History Department? ‘Don’t smile until Easter’. Talk tough. Start firm and relax later if you can.
But I’m not talking to discipline and behaviour. I’m talking about the anticipation around this particular group of students and how you’re going to create that learning culture that works. The students: Who are they? What do they hope for? How are you going to get to know them at the same time as you know you’ve got some key content and skills that they need to develop. I sometimes wonder if we over-estimate out importance; that maybe we think too much about it, or try too hard, plan too much for what will come. But, I don’t like to think like that. And I’m not getting all blasé about ‘just another year’ and all that. This year matters, for them, and me.
And I plan to smile before Easter.
Above: Flowering gum (symbol of hope!) Photo: Warrick