I have been teaching at my new school for just over a week now, although it seems much longer. Starting at a new school is always hard work, but starting in a new country is a whole other kettle of fish!
I was expected to teach the very first two lessons of the day, no induction, no information about the behaviour management system, little idea of what to do… and it was a group of year 11s! I did have a class list, although it wasn’t completely accurate! However the novelty of a new teacher from Australia helped me out considerably! We did the predictable, but remarkably useful ‘write me a letter telling me about yourself’, which proved to be very interesting reading, and does help one to get to know the students a little quicker!
Thankfully, the English faculty is brilliant. There are about 10 of them, mostly female, and mostly young. Several are recent graduates. I am finding the heads of faculty really supportive, making sure I have everything I need, and checking regularly that I am coping. The staff are enthusiastic and clearly care about what they are doing, which is a relief, because that is what my staff at home are like! They regularly share what they are doing, so break and lunchtime converstations are always worth listening to (in addition, there are many comments about the most recent episode of Hollyoaks, the one English soapy I think I could become addicted to, and what happened last night on Celebrity Big Brother…).
Each year level is doing exactly the same topic or text at the same time, which is something I am not used to. For example, all the Year 7s are doing ‘What Makes a Story’, a unit on genre; the Year 9s are preparing for the dreaded SATS (more on them later), studying Much Ado about Nothing; the Year 10s are doing a unit on war poetry, with the focus on imaginative and personal writing responses; and the Year 11s are studying pre-20th Century horror stories. However everyone has a slightly different approach, depending upon the nature of their students and their own personal style. The advantage is that the professional conversations we have at break are so much more efficient; we are all teaching the same texts, so we can immediately use each other’s ideas. For me, as a completely new teacher to the curriculum, it is very handy!
After a week and a half, I think I can say that I will enjoy my year here, and will even have some fanastic ideas to take home with me!