10 Things Every ECT Needs to Survive

Written by Dan

Last updated

Teaching can be an incredibly rewarding profession, but it can also be challenging and frustrating at times. As an Early Career Teacher (ECT), it is important to arm yourself with the tools and resources you need to survive your first years in the classroom. In this article, we will discuss 10 things that every ECT needs to make it through their early teaching career!

A Diary

One of the best pieces of advice that I can give to any early career teacher is to make sure that you get yourself a diary. When you are starting out in your teaching career, it can feel like there are a million things to remember and keep track of. From dates and deadlines to assessments and assemblies, there always seems to be something new to add to your plate.

A diary will help you to keep track of all of the different events and deadlines that you need to remember, and it can also be a great way to record any thoughts or ideas that you have about your lessons or students. If you start your teaching career without a diary, you are likely to find yourself feeling frazzled and overwhelmed before long. So make sure that you pick one up at the start of the year – it will definitely come in handy!

ECT Needs


As an early career teacher knows, timings are everything in a classroom. If you run over time on one lesson, then it’s going to impact the next lesson and so on throughout your day. The last thing you want is a bunch of lessons that have not been taught at the end of the term because you ran over time consistently.

That’s why it’s so important to get a watch when you’re starting your year. With a watch, you can keep track of how much time you have for each lesson and make sure that you don’t go over. It’s a simple way to stay organized and make sure that your lessons are running smoothly. So if you’re an early career teacher, don’t forget to pick up a watch! It will make your life a lot easier.

A support system

Being an early career teacher (ECT) can be overwhelming and stressful. You are constantly trying to learn the ropes of a new profession while at the same time being responsible for the education of young minds. It is important to remember that you are not alone in this journey. Many people are willing to support and help you along the way. Firstly, it is crucial to build a support system within your school.

This could include your mentor, colleagues, or even your students’ parents. Secondly, make sure that you have a robust support system at home. This could be your family, friends, or even a pet. Having people to talk to and lean on will make the journey much more accessible. Remember, you are not alone in this profession. Many people care about you and want to see you succeed.

Classroom management skills

Early Career Teachers (ECTs) need to ensure they have Classroom management skills when starting their year. Every year you teach, you get roughly 30 new children to help to shape into valuable members of society. Every child is different and brings with them baggage from their past experiences. This means that their behaviour and learning in the classroom might be very different from what we expect them to do.

We need to manage a classroom successfully and create a safe learning space for all children. We need to create a safe space for those that need it, a fun space for those that want it and a functional learning space for those that need to get the job done. The first step in being able to do this is finding out what your students need and want from their learning environment.

This might mean surveying them at the beginning of the year or doing some quick observations during class. Once you know what they need, you can start to put systems and structures in place to ensure everyone can access the learning in your classroom. It takes time and effort to get classroom management right, but it’s so worth it when you see its positive impact on your students’ learning.


One of the best characteristics any teacher can have is patience. Every day of your teaching life, you will be tested, pushed, and questioned by your classes. Even on a good day, this can sometimes be a nuisance as you try to fit into your busy days all the lessons you need to teach. ECTs need to make sure they have this one key personality trait if they want to succeed in their new career.

The first year is always the hardest as you try to find your groove with a new group of students. You’ll be getting to know them and their learning styles and at the same time, trying to establish rules and routines in your classroom. There will be days when everything is against you, but if you can keep your cool and maintain your sense of humour, you’ll make it through just fine.

Twinkl Membership

Early Career Teachers (ECTs) need to make sure they have a Twinkl Membership when they are starting their year. Now if you do not know about Twinkl, you will want to learn about it quickly. Twinkl is the most extensive library of resources, lessons, and plans on the internet. Now it is a subscription service that you have to pay for, but in my opinion, it is worth it.

Twinkl helps to take the stress out of quickly finding relevant worksheets and questions for arithmetic lessons or grammar sessions. Some schools will have a group membership which provides their teachers with logins, so make sure you ask!

Having a Twinkl Membership is like having your assistant who can help you find whatever you need, fast! So if you’re an ECT starting your teaching career this year, ensure you get yourself a Twinkl Membership pronto! You’ll be glad you did.


Starting your career as a teacher can be an exciting and challenging time. You’re unsure of what to expect, but you’re eager to get started and make a difference in the lives of your students. However, it’s important to remember that things will inevitably go wrong at some point during the year.

There will be days when the lesson plan doesn’t quite work out the way you’d hoped, or when you’re struggling to keep up with the workload. It’s essential to have a flexible mindset during these times so that you can adapt and make sure that your students are still meeting their learning objectives.

By being open-minded and willing to adjust your plans on the fly, you’ll be better prepared to handle whatever challenges come your way. So, if things seem to be going off the rails, don’t panic! Just take a deep breath and remember that flexibility is vital to success in the classroom.

Knowledge of your content area

As an early career teacher, it is essential to have a strong foundation of knowledge in your content area. While you may not be expected to know everything, it is essential to be familiar with the National Curriculum and teach the required content confidently.

This can be a daunting task, but plenty of resources are available to help you build your knowledge. Talk to experienced teachers, consult textbooks and online resources, and attend professional development workshops. With a little effort, you can ensure you have the necessary content knowledge to start your teaching journey on the right foot.

Good organisational skills

The organisation is key! ECTs must be prepared for anything and everything that might happen throughout the school day. From morning announcements to lunchtime activities and after-school clubs, there’s always something happening at school. That’s why ECTs need to have good organisational skills. By staying organised, ECTs can ensure they’re always on top of their game. Plus, it’ll help them to avoid any last-minute scrambling when things get busy.

As an ECT, you will need to make sure that every hour you work is helping you progress towards your QTS status!


When I started teaching, I quickly realized that pens, pencils, and other supplies were like gold dust. With budgets tight, it was difficult for schools to keep up with the demand. As a result, I got to school early and stock up on everything my class needed. While it may seem like a silly thing to worry about, having the right supplies can make a big difference in the classroom.

In addition to ensuring you have enough for your own use, it’s also important to have extras on hand in case a student forgets their supplies at home. With a bit of planning and forethought, you can ensure your classroom is always well-stocked and ready for anything.

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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