Top 5 Areas to Focus on as an ECT

Written by Dan

Last updated

If you are an Early Career Teacher (ECT), then congratulations! You have chosen one of the most rewarding and challenging careers in education. There are many things to focus on as an ECT, but we have compiled a list of the top 5 areas that we believe will make the most significant impact on your career. Keep reading to learn more!

Focus Areas for an Early Career Teacher:

Know When Good is Good Enough

Accepting that good is good enough is one of the essential things an ECT must do in their first year of teaching. It is normal to feel overwhelmed and to want to strive for perfection, but it is essential to remember that this is not always possible.

There will be times when things do not go according to plan, or students do not behave as expected – but this is okay. As long as the ECT is putting in their best effort and ensuring that students are learning, they are doing a good job.

Some lessons you will want to be perfect. Of course, observations by senior management or your mentor will have more of a focus than your regular everyday lessons, and that is okay. If you strive for perfection in every class, it will only lead to burnout.

Get Ahead

An ECT will find their first year hard, but there are ways to get ahead and take some of the stress out of a job. Firstly, organising and planning are essential. This includes planning for each lesson and the entire term or school year.

Having a plan in place will help keep you on track and ensure you are covering all of the required material. Secondly, it is crucial to assess your students’ progress often. This can be done through formal assessments and observations and conversations with students.

Checking in on students’ progress regularly will help you identify areas that need more attention and adjust your teaching accordingly. Remember that to plan appropriately for our class, we need first to have some form of assessment on which to base our planning. An accurate estimate will shape where you go with your lessons.

Assessment will identify the gaps that are there in your class’s knowledge, and this will help you to plan then how to fill the gaps. Getting your inspection done as quickly as possible will allow you to fill gaps as early as the year.

Rely on Your Peers

Asking for help when you need it is a must for ECTs. You need to find out if you do not know how to do something. Whether it is with planning, assessment, timetables, break time, behaviour management, etc. If you do not feel comfortable in an area, it will come back to bite you if you do not truly understand it.

The first year of teaching is often the most challenging, as new teachers must learn how to manage a classroom, develop lesson plans, and navigate the educational bureaucracy. While some new teachers can overcome these challenges independently, many find it helpful to participate in a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program.

CPD programs offer new teachers the opportunity to receive ongoing support and guidance from experienced educators. In addition, CPD programs provide a forum for new teachers to share their challenges and triumphs with their peers.

By participating in a CPD program, new teachers can gain the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in the classroom. CPD programs can also help new teachers build a professional network that will support them throughout their careers.

Conquer Behaviour Management

When it comes to conquering behaviour management strategies, it is essential for ECTs to make sure that they are their priority. This will allow them to maximise teaching time in the classroom and maximise a more positive learning environment for their students. Some tips on how to do this include:

1. Establishing rules and expectations at the beginning of the school year and ensuring that all students are aware of them.

2. Consistently enforce the rules by using positive reinforcement when students follow them and consequences (including verbal warnings, time-outs, and removal from class) when they don’t.

3. Creating a calm and positive learning environment in which good behaviour is praised and rewarded.

4. Being patient and understanding but also firm when necessary. It’s important to remember that most students want to behave well but may need some guidance and support.

If ECTs can follow these tips, they will be well on their way to establishing positive behaviour management strategies in their classroom and creating a more productive learning environment for their students.

Time Keeping

An Early Career Teacher (ECT) is going to find their first year of teaching a lot harder if they do not keep to a strict timetable. They need to ensure that lessons take the amount of time they have been allocated on the timetable. Otherwise, you end up skipping lessons and pushing other bits back.

I have done this countless times over my career. You let Maths or English overrun, and inevitably a subject (that is not quite as important) like music or French slip out of your timetable for that day. Before you know it, three weeks have gone by and you have not taught a single music lesson.

ECTs also need to be organised to ensure they complete all of the administrative tasks that come with the role. This includes creating and following a lesson plan, marking and providing student feedback, and attending staff meetings.

The best way to stay on top of everything is to create a schedule and stick to it! This will help you stay organized and ensure that you are completing tasks properly.

If you are an Early Careers Teacher, it is essential to focus on behaviour management, timekeeping and organisation. These are all essential skills you need to master to be successful in the classroom. While it may be challenging at times, participation in a CPD program can provide you with the support and guidance you need to be successful. By following these tips, you will be well on your way to becoming an effective and successful Early Career Teacher.

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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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