Personal perspectives

Why is your second year of teaching better?

Five minutes
Amelia Searle Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018

As a student, I always nervously anticipated the start of the new school year.

What would my teachers be like? Would I like my subjects? What would have changed from the year before?

Well, it turns out that this feeling is only magnified when you are a teacher.

Last year I was really nervous about starting my teaching career. I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know what to teach, and I felt as though I didn’t have any idea of how to be a teacher. I still remember the first day of last year really vividly. Although I only was teaching in the afternoon, I got to school at the start of the day and spent the morning frantically photocopying, changing my “Welcome to Year 7 English with Miss Searle” PowerPoint multiple times, and trying to figure out how to write neatly on the whiteboard.

I taught two Year 7 English classes. I remember my first class greeting me with wide eyed wonder, desperate for an adult to help them survive the tumultuous first day of high school. I was also looking for an adult to help me survive my first day back in high school, but that adult was me!

The start of this year wasn’t too different. The biggest change was that I had gone from teaching solely at our junior campus, to teaching at our senior campus – a new desk, new classrooms, and a whole school of students who I had never met before. But there were lots of similarities too. Again, I was only teaching in the afternoon of that day, and this year I got to school a little bit later. I’d already made my “Welcome to Year 11 English with Miss Searle” PowerPoint, and only had to photocopy a few things.

It was a different kind of anticipation at the start of this year. By the end of Term 4, you build such strong relationships with your students and it was strange to think that I’d be starting from scratch with 100 new people this year. I greeted my colleagues and set up my classroom. This year, I felt more confident in opening the door, but that confidence diminished somewhat when I was faced with a pack of 16 and 17 year olds!

What would they be like? Would they like me? Would I like them?


Well, we are nearing the end of the year now and it has been completely different from last year. Although I wouldn’t trade the memories from last year for the world, I also wouldn’t go back to that time for any amount of money either! My first term was filled with mistake after mistake, oodles of behaviour problems and organisational catastrophes at every point. In contrast, this year has been smooth, relaxing, and fun. 

So, what is it that has made my second year so much easier?

For one thing, it isn’t the fact that I know the students at my school well. My school has a split site campus, with Year 7-9 students being taught at one place, and Year 10-12 students being taught at another. Although last year I taught Year 7 and 8 students, this year I am teaching Year 10s and 11s, meaning that not only have I had to shift campuses, but I also don’t see any of my former students on a day to day basis.

Firstly, my year has been made easier by the fact that everything now comes more naturally to me. A behaviour issue? I know where to send that. Photocopier problems? I can fix those (sometimes). A query about an assessment policy? Maybe I can help. Last year was constantly filled with questions and confusions, but this year has been filled with a lot more answers.

Secondly, everything is much faster. I can make resources much quicker, and I know lots of tips and tricks to save time. I know what needs a lot of time spent on it and what doesn’t, and I know what needs to be organised to make my week run smoothly. I’m less inclined to try to reinvent the wheel and I’m more confident in collaborating with colleagues, reducing everyone’s workload.

That’s not to say that this year has been a complete breeze. It’s been a huge adjustment teaching older students, not only because of the resources I created last year are useless in my current context, but also because teaching senior students is a completely different ball game from teaching junior students. A table group reward system doesn’t work as well with 17 year olds!

However, I have found teaching Year 10s and 11s incredibly rewarding. They’re (usually!) much more mature than their younger counterparts, which leads to really interesting conversations about their lives and the world around them. My students are at a really exciting stage in their lives, and watching them grow and change every day as they learn more about themselves is an experience I wouldn’t change for the world.

It’s also been really special meeting Cohort 2018 at the Inter Cohort Week and various social events. It’s wonderful to hear their stories, and also a really interesting reflection of how far all of us in Cohort 2017 have come since this time last year. We’ve formed a social netball team which is equal parts enthusiastic and unsuccessful, and we’ve also had many more social events this year, including book clubs, dinners, and social drinks. For Cohort 2017, we can see that the end of Deakin, and our time as TFA Associates, is in sight.

While last year it took terms before I felt as though I was thriving and not just surviving every day, this year the adjustment has not been as hard. This year I’ve been able to focus on how much I love my job, and how privileged I feel to work with such fantastic young adults every day. I’ve been able to work on becoming a better teacher, rather than just trying to get through the day as unscathed as possible.

I feel as though I can keep my head above water, and it feels good.

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