How to smash your first week as an ECT

08/08/2022 | All

If you are an early career teacher (ECT) getting ready for your first week working in a school, there is no doubt that it can be just as daunting as it is exciting! You are about to start your journey into a career in education so you’ll be keen to make a great first impression and start. We’ve put together some top tips on how to smash your first week as an ECT!

What is an ECT?

If you have been training to teach over the last couple of years, you will be aware of the news that the Department of Education has made major changes to what we are used to calling a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT). The new Early Careers Framework (ECF) which is behind this change is not just a change in terminology, but is a wider shake up of the whole process of going from trainee to a fully qualified teacher. For the first time, there will be a structured two-year package of high quality professional development for every ECT, funded by the DfE. This means a more unified approach to your in-school training that aims to deliver better trained teachers and also better prepares early career teachers for the challenges that they will face.

How to smash your first week as an ECT

Ask lots of questions

It is important to remember that during your first week, or even first few months, you are going to have lots and lots of questions! You won’t be expected to know everything – so it’s important that if you’re unsure – ask! The majority of teaching staff working around you have been in your exact position at the start of their career having completed a similar induction period. Not only does this mean they are in the perfect position to provide you with good guidance, they will want to help you out. Most of what has made them the teacher they are today is what they have learned from teachers of the past. So if you’re unsure, ask!

Be confident

You’re finally an ECT! It’s guaranteed that it has taken you a lot of hard work, effort and achievement to get to where you are. Now is your time to put this to use and demonstrate it all in the classroom- so being confident from the outset is extremely important. If you’re feeling a little short of confidence in the classroom, just remember what it has taken for you to get to where you are now! This will help you to smash your first week as an ECT.

Take charge from the outset

Although you’ve most likely had a lot of experience in the classroom by now, it’s likely your first time having such a high amount of control in your classroom. It’s important that you set out your expectations for your class from the outset. Let them know your expectations for behaviour and the policies that you have in place. Also, don’t hesitate to poach behaviour management from the staff working around you! Picking up techniques from other ECTs or senior staff will help you to forge positive relationships with your students and allow you to take the most effective approaches.

Present yourself well

Giving a great first impression is so important! Students are likely to pick up very quickly on how you present yourself- so you need to give it plenty of thought. Of course, you want to appear friendly to your students as you want to build lasting relationships with them in order to nurture them throughout their education. However, being too relaxed and friendly runs the risk of having problems controlling and disciplining your students in the long term. Finding the correct balance between the two is key!

Get to know your colleagues

During your first week, it is the perfect opportunity to introduce yourself and become friendly with staff in your department. During your ECT years you are going to need plenty of support from the more experienced teaching staff around you – you never know when you’ll need a helping hand! From senior staff to support staff, introduce yourself and get to know your colleagues as much as possible.

Be flexible

As an ECT, it can be hard to recognise the need to be flexible. You’ve likely spent weeks working on your lesson plans, behaviour management techniques and classroom management. However, it’s important to understand the need for flexibility in the classroom. There are going to be times where you will need to deviate from your lesson plans – and this is ok! What works for one class or student might not work for another. Your job as a teacher is to provide students with the best education for them so factoring in a degree of flexibility can be pivotal towards enhancing learning outcomes. 

Spend time reflecting

Reflection is a skill that many find difficult to grasp, however it will be extremely important to remember to reflect during your ECT! It is completely natural that you will make mistakes during your ECT. It is how you use these mistakes that will be vital as part of your learning process as a teacher. Pencil in some time each day or week to reflect as part of your own professional development. It’s a great opportunity to think about what worked and what didn’t during you lessons and ask yourself what you are going to do differently in order to make it work better next time.

How i-teachers can help ECTs

Looking for your first role as an ECT? Maybe you’ve just completed your ECT years and now you’re looking for a permanent role in a new school? Our experienced education recruitment consultants recruit for teaching roles across England. 

We are the UKs highest rated education recruitment consultancy and our team is dedicated to making a positive difference to education through placing high quality candidates. The i-teachers approach is entirely personal – we pride ourselves on building strong relationships with our candidates and schools to ensure the best possible fit. Our dedicated education consultants provide thorough interview preparation advice to all of our candidates going for an interview for one of our teaching roles. Contact us to find out more!