Welcome to the teaching profession. You have taken the decision to begin your journey as a teacher and, as such, to start a career working with children and young people that you will soon come to realise is truly the most fulfilling, demanding and exciting job you could have chosen.
I became a teacher when I was 21 and, apart from taking a career break to look after our two daughters when they were small, I have been a teacher ever since. Looking back over this long career, I can honestly tell you that my life has been enriched. I have worked in secondary and primary schools as well as becoming an adviser and then leading a failing school to sustained success. I engaged in research with several universities and have published books. The stories from my career that mean the most to me, however, are those that include children, families and colleagues.
As a teacher, you will have a great deal of influence. You become a role model as soon as you assume the title of teacher. Children in your class may go home and proudly quote you at the end of the day. Parents will ask your advice, colleagues will be keen to work alongside you and ask for your input, and your first assembly with hundreds of eyes upon you as you speak for the first time or present something with your class will feel like a West End stage experience. Your first parents’ evening will be something that you are not yet ‘grown-up’ enough to lead and yet you will. Parents, colleagues and children will thank you for the difference you are making and you will begin to understand the reason why teaching is like no other profession.
This publication is intended to open your eyes to the rich depth of knowledge and experience that you will build over time and to inspire you to make the most of your membership of your professional body, the Chartered College of Teaching. This is an organisation that focuses on the core skills of pedagogy, curriculum, assessment and leadership. We are raising the status of teaching throughout society and will be with you every step of the way as you seek to plan and develop your career.
As a new teacher, one of the most important areas of your development will be to build and deepen your professional knowledge, practice and behaviours. The Chartered College will support you in extending your subject- or phase-specific expertise. You will want to know about research findings nationally and internationally that may impact on your effectiveness as a teacher and, most crucially (because we know you will be busy), we will offer you case studies and inspirational examples of research-informed practice. We shall keep you up to date online, providing access to our groundbreaking termly journal Impact. Our website will signpost you to learned societies, subject associations and specialist network groups that will offer additional professional learning opportunities beyond your school or college setting.
The day-to-day reality of working in classrooms can come as a surprise. You will have become adept at being a student, but changing role to that of teacher makes the familiar become strange. The range of skills that you will need to develop as a teacher can be challenging, but we are here to help you. In preparation for Chartered Teacher status, which you will be eligible to consider three years post-qualification, we have developed the following set of professional standards:
- Professional knowledge
- Deep knowledge of subject area/specialism
- Critical understanding of subject-specific or specialism pedagogy
- Deep knowledge of most effective pedagogical approaches
- Design implementation and evaluation of assessment
- Knowledge of education trends, debates and policy
- Professional practice
- Productive classroom environment with a culture of learning
- Plans and delivers excellent lessons and sequences of lessons
- Ensures that every child learns and makes progress
- Develops a collegial approach
- Professional behaviours
- Critically evaluates and reflects on their own practice
- Commits to relevant career-long professional learning
- Exhibits collegiality by supporting and learning from others
- Demonstrates high standards of professionalism
- Engages critically with research and evidence.
The role of teacher is incredibly diverse and complex. You can see from the standards above that expectations of you will be high and that the skills you will develop will continue to deepen throughout your career. As a teacher new to our profession, you will have a great deal to learn. Some skills may develop more quickly than others, but the reality is that part of the joy of being a teacher is that you will never ever be bored and there will always be so many new things to achieve. Some of the children and young people you meet will challenge you to the core but others will adore you. Some of your colleagues may make the job look incredibly easy or may be impressively able to command attention from their pupils with a click of their fingers. Others will cause youngsters to glow with pride simply because they receive a look of approval. The reality of building your presence within the classroom and wider school may seem daunting but, once you start to understand that the respect you command needs to be earned and there are key aspects of your behaviour that will help this, everything gets easier.
As a new entrant to the profession, you have so much to offer through your insights as a student and as someone able to view the work of the school objectively. Hopefully you are also full of energy and are keen to innovate. You will soon begin to see that, whatever motivated you to become a teacher, the consequences of this decision mean that you begin to gain the opportunity to build hope and inspiration in others. You may have decided to teach because you have a powerful sense of wishing to help others succeed or because social justice is at the heart of your values. If your principle motivation is because you enjoy learning and wish to spend more time in your particular field of expertise, there will be a multitude of opportunities for you to engage in this.
The reality is that society needs great teachers and, as a professional body, the Chartered College of Teaching is here to support you in becoming an expert, inspirational colleague. You have the opportunity to become the person that others look back on later in life and inwardly thank for making the difference. We will work with you every step of the way throughout your career as you seek to be the best teacher you can be. There can be no doubt that teachers transform lives. Thank you for making the decision to become a teacher – you are part of the future for our children and young people.
Explore the full range of member benefits on the Chartered College’s website: chartered.college.
Professor Dame Alison Peacock is Chief Executive of the Chartered College of Teaching. Prior to joining the Chartered College, Dame Alison was Executive Head teacher of The Wroxham School in Hertfordshire. Her career to date has spanned primary, secondary and advisory roles. She is a member of the Royal Society’s Education Committee, a trustee of Teach First and a Visiting Professor of both the University of Hertfordshire and Glyndwr University.