10 tips for ECT Art Teachers

By Ronnie Houselander Cook - August 5, 2022

As we approach the end of another year in practice, it’s a time to reflect and celebrate on the year that has passed. I’m sure you can agree that it’s a world away from the sheltered process of teacher training, but you did it! With Covid still reaping havoc in most schools and colleges you should consider how the resilience you have built over the past year will benefit you in years to come. 

Below, I have shared 10 tips for ECT’s (Early Careers Teacher’s) embarking on their new journeys but also some points of reflection for those who have just completed the year.  

1.     It won’t always be perfect- and that’s ok 

Picture this, you’ve spent hours prepping for the perfect lesson, but half the class are off sick and the other half aren’t feeling particularly energetic and are easily distracted. We’ve all been there at least once this year – you aren’t alone. It can be disheartening but remember the are so many variables that create the perfect lesson. You need to remember: it won’t always be perfect and that’s ok! The teaching and learning assessments and observations might seem daunting, but they are supportive. Use these observations to demonstrate new ideas or to seek help with things such as behaviour management. Your SLT want to help you. Utilise their knowledge and experience but know that if it hasn’t gone right now, it could be great next time. 

2.    Value the diversity of your learners 

One of the perks of the job is meeting lots of new people and getting to know a range of people from different walks of life. By now, you will know by now that every learner is different and valuing this diversity will allow you to create those meaningful connections that make the challenge worthwhile. You are likely to be someone’s favourite teacher or teaching the subject that someone loves to study. Building these relationships will make the days more worthwhile so you can enjoy what you are doing. When you are inspired the learners will see this and will be more engaged. 

3.    Shake it up! 

The temptation to repeat this year’s projects may be growing but resist. What has worked this year may not work next year and visa versa.  What you’ve done this year is probably fantastic but allowing time for reflection will give you the opportunity to develop your lessons and resources to meet your learners needs. If you are searching for inspiration, remember you can use the resources on this website to generate new ideas. 

4.    Don’t be afraid to ask for help 

From the experienced teacher who has been practising for 10 years, to the teacher who is just starting out we all have something we can bring to the table. Look around you, is there a teacher who inspires you in your school? Don’t be afraid to ask to shadow some lessons; the chances are they will say yes. You can look outside of your faculty, for example, seeking inspiration from other teachers such as English, Maths and Science. This will give you new ways to embed these subjects into your teaching. Furthermore, it could open opportunities for collaboration. Everyone at your school or college should be routing for you. Nobody wants you to fail, so don’t be afraid to utilise these relationships with your colleagues. You never know, they could need you just as much as you need them. 

10 tips for ECT Art Teachers 
End of Year Show

5.    Online learning? That’s so 2020!  

Remember how quickly the education landscape changed? It’s not impossible that it could happen again so keeping up the confidence with online learning is so important. Even if it’s just administrative digital health checks keeping on top of your school’s virtual learning platform will keep you prepared. Furthermore, it’s clear that the use of technology makes learning more inclusive. If a student has missed a lesson, no problem the resources are there for the student to access. Having a prepared and organised digital space will allow your learners to revisit your amazing resources more confidently. 

6.    Engage with CPD 

When you are feeling snowed under by admin and planning the last thing you may want to do is some prescribed CPD. However, it’s important to engage with CPD to continue to develop your practice and widen your knowledge of education. There are some great opportunities such as Microsoft Educator Expert Certification or taking part in workshops from the Society of Education and training. Remember to engage with your internal CPD as much as you can.  

Training doesn’t have to take hours just a small bit can make a huge difference. Below, I’ve listed some sources that have been helpful for me this year. 

  • Sherrington, T (2019) Rosenshein’s Principles in Action. John Catt 
  • Robinson, K (2006) Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity? TedTalk 
  • Learning pathways on Microsoft Learn (The interactive sessions range from 10 minutes to a couple of hours, and you will be rewarded with a badge/certificate)  

7.    Get to know everyone 

Working with Colleagues

You may have noticed some familiar faces popping up around your school or college. From teachers outside of your faculty, to cleaners to site managers. Say hello! A small conversation away from teaching may be just what you need to boost your morale. Building relationships will make you feel more confident in your environment, but you never know when you may need them. 

8.    The fear of the unknown 

Hopefully, you should have some understanding of what the new academic year will look like. Asking for next year’s timetable will help settle any uneasiness you may be feeling about the unknown. Familiarise yourself with the change before it happens. Are there any familiar groups? Is this a chance to make new relationships? Familiarising yourself with your timetable will also allow you to create clear blocks for planning and allow you to plan your life outside of teaching. 

9.    You are allowed to be proud 

Self-praise and acknowledgement may feel almost sickening at times, but you work hard, and you are allowed to be proud of your achievements. If something has gone well, don’t be afraid to share it with your team, I’m sure they would love to know about it. Recognising what has gone well will show you your strengths. There will be times when it doesn’t go as planned, so the moments of happiness and joy need to be grasped with both hands. 

10.  Keep the faith and be kind to yourself 

As a new teacher, you have likely felt overwhelmed at points and discovered your work finding a way into your life at home. It’s important to set clear boundaries so you are bringing your best self to the classroom and avoiding burnout. You can only bring your best if you are caring for yourself. If you are finding it hard to create clear boundaries, speak to your line manager. My top tip is allocating set times during the week where you will not do any work. This includes checking your emails on your phone. Remember, you are new to creating a work-life balance as well as being new to teaching. Keep the faith, you’ve got this! 

I hope these 10 tips for ECT Art Teachers have been helpful and you have a well-deserved break over the summer. The work we are doing as Art Teachers is vital for student confidence and contributes massively to the educational experience. 

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Ronnie Houselander Cook

Ronnie Houselander-Cook is an Early Career FE Teacher and Educational Researcher based in the South West of England. She aims to raise the profile of creativity in Education and promote its benefits to a wider audience.

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