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Moving from Primary to Secondary

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by GrammarBear, Oct 25, 2017.

  1. GrammarBear

    GrammarBear New commenter

    After being unhappy in my Primary role for a number of years I decided that a new challenge was needed.After a number of failed applications, I have just accepted a role as a Teacher of KS3 at a nearby LA maintained Secondary, for Jan 2018. After 24 years in Primary (mainly Y6) the world of Secondary is equally exciting and scary!

    Any advice and tips would be gratefully received from my new Secondary colleagues.
    pepper5 likes this.
  2. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    So you will be teaching years 7,8 and 9. What is positive, is that you have some time to prepare yourself. Preparation is key. Will you be teaching English? Have a look through the schemes of work and just get a feel for what you will be teaching.

    One of your biggest challenges will be managing the behaviour. You are going to be new and the students won't care if you have taught 24 years at Harvard or 10 minutes at Kerching High - they will test you so prepare yourself mentally and know and understand it will happen so it does not phase you. How to prepare? Get the school's behaviour policy and go through it line by line and know it inside out.

    Second step is to think about the routines you want your classes to do. It will be somewhat different in secondary, but decide on how you want your classes to enter and leave your room. Are they going to line up outside the door or are you going to let them come in without lining up first?

    Make up your seating plans when you get your class lists. Boy, girl works well and once you get your classes and see what the dynamics are then you can move people as necessary.

    Explain your class rules. Have three easy ones:

    Follow instructions fast
    Stay on task
    Work without disturbing others

    Prepare some scripts in advance on what you are going to say when managing behaviour.

    Pivotal Education web site is a good source of free behaviour management tips. Reasd around the topic for some advice you think you want or need.

    You will need to remain very calm but firm. You know what kids are like. They will test you, it once they know ykh are not going to run away crying and are the !leader in the room, they will get bored and get on with the work.

    The workload may be slightly more in secondary English so if that is what you are teaching, you will need to be organised. If you have your own room, keep things all in order: get shelves or use crates and label where everything goes. Give students turns to give the books out and to collect them in. Keep everything labelled and in correct places.

    Ensure you give out plenty of well deserved praise.

    Let us know how you get on.
    phlogiston and JohnJCazorla like this.
  3. GrammarBear

    GrammarBear New commenter

    Thank you so much Pepper 5. Really useful,helpful and much appreciated.
  4. krisgreg30

    krisgreg30 Occasional commenter

    What subject are you moving up to teach out of interest?
  5. GrammarBear

    GrammarBear New commenter

    They are looking for a mix of Maths English and Science across mainly Year 7 and 8. I had to teach a Y9 RE lesson on interview so some teaching of RE as well.
    pepper5 and krisgreg30 like this.
  6. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    Welcome to the madhouse! Secondary kids are an enormous amount of work but they are equally a lot of fun. There's a lot less touching as well - my experience in Primary made me come to a rapid conclusion that I simply could not deal with the endless poking, stroking of my arm, patting my hand...drove me nuts! Massive respect to all Primary colleagues!

    If you're teaching core subjects, get in touch with your new Heads of Department and ask for the topics that you will be teaching so you can prepare. For English, you will almost certainly need to read the texts that you wish/are expected to teach, and you'll also need to familiarise yourself with Maths and Science topics to the relevant level (i.e. if you're teaching a top set, you need to teach up - so include GCSE-level questions for Year 9, for example). Ask if you can borrow a copy of any textbook used so you can do an outline plan of pages needed to cover particular topics.

    Familiarise yourself with the age-related expectations required in Years 7, 8 and 9 (as well as at GCSE so you know the end point for each skill, as well as if you end up teaching KS4 in the future).

    I think most secondaries are not as good at sharing planning and resources as Primary schools. You should ask for whatever is available, read it carefully and do an outline plan for the first fortnight (don't use too much detail as the kids will almost certainly not run to timetable!). Find out what the marking policies are for each department, and find out what the expectations are for assessments/exams/end of unit tests etc. so you don't waste time planning for things only to find out that your Head of Science provides all the tests!

    I would also recommend having a seating plan ready to go (if you have class lists) in alphabetical order, so that your control of the classroom is established right from the get go. Secondary students in particular tend to see new teachers as fair game and will absolutely stretch the boundaries to see how far they can push you. Be completely rigid in your own non-negotiables and follow the behaviour policy 100% as otherwise it'll come back to bite you in a few weeks when the kids think you're a pushover.

    And good luck! As I've said before, the students are absolutely the best bit about secondary teaching - fun, funny, opinionated, hormonal, dramatic, loyal and mad as a box of frogs!
    pepper5 likes this.
  7. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Come over to the supply forum for a chat of you need someone to listen or just just say hello.
  8. AdrianReast

    AdrianReast New commenter

    Thanks Pepper5 and secret siren for your comments and support much appreciated.
  9. robjgriff

    robjgriff New commenter

    Hey.............you'll be fine......I did something similar but had trouble making sure my subject knowledge was sufficient. Try science-gcse.co.uk
    Their package covers everything in AQA but at GCSE level. Its a bit different and is help me develop new subject knowledge. Hope it helps
  10. frustum

    frustum Lead commenter

    I think the biggest problem you are going to have is being in three or four different departments - all support tends to be departmentally organised. Make sure you get hold of departmental handbooks from each, and try to establish a go-to person for each subject/group - that might be the teacher of the parallel set, rather than the HoD, as they may well be able to throw some of their planning your way. You might find some groups are split between you and a subject specialist, in which case you need to establish with them what you are going to cover and what they will cover - sometimes for split groups the two teachers will split the topics, which means you can get on and plan independently, hopefully for a topic you're more confident with. Or it might be that the subject specialist is teaching most of the lessons, and sets something for you to do in your one lesson a fortnight.

    You're probably also going to find you are teaching in several different rooms, which brings its own headaches. If you are having to travel right across the school in zero time, it's sometimes worth seeing whether there's a room swap which would reduce this. Where you have got a quick move, make friends with whoever "owns" the room, who may be prepared to put up a starter activity you've e-mailed to them and start getting the kids in for you. (I used to be followed in one room by a teacher coming from a cookery lesson on the other side of the school - I frequently got the class in and settled.) We used to equip "nomadic" teachers with a toolbox of essential stationery to take with them.

    You probably won't have to worry too much about subject knowledge for maths - they're unlikely to put you on the top maths sets, and if you've taught the full ability range at year 6 you should be fine with everyone else. Science will have rather more new content, of course, but most year 6 teachers are well used to learning and delivering new things.

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