Feel more prepared and confident for teaching this year

January 18, 2016

Build confidence in the classroom

You’re probably already thinking about what 2016 might bring for you and your students, and planning your term 1 program. It can be helpful to review your successes from last year, and those things that didn’t go so well. This information can help you to plan, prepare and be confident about the year ahead, particularly about your capacity to deal with any difficulties that may arise.

There are often common issues and difficulties from one year to the next. So take a few minutes to think about the issues you faced last year, and the questions that were frequently asked by parents, especially early in the year, and jot down the strategies that worked and those that didn’t achieve what you had hoped. If you are new to teaching consider doing this with an experienced colleague.

Select a few key issues or difficulties from last year. For each one, note a few points for the following questions:

  • What did you do well when handling the issue, difficulty or complaint? What specific actions did you take?
  • What could you do better? What specific actions could you take?

Your responses could include, having a good relationship with the student, meeting early in the year with the student’s parents and the Principal/School Psychologist, communicating assertively, following through on what was agreed, holding short meetings before school, reading about the issue, using evidenced-based practice, talking to the student’s teacher from last year, attending PD, getting enough sleep.

Once you have completed this, you can consider:

  • What are common issues faced by students in the year level/s you will teach?
  • What are common questions asked by students’ parents at this level?

You can then plan specific actions you might take in response to each one. This can be a useful exercise to do with your team or department. Together you will see issues from differing viewpoints, which can be illuminating when considering how best to prevent re-occurrence or how to address similar issues in the future. A group approach is likely to result in a broader range of possible strategies; and may encourage others to share the problems, and potentially assist with solutions. It is also more likely to lead to consistent approaches across your team or department.

You may decide to implement some preventative strategies now. This may be as simple as planning to send home a letter introducing yourself, outlining school expectations surrounding homework, behaviour, uniform, break times, or you might gather resources or handouts to distribute to parents on commonly asked questions. You might even decide to develop more complex step-by-step plans requiring collaboration with senior staff members, psychologists, or special education teachers.

It may be helpful to review our ebooklets on working with angry parents, helicopter parents, parents who behave irrationally or our Working with children ebooklets.

Two previous Psych4Schools blogs have more on preparing for the new year and more information on planning to avoid potential problems with parents next year.

Psych4Schools members: research solutions to potential problems working with students.

Not a Psych4Schools member? Look here for information on the common difficulties experienced by students.

Planning now means that when confronted with an issue this year you will feel more prepared and confident to deal with it. We invite you to share your planning now, and your implementation throughout the year by submitting your one page guest planning blog for possible publication to, see terms and conditions.

Zoe Ganim and Murray Evely, Psych4Schools Psychologists