As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve finally landed my first full-time teaching job since arriving back from Turkey in September 2010. The job market is tough.
When starting a new teaching job, it is unrealistic to expect much information to rather magically flow your way. In a typical HE setting on an hourly paid contract, you might be mostly isolated from other teaching colleagues, arriving on campus only to deliver your lessons, then leaving again immediately afterwards. If you’re lucky, you’ll have an office space where you can hot desk, or at the very least, there will be an online repository of teaching materials such as box.net, which you’ll still have to trawl through to find anything useful, and you’ll probably need to revise/adapt the materials besides.
In the private sector, colleagues will all be on full teaching workloads, which means they may have little time to ‘orient’ you. In many cases, you’ll be expected to dive straight in with the bare minimum of knowledge. Bear in mind that locating and familiarising yourself with a new syllabus and all the materials is extremely time-consuming. You’re likely to have a million questions to ask, and it pays to come prepared to a new teaching role with a list of questions you need answered. (You can then go around pestering everyone until you are satisfied). The following questions will help you to help yourself get oriented:
Questions to ask:
- When will my contract be sent out? Is it permanent or fixed-term?
- How do I get my ID card?
- How do I get on the payroll? When is payday?
- Do I need a CRB check?
- How do I get my IT account?
- Where is my desk/space?
- How do I print?
- What are the door codes?
- How do I use the photocopier?
- Where is the stationery cupboard?
- How do I access the shared drive/cloud service?
- Where are the course books/teachers’ books?
- Are we using a VLE?
- Where is the syllabus? When are the assessments?
- How prescriptive is the syllabus?
- Are we taking paper or electronic registers?
- What is the policy on late arrivals? How should I record them?
- Where can I get a staff handbook? a student handbook?
- What is my teaching timetable?
- Am I expected to remain on site between certain hours or only for classes?
- What’s happening in the first week? Is there a ‘standard’ first lesson I can use?
- Will my students already know each other?