Outside the Classroom
I would advise any teacher to think about what they can do to integrate themselves fully into the life of their school.
It’s not just about the classroom; schools now expect teachers to engage in the school and show an interest in extracurricular activities. This is beneficial on so many levels from helping get to know difficult students outside of the classroom to getting to know the rest of the staff besides your own department or year group (if you are a primary teacher). It can also benefit career progression because it will be obvious that you are willing to give up your free time so the senior management team will be impressed and hold you in high regard.
To start, find something you are passionate about. If you’re into nature, try an outdoors club or create a hiking club. Or if it’s art that peaks your interest, lead an art club where students can paint or do pottery after school. Most schools have a variety of opportunities to get involved in which represent a diverse range of interests. From running to photography to music, there are many different ways to utilise your strengths and contribute to the school through extracurriculars. If a club doesn’t exist that you want to lead, then create it! Often times schools offer a lot of flexibility with clubs, as long as there is a teacher willing to act as an adviser and be present.
Be creative when considering ways to further involvement in the school. Involvement does not necessarily mean leading a club– it could be merely going to sports games for your students or student club fairs. Demonstrating support for your students is an impactful way to make a difference within the school and show your commitment to the students.
One of the most common questions asked in interviews for higher positions is ‘what have you done outside of the classroom to promote your school?’. There are so many ways of participating in school life. My first year in a school, I went to every play, concert, sports event and debate. I had just moved to London so my initial motivation was to get to know the teaching staff really well so that I could make friends. I also genuinely like the kids at my school so I was happy to spend time with them outside of the lessons. I set up my own club called Friends of Animals. I organised speakers to the school who were of interest to my club and I organised day trips with my club members to farms, dog shows and other animal events. I even went to events that required staying overnight such as sports camp where I was slept in a tent for three nights. It has truly been a rewarding experience for me to get to know my students better outside of the classroom and to spend my free time engaging in activities I enjoy.
I highly recommend getting involved in school life outside of the classroom- it will improve your experience at a school, as well as the experience of your students!