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When the Going Gets Tough…!

Top tips for maintaining a positive attitude under the stresses of being an NQT


Lesson planning

In your first year of teaching many experiences will be exciting, challenging and incredibly rewarding. But let’s be realistic. You will also suffer a few setbacks, make some embarrassing mistakes and possibly be under quite a lot of stress. Sometimes it is easy to feel that you are under constant scrutiny and that you are exposed to judgement and criticism. Every teacher has felt like this at some time in their career. How we deal with these moments is what makes the difference to how we continue.



Positive Mental Attitude

PMA is important in lots of situations. We can see that top sporting champions are highly trained physical athletes but we also know that they all employ psychologists to ‘get their heads in the right place’.



Here are Ten Simple Tips to develop and maintain a PMA:


  1. No-one else knows you better than you do

Place less emphasis on other people’s judgements of you, and start listening to your own. When you are relatively inexperienced there will be no shortage of people in the staffroom telling how you should do things. Listen, but make your own choices.


  1. Believe in yourself

Stop comparing yourself to other people. If you must, look at those who are less fortunate than yourself and appreciate how good your life is. Try to gain a better perspective. Always believe that you can achieve anything you put your mind to.


  1. Realise that only you get to control your reactions

We all have problems, and we’re often tested by circumstances outside of our control. Even though you may not be in control of what’s going on outside of you, you most definitely can control your reaction to those situations.


  1. Stay calm

We get wound up and can lose control over our own actions because of the way other people act. Yet, you are responsible for choosing your own actions. If you lose your temper or panic, you are the one who loses in the end as it drains your energy and often makes you feel disappointed in yourself.


  1. Be grateful

Be grateful for what you have or what you are good at. If you always think about what you lack, you will never have enough and it will impact on your wellbeing.


  1. Stop fussing over trivial matters

Start focusing your energy on what’s really important to you.


  1. Swap thoughts

When a negative thought comes into your mind, instantly swap it for a positive one. Think about a favourite memory or someone you love. This will help to keep your mind clear of the negative thoughts.


  1. Don’t dwell on the past

It blocks the way to the future. When we are on our own we play it over and over again. Break the bad habit and look forward not back. The next time a past mistake is weighing you down, instantly think about something in your future. Write down a goal and focus on the positive things you want.


  1. Associate with more positive people

Try to stay away from negative and pessimistic people. Surround yourself with positive people. Constantly negative people can drag you down, robbing you of your emotional and physical energy.


  1. Positive role models

Think about someone that you respect and who has the positive traits that you want to possess. Work out what it is you admire but don’t try to be them – just begin to adopt the style of positivity that suits your character.


Choosing to think more positively is the first big step towards becoming more resilient – the ability to bounce back from tough situations and avoid becoming a victim of circumstances. So, the next time the going gets tough…make sure you choose to get going!


Lynne Deacon

Lynne has over 30 years’ experience in education, both as a classroom practitioner and Senior Leader. Qualified to PhD level in Geography, she also has a wide range of management experience and holds the NPQH. An experienced freelance trainer, writer and consultant, Lynne is also sought after as a curriculum and timetabling advisor. She is actively involved in the development of new courses and the writing of training materials. Comments by Creative Education delegates include “a fantastic tutor” and “good, practical, down to earth ideas, based on real experience”. Lynne currently specialises in delivering courses from the geography portfolio, PSHEe, well-being and resilience, LRCs/libraries and a broad range of leadership and management topics for both teaching and support staff. She is also part of the team of Creative Education Core Skills trainers delivering the British Council Connecting Classrooms programme.

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