Schools Graduate matters: The year you’ll never forget

When I was a graduate teacher I had a lot of colleagues tell me, “You’ll never forget your first year!”

They were right. But it’s truer than ever for graduate teachers starting their careers in 2020. It is certainly proving to be a particularly memorable year for everyone.

Graduate teachers are flexible, dedicated and willing to learn – really important attributes to have in uncertain times. That said, Term 1 has pushed most of us close to our limits. In these challenging times, there are three important things to remember.

Your right to a safe workplace

Whether working in a classroom or working remotely, your physical and mental health is important. Working from home can reveal hazards we’re not used to in schools. Be alert to potential strains and physical injuries from long periods of sitting and screen work. If you feel your mental health is being affected by the changes to your work, consider contacting your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) – a free and anonymous service.

Employment conditions still stand

While the nature of our day-to-day work has been changing, the conditions you’re employed under still stand. How many hours you’re required to work, the span of hours, your face-to-face teaching limits, professional practise days and reduction in duties for first year teachers haven’t changed.

As a first-year teacher you should still have a mentor for support and time to work with them. These conditions were all fought for and won to support you as you develop as a teacher – and you still need them.

We’re here to support you

As a union, we support each other. If you need help, consider contacting your sub-branch leadership or union colleagues.

You can call or email the AEU Member Support Centre (MSC) for individual advice on your rights and entitlements. Or log in and browse the fact sheets and support material on the AEU website’s member portal.

We have a number of member and graduate training opportunities you can register for, aimed at building your skills and providing an opportunity to network with your peers.

Connect over the AEU social media channels for New Educators, CRTs, Early Childhood and AEU members. You’ll be able to keep up with member events and join in the conversation on your profession.

Finally, as a member, you can have confidence that AEU reps and leadership are working behind the scenes to ensure the complex professional and industrial issues that affect your working life are being fully explored. We’re advocating in your best interests so your first year of teaching can be memorable for the right reasons.

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