1 Join your Union
A union is a group of workers who have agreed to collectively use their strength and pool their resources to give people a voice in the workplace and fight for fair pay and conditions. Union membership is your greatest resource in helping you navigate the world of employment and is thereto assist you should you encounter any difficulties in your employment.The Independent Education Union is the union that represents teachers and support staff in your school. With over 30,000 members across NSW and ACT alone, the IEU is well resourced and equipped to deliver positive outcomes, improvements and advice to our members.
2 Double check your pay and conditions
Check your letter of appointment/contract that lays out many of your conditions of employment, for example, whether your job is temporary or permanent, your hours of work etc. It should also refer to the enterprise agreement (EA) that applies, and if there is no EA, then to the relevant award.Make sure you agree with the classification specified in your letter of appointment and that you have provided all documentation required by your employer (such as statements of service, copies of your qualifications, etc).If you are not familiar with the classification, check the rate of pay and the definition in the EA to ensure there are no misunderstandings.
3 Update NESA/TQI with your employment details?
It’s important that your teacher registration body knows your current contact details and place of employment. Your teacher registration body is either NSW’s NESA or ACT’s TQI. Take some time to change your contact email and postal addresses if they have changed and give them your best phone number to reach you on. If you change your legal name, make sure that you let NESA or TQI know too. Any time you change your job, make sure that you log in and update that as well. If you’re working casually, there is a category for that. Chat to the appropriate person within the school with which you have the best professional relationship to let them know you’re selecting their school as your major place of work as a casual teacher.
4 Investigate what PD opportunities are available to you
As a first year teacher, you don’t need to complete mandatory set hours of PD (until you reach Proficient level), but you should look around for what is available to you. Many schools offer networking opportunities for first year teachers, as does the union, professional teaching associations and TeachMeets. Sometimes, that PD is free! The IEU provides free professional development on a range of topics including accreditation at Proficient, voice care, behaviour management, anxiety and safety. Visit www.ieu.asn.au today for upcoming events, or check out www.TheIEUZone.org.au for on demand PD.
5 Clean up and lock down your social media profiles
A recurring issue that affects even experienced teachers is their personal social media accounts becoming public knowledge. Fair or not, past posts and comments can be dredged up and personal, controversial, or inappropriate statements may be used against you. This isn’t to scare you away from using social media, as there are numerous professional networks and resources available across all platforms, including a number facilitated by the IEU. You may wish to create a ‘professional profile’ that you use to participate in these forums and keep your personal posts to a separate profile – possibly under a pseudonym. Even then, it’s still recommended that you be cautious when posting online, particularly with regards to sensitive or employment related topics where you or your employer could be identifiable. Remember, whatever you post online can be there forever.
6 New teacher? Find out what kind of induction program your school has put in place for you
As an early career teacher, you should expect your school to have a structured induction program in place to assist you in your transition into the workplace. It is important that you are provided with an overview and timetable of the induction process. This program should be developed and sufficiently resourced according to your needs. You should be allocated a mentor teacher who is able to commit to regularly meet with you throughout the year to provide support and help guide you through your induction process. You should be provided clear employment-related information. This should include and may not be limited to: duty statement, documents relating to ethos and mission of the school, superannuation entitlements and options, union coverage and benefits, salary and conditions entitlements, provision of training in school policies, procedures and general expectations, duty of care, mandatory reporting responsibilities and teacher/parent communication.
7 Find out whether you can access time as a first year teacher
If you have picked up a permanent or temporary role, many employers allow you time off class to work on your programming, attend PD, participate in coaching or mentoring or to complete your accreditation. Some even allow time off for your mentor.Your entitlement will be set out in policies or, in Catholic systemic schools, in your work practice agreement. Don’t miss out on what has been achieved for you by not knowing it was available!
8 A final word
Keep all your documents in a safe place, filed on a device as well as a filed hard copy. Every workplace is different, so speak to your IEU rep about what provisions are in your EA or email firstname.lastname@example.org