New teachers come out of their practicum excited and ready to dive head-first into teaching. But they often run into the problem of trying to decide which schools to teach at, being a positive force for students with difficult home lives, and a long list of other serious issues. How do they know if a school is right for them? How can they handle being a long-term substitute or start in the middle of the year? In this special interview with Liam Auliciems and Scott Harding, the founders of Prac-E, we answer these questions plus discuss what to do if your school has a toxic culture.
Where to find Prac-E:
- Website/Blog: www.prac-e.com
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjYZnQTe_bVQz4TbyhmxwZA
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/praceproductions/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/prac_e/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/prac_e
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/prac-eproductions/
- Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/prac-e-podcast/id1353493632?mt=2
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I have a fun and informative interview with Liam Auliciems and Scott Harding, the co-founders of Prac-E. I was originally in contact with Liam through our mutual respect for each other’s work since we both have a mission of helping new teachers. I was particularly impressed with their symposiums for new teachers that Scott and Liam will talk more about, as well as all of the tips and hacks they provide through different types of media. I really enjoy the videos they put on Instagram and YouTube so you guys should definitely check those out, too.
Now a little bit about them. Scott is a veteran teacher of more than 22 years and he’s taught in every type of school out there both in his native England, as well as Australia where he’s lived for quite some time. He’s passionate about mentoring beginning teachers and gives us a lot of practical advice on this episode that I know you’re going to find valuable.
And Liam, who used to be one of Scott’s students, is an education entrepreneur. academic researcher, registered teacher, and a post-grad master student. His teaching experience ranges from being a residential tutor in a private school to volunteering to support some of Australia’s lowest socioeconomic students. And you’ll hear him go into that when we have our conversation.
As the three of us get into the thick of it, you’ll notice that there are a surprisingly large number of parallels between the problems we face here in the US with Australia, the same teacher shortages, the same frustrations with pre-service programs, the same concerns about the work environment and classroom management are there in two completely different continents across the ocean. Now, I won’t make you wait any longer for this. So here’s my interview with Liam and Scott. Thank you, Scott, and Liam, for being on the podcast. I really appreciate you taking the time all the way from Australia.
Thank you very much. We’re very happy to be here. It’s amazing when we started off this idea a few years ago the last thing that could ever have imagined that we would have enough slides right someone in America is Dr. Have no idea so it’s amazing so thank you so much for having us.
Yes thank you well now since you brought it up How did you guys get started with Prac-E like the idea of the name everything?
Well I actually taught him of all things is I survived which is nice. I taught him and then he came on prac at my school so basically started out you know, as a substitute teacher at ours and we were chatting one day said look, there is a formal process for for mentoring people we talk we made up on the fly almost there was no specific guiding process for me as an experienced teacher to him.
So, we work very closely together and we worked at a good working relationship and there was nothing there’s no manual there was nothing to follow. And I said how many people in the first off 2, 3, 4 years their career get no guidance in my huge and you look at the drop out rights was global, you know, not just America. But here in Australia, certainly back home for me in England, I’m English by the way, sorry. I just my accents in advance. And you know, the dropout rates approaching 50 is nothing higher 50% and you look at it and go, a lot of that has to do with the fact that people aren’t, aren’t feeling supported, or there’s a gap between what they’re told in the university, or what they’re told and lectures and the reality of teaching.
And it’s, it’s alarming if you’re an experienced teacher and you’re expecting people’s coming behind you as a generation. Where’s that going to come from? If people are dropping in this all the time, it’s not going to, it’s not going to be, you know, something that’s supportive, you know, for any kind of batch of education, really, whether it’s private or public. You know, I was able to see it firsthand as well through my university.
Every time we went, we came back from our practical experience out on school, my cohort had literally halved. We basically had a lecture theatre where we sat 400, 500 students. And then we came to the first lecture post-prac. And it was compulsory to rock up and only eight students were there, including myself on the Hunger Games show. And from what I’ve heard, there was a massive discrepancy between what we’re being told we were in store for.
And then the reality of the situation once we went out and to prac, and I had people peace of mind out on prac. They had a nightmare listen as any of us do, but they didn’t have that support network or the context to put in why that not man lesson particularly happened. So they blamed it all on themselves. And then you asked where John went because it’s period one and he’s not here. And then his mentor, he goes out, he dropped out last night. And he goes, it’s so there was only so much of that that I could take before we had to step in and come up with some sort of model to actually meet these needs.
And I think that’s where Prac-E originated from? Yeah, we know, from my perspective, certainly I’ve been teaching for 22 years now. And, you know, I can’t in good conscience sit there and watch that. I mean, I really can’t. I’m looking at that and going, there are so many good minds and so many great potential career teachers going to waste because they’re not feeling supported or, or mentor or cancel properly and we all have bad lessons happens. I mean, it’s whether you have bad days than bad weeks and then bad months, that’s a different thing completely.
But you can see where people would catastrophizing go, Well, I’m, clearly I’m not cut out for this. If I have two or three bad lessons for the classes resistant to them, you know, and they just because as far as I know, it shouldn’t be a teacher. Just stop. must happen to a lot of people in Australia.
So Scott mentioned that just before we have this thing called the teacher drought, where basically the teachers within the first five years of their careers especially dropping out and then astounding, It is debated whether how high the stats go, some statisticians say that upwards of 50 to 60% of teachers drop out of the profession. We also have the same themes here with the university because a lot of people are saying, you know what I’m learning in the university. It’s a lot of theory. It’s not anything that’s practical. And then so the one I go to my student teaching or practical experience, I feel like I’m completely unprepared and I’m eaten alive.
I don’t know what why do you guys think that this is so common, though, you think that they would have higher standards for preparing teachers?
We are running universities then because I’m sure they do a fine job and in terms of the academic theory, etc, is the practical knowledge that people want is people want to know what happens if a kid throws a chair at me. What happens is, you know, what happens if you know my technology fails on me, which is, you know, technology Driven classrooms is such a thing that But what happens if the internet goes down? What do I do then? How do I cope? I don’t feel that silence. And it’s that it’s the idea of the terrifying silence when you first get up and people looking at you.
And when we first started, Prac-E, we were discussing how the model should actually look. And obviously, what if you get a whole bunch of teachers in a room? Usually, the discussion goes to debates around big pictures kind of stumped and loaders. Whereas usually, with beginning teachers and university and college students in particular, sometimes we wonder, just the tiniest things that may be an experienced station may take for granted. For example, I have a million resources yet my lessons keep going short by 15 minutes, you know, and then I’ve got this dead air, like, why is this happening? And there are so many little tiny questions that beginning teachers have that don’t get covered in a unit or don’t get covered in a lecture. So Frankie really wanted to be practical.
So we wanted to hit those tiny little questions that probably caused the most anxiety before you go out on placement, and basically this comes up and gets experienced teachers and change. Yeah, change the context and go, Well, what are those tiny little things? Let’s nail the mole within an hour and a half, two hours. And then from there, you’ll have a bit more experience. So when it happens, it’s not happening for the first time. But the question is what keeps you awake at 2am? In the morning? Yeah, right.
So then what do you guys actually do with Prac-E? Like, I know that you had some symposiums? And like, how do you get people to go to that? Who are you targeting? What does your model look like?
So Prac-E split into two halves. First half of Prac-E symposiums were a panel of varied panel of experienced teachers aim to demystify the teaching profession for pre-service teachers and early career teachers and a q and a format, every single perspective that you could possibly imagine and we basically sit them down in a panel and Prac-E actually doesn’t present any content ourselves. It comes from the audience. So we have a lot Link as the audience can come through, which links to an online forum, and then it links to me the host, so they can literally ask any anonymous question to this panel for two hours.
The other half of Prac-E is digital media. So we basically could use the exact same approach to the symposiums. But for ongoing written or written word, audio and video. So we do a series like ask Prac-E anything where the teachers can send in real niche context questions, we answer them in real-time. Hopefully, it’s something that applies across international context anyway, because there’s just universality to a lot of the issues that people face, irrespective of the testing regimes and, and freedom that you’re given or not given rather from the government. Hopefully, there’s some kind of universal application for everyone who listens.
What factors do you think a new teacher should consider when deciding whether or not they want to even apply for a school? I mean, do you recommend the A new teacher just take whatever job they can get.
We get this question a lot during Prac-E, because obviously, the target market are going out into the profession. And they don’t know. I mean, I’ve worked in some horrible places in when I was a barista working in cafes. So I know the variants of workplace can have on everything, your mindset, your well being. So it’s a big issue for beginning teachers. They obviously want to find a school that they can succeed at. But the problem is, is that like you said, How do you know what that is until you’ve landed the job you have to go in and you have to do diligence, first of all for what you’re going into, you know, that’s, that’s the first thing you’ve got to know and do your research.
So if you do get a position, and you accept one, you have to have researched it well beforehand. The I mean, so if you know you’re going to be going into an area where there are challenges, you are least ready for those challenges, and then your criteria may well be a little bit different as a result of that. I mean, so for instance, with the low socio economic area, maybe attendance new class, you know, you’re going, if 80, 90% of them are consistently come into your class, and you know, other statistics in the School of 50, 60%, you’re doing well, you know, and yes, it might be physically taxing on you. And you might only last two, three years within the system, for you feel you need to change. But what a way to start your career. And that’s how to get through your first five years is to is to have those success criteria in your own mind as to what you wish to achieve.
So do you think that go for it, then just go and see how the chips fall?
I think so. I mean, the end of the day, we all start somewhere. I mean, we all start somewhere, and it might be something you didn’t expect to happen happens. I mean, it might be you look at the school and you first come and go, I’m not sure about this. And then six weeks later, you fall in love with it. And as a beginning teacher, there are a lot of things that you can do to fleshes school out and see what they’re like. It’s also beginning that journey to deciding your own pedagogical views as well.
I mean, when I started my degree, I had just come out of kind of the more private independent sector. And that’s personally where I thought that I was going to go yet through experience in those sectors. And I thought, Well, maybe not, maybe I need to go do this. That’d be I need to go do that. So I think keep your options open. And really ask yourself what you believe in it pedagogy that may be done through further research or practical experience. There’s a lot of things you can do such as, you know, get your foot in the door, volunteering at a school shooter at a school. Coaches sporting team, something along those lines, and then you can actually because if you base all of your opinions about a school or a sector based on an advertising pamphlet, yeah, that’s exactly right. It is it’s a promotional pamphlet, and that may not be the reality of the situation everyone’s going to make up on.
So get your foot in the door, and actually have tangible solutions. And also that goes a long way to landing a job as well, rather than cold calling the school. If you can show that you’ve had you volunteered your time working with that school and you like it, then that can go a long way towards getting a positive relationship with that school going forward. I think
You know, something that’s really common for new teachers is they are just kind of desperate for something in terms of a job. And so they’ll take a position like the long term substitute position. Do you guys have that? So maybe someone will go on maternity leave or take sabbatical? Or maybe I’m taking over someone that actually left at the first semester, and now the class is mine. So this is this is actually really common here. So what advice you give to those new teachers who are just kind of like thrown in, and what are the most important things that they should plan for and do like right off the bat?
It’s a great question, really, because that’s a big issue here in Australia as well, especially rural. And it rules usually quite short because no one wants to live in the country for a prolonged period. So they always say, so it’s not forever, but then Metropolitan so competitive that they go, Oh, you’re only going to be able to get a contract. And you got Well, which one is it? You know, where do I actually get a full-time position. So it’s something that is very common here.
That the rhetoric surrounding it is basically you get your foot in the door with some terms, three contracts while someone’s on maternity leave or something along those lines, you put your best foot forward, and hopefully, they offer you a full-time position. It’s a very odd way to structure a career. I think. It’s not a bad thing, though. Because, like I said to you, it’s about collecting experiences and your first five years of your teaching, you should be collecting experiences, right?
That’s what I personally feel and then you are in a position to be more discerning more discriminating event. Wait until you feel you naturally fit. But until you try something you don’t know, I think contract positions are a really good way to start a career. And the reason I think that is because you have to come in and you have to be on, you have to be on straight up, right? Because you can expect the first two weeks to be very turbulent, you can because the students are disrupted, no one likes change if it’s enforced on them, right? So the students are going to react to that. And they’re going to react that depending on where you are in the context of your country or the class that you’re dealing with all the culture you’re dealing with, in different ways. But you need to be ready for that.
And again, I come back to my consistent model. Well, that’s that does happen. We draw a line. This is now my classroom, this is what we do. I mean, and you have to you have to enforce that line. I remember seeing that film Coach Carter? And he comes in, and the basketball team already disruptor with the beginning, he goes, these are my standards, and they laugh at him initially, and then they don’t laugh at him when he starts to enforce those standards. Now, I mean, and over time, he makes a real point about those standards, and they become ingrained within him and they respond Well to him, but it takes time. It takes a little bit of time. And for you, you are in a position there, if you think about it’s a bit of a free hit, you know, you’ve come in, it might be that you’re taking over from a very, very loved teacher, in which case, you’ve got a little bit of a harder, harder.
It can be an uphill battle at that point because you might hear that, well, this teacher does it this way, right? We’re used to this. And you’ve got that resistance initially that you have to wear down over time, and they won’t like you. That’s okay. Initially, you know, there there are various people that I’ve met in my life that I didn’t like, but I love them now. I mean, that’s the thing. You say, Well, you don’t like me yet. It’s always like yet the word yet is very powerful. So you don’t like me yet? I mean, and you just leave it there and you just keep enforcing what you do. And eventually you’ll find in three months, six months, that’s a different picture.
And it’s having that long term idea in your mind is that this isn’t going to last forever. These first two weeks of turbulence won’t last forever. You know, it’ll get better. And it’s about you and what you can bring to the table not so much then you What can you do as an educator to bring things to life a little bit? What can you do that is different? What unique strengths do you have?
What can they do this first two weeks, knowing that the kids are going to be disrespectful? They might not even know where they left where the teacher left off. You know, if it’s a teacher, that’s a good teacher, and they’re just going on leave. Hopefully, they’ll leave them lesson plans, but let’s just say the teacher leaves and they just kind of have to pull everything together overnight. What are some suggestions so that, you know, when new teachers are faced with bad classroom management or a bad classroom environment, it really wears them down? It makes them feel like failures, they don’t want to do it anymore. How can we help them out in terms of like, preparing them and teaching them these last-minute classroom management type techniques?
The first thing you got to understand is that it’s about establishing your classroom. Right? So it’s not about content, you can catch upright? You can flip content, there’s various different ways of dealing with content. So the first thing got to get out of your head is I must cover content. Because if you haven’t established any kind of report anybody, you don’t know where you’re throwing against the wall and sliding down the wall. So the first few lessons shouldn’t be done through the content should be using them just talking. The beginning Teachers as well, I think you obviously want to put your best foot forward and succeed in the profession.
But I think an unfortunate symptom of that is that beginning teachers usually overcomplicate things and overstressed things and overwork and don’t put in particular boundaries. So you told me about that situation there. And I’m just thinking, there’s only so much you can control. And I think scheduling admin, you know, where those kids were before. That’s out of your control as a beginning teacher, and so are a lot of things within the happenings of the school, as Scott said, you can only control what happens within those four walls. During those 45 minutes.
You might as well just focus on that building rapport with that school and With that class and then leave kind of what’s going on with staffing and all those type of things and content and where they’re going to get with the assessment and what were they doing before? I think that’s that can you be awake or not? If you worry too much about that, you should just focus on that my job is that when those kids are in that classroom for that period of time on teaching, now Scott, you had touched before on how difficult it can be to teach in a more Metropolitan schools, you know, low sec socio-economic.
I’m sure where you’re at you also have those neighborhoods where there’s a lot of crime. The students have witnessed a lot of hardship, and maybe even experienced trauma. So, Liam, you also mentioned that these areas, ironically, are more popular because new teachers want to live in the city. So how can they prepare for this you know it they may not even be aware of how deep this goes because They may not have experienced it. They’re like I want to go live in the shiny city. But they don’t really know what the people who have grown up in that place are experiencing. So what should they expect and what should their priorities be?
I’ll jump in here because I’ve recently had experience in a very low socio-economic area of Brisbane. And I was in a school where I was shocked. I didn’t know that we had that low socio-economic students with that much hardship in our country, honestly thought that there was a bottom level and then I experienced the reality of the situation that I’ve been ignorant of my whole life. And it opened my eyes honestly thought that there was a base level standard and that these kids, some of the things that they have to go through on a daily basis. It was absolutely shocking to me, and it completely opened my eyes.
Some of them are in and out of juvie juvenile detention centers. Some literally the majority of school rocked up high on drugs, not just weight either like hardcore drugs, meth and things of that nature. None of them basically had consistent harming. They were all pale and they all had big sunken eyes and sores all over their skin. Some of them had bullet wounds. And then just the initial reaction to me being there was that they threatened me and threaten my life. And it’s just the most it just made me feel so dark and just so sad for them and so empathetic and it was made me feel shocked that this country allows that to happen. I mean, that their lived experience day to day is something that I could never fully understand.
So as a teacher coming in and those teachers that literally deserve to have their name up in lights every single day for this. Things that they put through and the things that they do, and that they come every single day, at 10 in the morning to do the same thing for those students, and they’re probably the only consistent role models that they have in their whole life.
You know, that’s jumping back into what you were saying. And going back to what I said earlier, that’s a success criterion right there. You know, you’re adjusting your expectation that points to what you can really achieve, because you are fighting things that you can’t control. So one of the first things you would say to a teacher in a difficult school like that is control what you can control. You can’t worry about things outside of what you’re doing, because it might be and I’ll go back to that safe space thing about again, your your classroom is a safe space, that person knows that they that’s a big responsibility.
Let’s say that I’m in a school where things like the students aren’t in a bad socio economic area. The kids are well off, the parents have all kinds of money. And then I discovered that the culture is toxic. I’m sure you’ve have experienced this where there’s mistrust between the administration and the staff, or your colleagues that are really, you know, they’re really bitter and jaded. And there might even be factions in the school. So you know, with new teachers, and I hear this all the time. They’re like, I came into this, and everyone hates each other. And I can’t even find a mentor because everyone is so better. So how can we help them out?
So something for getting teachers I think millennials always shocked onto the bus. Because, you know, we say they say that you know, that we can’t communicate and we can’t form one on one relationships anymore. That’s not the fact of it is that it hasn’t gone. It’s just changed. It looks in a different way than it used to be in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. What I’m talking about is that the capability for online platforms in terms of community professional development, communication is unheralded. And it is the point of coal for any beginning teacher that’s struggling out there. I mean, to connect with you, we’re in Brisbane, Australia, and we’re talking about pedagogy the summit in San Diego. That would never have been possible. And I think we need to take advantage of that because studies have shown that millennials value communication in that way.
And there’s numerous ways of doing it doesn’t have to be Prac-E. You know, Prac-E does that. But if someone finds something else that’s supporting them, I don’t care. As long as they’re finding some support and professional development. The easiest way of doing that is literally a Google search. There’s teacher meetups in your area. There’s Facebook groups, there’s Twitter hashtags, where people you know, talk about their problems. There’s Instagram groups, I mean, the ability to find teachers that are literally in your exact same level of your career is amazing. Whereas back in the day, I think a negative was that you had to find mentors in person.
I may feel all alone in the staff room, especially if they click off lucky was saying yet in the world today I can find numerous hundreds, if not thousands of like minded teachers that are going through the exact same thing. And that camaraderie is unparalleled. So if there was one thing that I would suggest is that if you’re not getting the support that you need in your school, is to kind of extend your realm of influence, start looking into online platforms, because there’s plenty of it out there. Well, the one thing I would say is any of that, if we’re talking generationally, and millennial teachers, your future, so things are going to change because you will change that. So you get this toxic culture that exists now, it’s not going to be there. When you become somebody who’s in that position. It’s just not gonna be there. So I mean, you look at that and go, I’m not going to go that way. And you can choose to go outside of your school, you don’t have to have a mentor within your school. You just don’t have to do that anymore.
Just working with them though. Like, I have to go to a department meeting with them. And they disregard everything I say, because I’m a new teacher, or because I’m a millennial, and you know, what, can I contribute to the conversation? How can a new teacher feel like they belong in the situation and not just be completely, you know, overshadowed by everything that’s going on in the school?
Well, the first thing is you got to separate the issue from the content. So if you’re looking at you’re looking at something, for instance, like grading papers and feedback in my subject area of English, that’s a massive thing, right? So you might have somebody who’s very, very adamant that this is the way that we do feedback and someone else is your faculty because they think that decides to go the other way and you’re sitting there watching this big battle going on. Right. Now the honest truth is, as in any situation, there’s probably merit in both their approaches, you take what you need. I mean, you just write it down, keep it for yourself, find a middle way. And getting advice to climb their positions gradually, gradually, gradually over time. You’re not if they actively dislike each other, there’s not much you can do about that. All right, but we’re all professionals at the end of the day. So mainly, hopefully, yeah, hopefully. So if it’s going to be unprofessional behavior or illegal behavior that get dealt with by admin, that’s nothing to do with you, you’re too far down the chain to worry about that.
Duck out of the fray.
Duck out of the fray, you stay out of it, don’t take the stand of it, right. And all you do is you sit there and you watch and you go, that person’s got that point, that person’s will that point, and you can suggest the middle way, you know, come out with a solution, you know, be solution oriented. This is My advice. Don’t worry about the issue. Don’t get involved in the politics. If there’s someone asked you to say, I’m sorry, I’m too young. I don’t understand. By played all over, it doesn’t matter. Stay out of it. Do not be recruited. That’s my advice.
And for the love of God, don’t engage in stuff and gossip yourself. That’s the fastest way to go. Once you’re in that world, you’re in that world forever. You’ll do the high school girl mentality. “You know what Jenny said? And he say, Oh, yeah, whatever.” I don’t even say anything. And then they go to Jenny, “Do you know what Lisa said?” It’s the exact same type of thing. I mean, it’s, you got a question, Who are the adults and they were the kids in some schools. What you’ve seen, but you want to be that one staff member when someone goes, You know what? Liam’s never said anything. Does he have good ideas? Yes. I’ve never heard anyone say anything bad about him or he’s never said anything bad about anyone else. Yeah, if that means you have to get up and leave the room.
So Be an excuse. But sometimes joining that is never to your advantage ever because people notoriously flip flop. And then sometimes you agree with their opinion on Monday. They’ve disagreed, and they’ve changed their mind on Tuesday, and then suddenly, you’re the enemy and you didn’t even agree with anything. You can’t get dragged into that quicksand. So the obvious social traps avoid is just because they’re toxic doesn’t mean you need to be right. All right, don’t sit there and get sucked into that quicksand of nonsense, you just stay out of it. And as I say, you find that external support, if you can’t find internal support, and you diarize you don’t rise now, this is what I’m learning here. This is what not to do. Apparently, this is what not to do, as opposed to what to do.
Now, Scott, have you ever been in a situation where you were singled out either by administrators or other colleagues, you know, in a negative way, and they just, it just felt like they had it out for you?
Oh, of course. I think we’ve all been there. When you speak your mind You tend to, to invite that occasionally and English faculties and tourism. Yeah. But, you know, you look at that and go, that’s okay, that’s part and parcel of being that kind of a person is that if you’re going to give your opinion, you’re going to get some back. I mean, you have to understand the rules of the game there. And then obviously, you play within the structure that you have. I mean, you have to understand from a unique perspective, you actually have some rights as a teacher, right? You have some rights, you’ve got responsibilities for your rights. So there’s certain collegial behavior you should expect if that if a faculty member for instance, is criticizing you to the students, you know, and behind your back that’s that’s a massive No, no, in our profession, you just don’t do that kind of thing. I mean, that’s extremely unprofessional. So that’s happened to me occasionally. And I’ve had to come up to the stage with questions like, Can I have a private chat with you please. And if that private chat doesn’t go, Well, it gets escalated. That’s just the way it goes sometimes. And it can just be a personality clash. It can be a lack of professionalism. It can be a lot of different things domain can be misunderstanding sometimes it can be genuine.
With administrators, though, what if it seems like nothing you do is good enough. They’re always criticizing you. And you know, you’re a new teacher worrying about getting tenure?
Yeah, of course. I mean, that’s something that is a legitimate concern. But again, email everything, email, everything, keep it real, keep it real. Keep it real. Right. All of your interaction with them has to be formal. And it has to be Yeah, on email. Right? Protect yourself and join a union with advice. Those are the two things that I just say to any teacher join a union. All right. I’m not saying that because our catastrophizing, the saying, as a former teacher insurance for yourself is too volatile profession in terms of what you may encounter. You may require it one day, and it’s a very important thing to understand that you have collective voice, you know, so, email everything, join a union, and also seek support colleagues and make people aware what’s happening so that you can’t be taken in isolation at that point.
There was one school that I went to where I fundamentally disagreed with the head of departments strategy. And then I was foolish enough to say something about it. And this is another practice, you know, this is what happened is that I noticed naturally that type of person anyway. And it probably wasn’t the best way to go about it. And I think there was some other things going around the part of that time was probably the worst period in human history for me to actually be there. There was a lot of things going on. And then it turned into I think it like he was saying, it turns into some also almost personal battle, and I think it might be persecution here.
But what really helped me in that instance, was that, like I was saying, I focused on my students, and I focused on what I could do in that classroom. And during that time, my job at that point was to teach that group Kids 45 minutes period three, the teaching them 1984. So I made that the best that I could communicate an hour I was doing that, but the department start started to have it out. Because I wasn’t the only one that was disagreeing with this perspective. It was kind of like are saying before like there was a bit of hostile gossip going around and people with you know, saying it’s almost like a House of Cards thing going on.
But what happened to me was that I simplified things, actually simplifying things and boiling it down to what are your core responsibilities and when can really help you get through the day. I mean, sometimes it is heavy, especially if there’s a department meeting, you know, after the beginning of school during school and you have it out and then you’re quite upset, or something gets said and you you take it personally and there’s something that needs to be happening somewhere down the line, but it’s hard to go back to the classroom after that sometimes Because you just want to be like, what was that about? Then you start questioning yourself. But it is difficult. I can fully empathize with the perspective of this question, but simplifying it and analyzing your role, and really looking into what matters and what doesn’t. And changing your perspective and what is in control of what is not in my control can really help you get through day to day.
I’m imagining this might be different for each of you. At what point do you think a teacher should leave their school? When is it time for them to move on to a different school because some teachers they don’t want to leave because they feel like they’re quitting on the kids and they’re quitting on themselves, but they’re just really is a point when it’s not good enough for you anymore. It’s not good for you anymore. What do you think that point is?
I think once it starts bleeding into your well-being, I think that critical point where you need to deeply question your circumstances. Now whether that’s changing things within the school and sticking it out and maybe that some other circumstances leading to that, that’s one thing. But if it’s day in day out from the school, then there’s questions to be had. I think it’s alright to have a bad day, bad week, bad month, even bad term.
You know, sometimes just from the nature of where the school is at the moment where you’re at pedagogically in the combination of your classes, sometimes you are going to have a bad thing. We talked about resilience earlier. However, if it’s month after month, month after month, month after month, and it’s just you don’t see any kind of light at the end of the tunnel and that’s bleeding into your well being day to day, your relationships with other people. That’s when you need to question. If those schools the right fit for you, school culture is very dramatically different.
Through the symposiums to teachers that you think should be relatively similar from similar sectors have very drastically different opinions. And it just goes to show that schools are very different places than what they’ve taught us. We’ve talked to teachers who basically got fired from the school because they thought they couldn’t teach us themselves out of a wet paper bag. Yeah, they go to the next school and they get a promotion straight away, and then suddenly, they’re headed of the department. Sometimes schools are very insular bubble places. And sometimes, if you’re not in that bubble, and you don’t agree with it straight away, you know, they are very different approaches to education it can definitely change.
So I think if it starts bleeding into your well being and you just have fundamental differences step by step for prolonged period of time, that’s when you need to start looking to greener pastures, I think, was as two ways of looking at it right. So firstly, certainly there’s the there’s the well being aspects of things which is the obvious answer, but If you’re feeling like you’re getting stale.
I remember my first school, right? And six years I was there and I can remember the day I remember the lesson even though I decided that’s it, I’m done. And it was literally it was a French lesson with my European class. And I was literally repeating line for line the same lesson done the same week, the previous one, because you can see yourself becoming a robot that ends up happening stale. And it’s, it’s not it’s admitting that to yourself and going, I’ve hit my limit here. I mean, I need to move for my own sake at this point. And as it turned out, I emigrated but it’s really interesting to see.
When you know, you know, I mean, it’s whether you wish to admit it to yourself. I’ll give you example, right we watch UFC Conor McGregor hasn’t admitted it to himself yet either. He hasn’t. And it’s the same kind of thing with you with your teaching career. When you think, I’m at the point. Now. I need to do something different to myself. And so you can get stale. So the the corollary to the idea of well being is that you’re actually in a place for 7, 8, 9 years. And you hit that slump, which I’m sure you know, your 18 years in your career, I’m 21 into mind, you go, what do I do next? What do I do now?
So I’m curious with Prac-E, what’s next for you guys? What do you have down the tube?
Where is this with Prac-E? The The response has been absolutely amazing. And I think that it’s really hit a gap in the market that this needed to be here. I think is a global issue as well. The advice for beginning teachers from the perspective of beginning teachers is very rare. And it gives us a unique voice that I think is refreshing. These are the practical things that helped me perhaps help you as well. I think it cuts through a lot of the discussion at a real gets to what works and what doesn’t. And now we’re really finding our feet from now on, and it’s really going to explode from here.
So we’re going to be doing a new model where we’re doing four symposiums a year whereas before we were just kind of doing when and where we could raise. Now we’re actually getting a consistent model that I think is going to just extend the momentum because we were doing cold calls from nobodies to now, whereas now it used to just be me and my little basement. Now it’s people coming to us and I think that’s been a massive difference.
And I think it’s just going to go strength to strength from there. And then obviously, the videos and the audio will just, you know, production values will just extend from there. And then we’re also going to be offering, we’re going to be calling them Prac-E double downs, because something that we’ve found very interesting, Kim is that after our symposium and no one leaves, because I think people are hesitant to ask niche questions n an open forum. Everyone thinks, what’s a general question I can bring to bring value to the whole room?
So they’ll have some issues that can help everybody but someone may want to know I’ve got this one particular naughty boy. In my grade eight spirited six class, we’re teaching Hamlet, you know, and we got Scott here is an experienced English teacher. Now that you people are hesitant to ask that question because it’s so specific, that they wouldn’t bring value to anyone else.
So what we’re going to be doing is offering that context now with Prac-E double down. So we’re going to have basically our own thing where we’re going to have the Prac-E team, having a whole day conference, basically, we’re going to be giving that access that’s never been given before. Yeah, we’re going to be running, you know, we’re literally going to get principals in to do mock job interviews. We’re going to have Scott sit there who’s, you know, top ladder jobs in any type of school you can imagine go through your CV and say, if he had hire you or not what you can do to change it.
Now it’s going to be exactly the same ethos for symposiums. But it’s going to be to a selected few, which will give us the opportunity to really go deep dive with these people. I think that’s going to bring a lot of value as well. So with the symposiums with the double downs, we’re going to be doing post event kickoff as well. So the panelists are going to be logging on to our platform post event. And doing like asked me anything’s through throughout online platform because we get into literally hundreds of questions can every single symposium and we’ve only got time to get to maybe 10. You know, so there’s a lot of demand. And at the moment, we’re not meeting that demand. So what’s the next for practically is we’re going to be meeting that demand through a whole lot of things. That’s awesome.
And so now I know that my listeners because they’re all brand new Teachers, their interest is piqued so where can they get ahold of you? If they have questions?
I think the most the best way to contact Prac-E is through our website. That’s the really the One-Stop Shop everything that we do, we obviously diversify content. So our Instagram, Twitter our Facebook offers unique content to the way that you like we obviously we have our Prac-E podcast as well. And the YouTube and LinkedIn basically, you can find Prac-E on any platform that you would like in the way that you might like to engage with content. The best way to connect with everything that we’re doing is our website which is www.Prac-E.com and that’s the best way everything gets uploaded there and that’s kind of the One-Stop Shop native place where if you want anything to do with Prac-E it will be the set.
But I just want to say that if beginning teachers are out there and they just are interested, I don’t particularly want to promote Prac-E, I want to promote beginning teacher support platforms. It doesn’t have to be Prac-E. If I want to find support, then I implore them to it can be Prac-E then we will be there if they want to connect with us. But if they need something specific to look into Facebook groups, Twitter and just engage in the community and we can help with that. And don’t be afraid to ask questions and I sometimes it’s such an odd thing to feel like if that was an in person you disrupt trends and asking them questions. But online support platforms offer a way that no one’s ever communicated with before. I see it bringing value to beginning teachers every day. It can be Prac-E, it could be not, but I feel if you’re, if you are not feeling 100% of that way, you are pedagogically to reach out a lot and engage with the community. Absolutely.
Well, thank you two, for being on the podcast. I really, really appreciate it.
Awesome. Pleasure. Oh, thank you so much.
I’m sure you guys could tell that I had a great time talking to Scott and Liam. And don’t you guys wish we had something like Prac-E out here. I mean, I do my best with this podcast to provide you with as much knowledge as I can. But those symposiums sound amazing. I feel like I need to start saving up so that I can head down there and witness it myself. So here are my key takeaways from our conversation. First, don’t get too hung up on where your first teaching job will be. Liam had mentioned that there are ways to research a school and find out if it’s a good fit, but Scott then insisted that you should just apply anywhere and see what happens. You just might end up loving it, or vice versa, you know, a school that you thought was your dream school could be terrible. If you go in with an open mind, and without too many expectations, you’re less likely to be disappointed. Next, and similar to this first point, a lot of younger teachers want to live in the big city and teach in more metropolitan areas. But with that comes a unique set of challenges. Scott and Liam gave tips on how to prepare yourself for that and temper your expectations and realize that there are trade-offs regardless of which area you teach in. Finally, we spent a good amount of time talking about school culture and how to deal with toxicity. Both limits got recommend keeping your head down and staying out of gossip. And if you can’t find positive role models at your school, then reach out to online like-minded teachers, you can definitely find support where you need it in online spaces. I really want to thank Scott and Liam for being such awesome guests on the podcast and if you want to connect with them and learn more about Prac-E, I have links for you in the show notes. And if you enjoyed this and other episodes, please subscribe to the show and share it with your teacher besties so that they can benefit from it too. Thanks again for hanging out with me today and have a fabulous week