Advice for ECTs (and anyone else)

By William Barron de Burgh posted 18-08-2022 09:54

Hello everyone.  Are you training to teach or working your way through the ECT programme? This blog is for you! (and anyone else who would like some fresh ideas).  There are more on this website:

...and share your advice and tips in the Early Careers Club (11-19)!

Updated advice for trainees, ECTs, and anyone else who may feel a little lost or wish to prepare for the year ahead.

First Lessons

If you’re wondering how to start your first lesson with a class, watch this. There are clear expectations, commitment and a firm approach. Of course, my approach doesn’t match exactly for example I don’t give a list of rules nor would I do that starter task. However, I found this video years ago and although a little dated I can’t find a better one of a teacher starting a class’s first lesson. In addition, I’d suggest you talk and explain near every action you take. E.g. When I stand here [point] at the front I expect silence and you to be looking at me. And so on. I’ve often found experienced teachers talk a lot more in the first lesson than other lessons. Here is a follow-up video about that class here.

A more detailed blog post on First Lessons can be accessed here

I have tried not to delve far into the pedagogy. My opinion (perhaps controversial) is that subject knowledge comes first. Your school won’t be expecting a finished model. Your school will provide professional development and this should focus on the wider pedagogy. If not there are always CPD opportunities and support shared on Twitter.

Lesson Structure

If you must think about lessons. Explanations are paramount. My lessons roughly consist of demonstrate, explain, check and question throughout.

A good model for a lesson is shown here with a clear outline of a lesson including explanations and checks.

Subject knowledge (Science focused)

Explanations are paramount in teaching. To be able to explain something well the first step is to understand it and the second is to be able to unravel it for pupils. To enable this there are lots of opportunities and ways to improve your subject knowledge. Here are a few

  • Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) offers online CPD for Chemistry teachers (free until August 2022)
  • Association of Science Education (ASE) offers events and CPD
  • SenecaLearning is a great way to brush up on your KS3, GCSE, or A-level knowledge and also offers a wide range of teacher CPD.
  • Institute of Physics (IOP) offers CPD.
  • STEM Learning offers online CPD

Lessons & Resources (Science focused)

At this stage, you don’t know your classes or expectations which makes lesson planning very very hard. I suggest collating and curating a bank of resources or links so when you do find this out you are able to quickly find resources to match. Fantastic sources of resources include

  • RSC’s Education in Chemistry (EiC) website and resources for chemistry are extensive, to say the least.
  • IOP’s Spark offers lots of great physics resources
  • Nuffield provides lots of support much of this is now integrated into the RSC, IOP, RSB, and so on. Links to these can be found here.
  • STEM Learning has thousands of resources although I do find it’s like walking into a massive library and not knowing where to start. However, if you want to have a good explore or are struggling to find something then it’s perfect.
  • Science and plants for schools (SAPS)’s resources are a must if you’re teaching plants but goes far beyond too.
  • Royal Society of Biology (RSB) for biology resources.

There are lots of very generous teachers on Twitter who happily share their resources including PowerPoints, worksheets, booklets, and much more for free. There is a (now old) thread below linking to many of them. Click and read the replies link to many of them.

Whilst searching and using these resources I’d suggest you abide by the following:
1. Don’t expect perfection. Everyone makes mistakes.
2. Don’t ask for answers.
3. Don’t demand access or more. Ask politely.
4. Say thank you. Everyone likes to be appreciated.
5. If you don’t like it, don’t use it.


Ignore the doomsayers. For those saying “it’s the hardest year of your teaching career”: Of course it is! You’ll get better with experience, one would hope so at least. It doesn’t mean you won’t be good the first time. You’ll make mistakes and improve as one does with any task or job. Ask for support or advice.

If your school hasn’t given much information or a timetable, don’t worry. Nothing has changed, you still have a job. Some schools will email. Check junk mail! Some won’t want to panic you or are busy tackling the challenges of running a school.

Remember, they need you. It’s in their interest to make you succeed.


Twitter offers fantastic opportunities. It connects you with other teachers, provides resources (often for free), highlights CPD (continuing professional development) opportunities and if you ever have a question there’s a plethora of professionals happy to answer.

Although, I’m sad to say I believe the era of mass resource production and sharing is currently at a low. I’m hopeful this will improve but don’t know when it will

Feel free to follow me @WRBdB – I usually follow back if it’s clear you’re a Science teacher and your posts reflect that.

Good luck with the year ahead.

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19-08-2022 09:43

Love this post even though I am a KS1 teacher. Thank you very much.

19-08-2022 07:08

This is a perfect cheat sheet for new teachers/trainees! Love it!