Navigating the UK Classroom Culture: A Guide for Overseas Candidates

Published: Tuesday March 26 2024 by Lauren Fisher

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Teaching in a UK classroom as a supply teacher can be a rewarding experience, but it also comes with its own set of challenges, especially for overseas teachers. Understanding UK classroom etiquette is crucial for ensuring a smooth and successful teaching experience. Here are some hints and tips to help you navigate the intricacies of UK classroom culture:

Dress Code:

  • Dress professionally and conservatively, avoiding any flashy or revealing attire. We would recommend that you wear business / professional attire every day unless detailed to you otherwise when you are being booked (PE Cover, etc). You are setting an example for students and also representing yourself to our schools. Please make sure you look suitable and ready for work. Personal hygiene is also important to maintain.
  • Pay attention to any specific dress code policies of the school.
  • A professional dress code means the following items are not suitable for you to wear in schools: – Trainers- Jeans of any colour- Caps/Beanie Hats- Hoodies- Leggings- Inappropriate/revealing clothing- Short skirts- Open toe shoes- Coats (these are not be worn inside the school)

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Punctuality:

  • Arrive at school and your classroom well before the start of the school day so that you can familiarise yourself with any systems and procedures. Punctuality is highly valued in UK culture and is extremely important to schools, as they will need you there in the classroom ready for the students to arrive before lessons begin.
  • You will need to take some time to familiarise yourself with the school’s behaviour policy and establish who is the Safeguarding Lead.
  • If you anticipate being late due to unforeseen circumstances, inform the school and your justteachers branch as soon as possible. When we are booking you into a school, if you are concerned about the journey/arrival time please let us know. This will prevent your booking being cancelled or any upset/confusion when you arrive. Please note that if you are very late for a booking this can result in a pay deduction  or being cancelled from the job.

Greetings and Interactions:

  • Address colleagues and students respectfully using appropriate titles (e.g., Mr., Mrs., Miss).
  • Shake hands firmly when meeting colleagues.
  • Maintain a friendly and approachable demeanour with students while also establishing clear boundaries. Please bear in mind, the students would be expecting their usual teacher and a new face can be quite unsettling to them. Engaging with these students will allow them to feel more supported and comfortable with you in the classroom.
  • Start each school day with a positive attitude to ensure you make a good impression on the school. Presenting yourself as a happy, pro-active and helpful member of staff, could result you in you securing further future work with the school.
  • It is important that you remember you are a representative of Justteachers when you are working on supply and we hope that you uphold a professional manner in all of our schools. Being able to engage well with the staff in school will be a great asset to you, as it will allow you to feel more confident asking for support and guidance.
  • Physical contact of any kind is not tolerated in any school setting, this is very important to remember. No physical contact should ever be made with a student or staff member. You cannot touch a student’s belongings nor their blazers/coats. It is absolutely unacceptable and would result in you not being invited to work at the school again, or potentially any school at all in the future.

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Day to day classroom etiquette:

  • Do not use your mobile phone in the classroom.
  • Do not eat in the classroom- you will be able to have lunch (and breaks) in the staff room- speak to other members of staff about the process if you haven’t already been made aware.

Classroom Management:

  • Familiarise yourself with the school’s behaviour policies and procedures before you even enter the classroom.
  • Consistency is key when enforcing rules and expectations, be firm but fair in your approach to discipline.
  • Use positive reinforcement to encourage good behaviour.

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Language & Communication:

  • Speak clearly and slowly, especially if English is not your first language.
  • Avoid using slang or regional dialects that may be unfamiliar to students.
  • Encourage students to ask questions and participate in discussions.
  • Use visual aids and gestures to enhance understanding, particularly for younger students or those with language barriers.
  • Foul and inappropriate language such as swearing is not tolerated in any school setting. You should be leading by example and setting poor standards can indefinitely ruin your chance within a school. Should you use swear words, you must be aware that you need to report this to either your consultant at justteachers, or to a member of staff at school. This behaviour is often picked up on by students and later reported to their regular teachers. This can stop your chances of ever working in that school again and also affect Justteachers’ relationship with our partner school.

Lesson Planning:

  • Plan engaging and interactive lessons that cater to the diverse needs of students and be prepared to adapt your teaching style based on the needs of the class.

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Safeguarding:

  • Prior to working at any school, you should be confident with your ability to handle and manage safeguarding incidents. Safeguarding can be a worrying comment made by a child to disclosure of some troubling information. Should you have ANY concerns about any student within a school, it is your responsibility to report this to their Designated Safeguarding Lead or the staff member you have been advised to report to.
  • During your initial induction at the school, you should ask them ‘Who is the designated safeguarding lead?’ and they will let you know who to go to if you have any concerns. Alternatively finding a member of the Senior leadership team to report this to is also sufficient, they will manage your report from there.

Respect for Diversity:

  • Celebrate cultural diversity within the classroom, also being sensitive to religious and cultural practices of students.
  • Avoid making assumptions based on cultural backgrounds.
  • Create an inclusive learning environment where all students feel valued and respected.

Collaborate with Colleagues:

  • Seek guidance and support from experienced teachers.
  • Collaborate with colleagues to share ideas and resources.
  • Where feasible/ appropriate attend staff meetings and training sessions to stay informed about school policies and procedures.

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Feedback and Reflection:

  • Welcome feedback from colleagues and justteachers as an opportunity for growth.
  • Reflect on your teaching practice regularly and identify areas for improvement.
  • Take advantage of professional development opportunities to enhance your skills and knowledge.

Enjoy the Experience:

  • Embrace the challenges and rewards of teaching in a different cultural context.
  • Build positive relationships with students and colleagues.
  • Take time to explore the local community and culture outside of school hours.

Teaching Teachers Overseas Classroom Education Support Training 7By familiarising yourself with UK classroom etiquette and cultural norms, you can navigate your role as a supply teacher more effectively and contribute positively to the learning environment. Remember, each classroom and school may have its own unique dynamics, so be flexible and adaptable in your approach. Best of luck in your teaching journey in the UK!

If you have any specific queries about your new teaching role in the UK with justteachers, please contact your dedicated JT consultant, who is on hand to support you and answer any questions you may have.

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