I am a Junior Teacher- how can I help?

numeracy leaders teachers Aug 03, 2022

When I was a classroom teacher, most of my teaching was in the junior grades. I spent many years in a Year 1/2 composite class and I loved every minute (for the record Year 1 is still my favourite year level to teach).

Imposter Syndrome

When I took on the role of numeracy leader for my school, I felt a little imposter syndrome creep in. I felt the Year 3-6 teachers would be thinking “what would you know, you are a Junior teacher” (the reality was they were most likely not thinking this, but an anxious brain sometimes get carried away with self-sabotaging thoughts!).

Since working with many Numeracy Leaders over the years, I have discovered that this is a very common concern. Often, we see ourselves as a ‘Junior’ or ‘Senior’ teacher, and feel out of our comfort zone when we work with teachers from a different area in the school.

The truth is...

The truth is you don’t need to be an expert in teaching a particular year level to be able to lead teachers in these grades. As teachers we have so many skills that are transferrable. All you need to do is tune into these skills and apply them in your leadership.

You have a lot to offer in terms of knowledge from the year levels that you've taught. As a junior teacher, you can really guide the senior teachers on how they can support their low students. For example, you have worked closely with students learning part-part-whole. You have seen students go through the process of being introduced to place value. You have access to activities, games and resources that can help these students. You can also share the importance of using concrete materials to introduce concepts. I guarantee there are students in Year 3-6 who are also struggling with these concepts, however perhaps the senior teachers are not as confident in dealing with such issues. You bring a unique and important perspective that is important to share.  

If your experience was in the Senior School...

In the same way, if your expertise is in the senior year levels, you can help teachers by providing ideas on ways to extend their students, you can share observations of problems you have noticed and help the Junior teachers to see the importance of their foundational work. For example, it wasn’t until I was in the Senior classes that I noticed the lack of progress made in whole number place value compared to in the Junior Years. This led me to encourage the Junior teachers to go deeper with their work on place value, and help the senior teachers to ensure they were continuing to embed whole number place value in their teaching.

Being a leader...

Being a leader does not mean you have to be able to expertly teach every year level in maths. No one is an expert at teaching every year level. We all have different areas, different strengths. 

Leadership is about guiding and providing another perspective (often a ‘big picture’ perspective). It's about providing your teachers with support, and being comfortable saying: ‘I'm not sure, but I'll go and find something to help you’. 

So rather than viewing your lack of experience in a particular year level as a negative, switch it around and view it as a positive, fresh perspective that you can bring to planning. 


Want to learn more from Dr Ange Rogers? Click here to find out about her 'Quality Place Value Assessment in Years 3-6 Mini Course'

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