First and foremost I’d like to say congratulations and good luck on your new journey as an educator. You will encounter many trials and tribulations, but also many joys and even love. That’s right… LOVE! Be prepared to fall in love with your students… Okay, maybe not in your first year or even your second. I’ll be honest, it took me FOUR years to truly enjoy being in the classroom and to fully admit that I love my students. But that’s okay… we all have our own experiences and that makes this journey really special. So, to give you some helpful advice on what you can do to make your first year in the classroom a success, here are 10 things that you can do as a 1st year teacher.
1. Find a Mentor That You Trust and Respect
I’m sure that during student teaching you were asked to teach lessons and were given feedback and constructive criticism from a more experienced teacher. As a first year teacher, you will probably have many informal walk-throughs as a way to ensure you are given support. If that makes you nervous, find someone on your new campus that is in a leadership position or who is just an amazing teacher and support system. They can make all the difference in the world in helping you grow as a teacher AND by just helping you when you’re in the weeds.
2. Divide and Conquer
Maybe you’ve found a teaching position that involves multiple teachers teaching the same grade and subjects. This is your opportunity to divy up the planning and copying responsibilities. This will absolutely save you time and it will give you opportunities to discuss lessons and projects with your team to make sure they like what you’ve come up with. This would be ideal for you as a new teacher! Planning for all subjects alone can be overwhelming.
3. Become Besties With TeachersPayTeachers
For your sake and sanity, I hope you are provided with some type of curriculum in which to pick and choose what you think your students need. However, on TeachersPayTeachers you can find some amazing supplemental products created by other current and past teachers who know what works well in the classroom. Why not support a teacher rather than a large company? You can find clipart, powerpoint lessons, fonts, borders, task card printables, and MUCH more. My favorite part of TeachersPayTeachers is that it is easy to search for products by subject or skill and after you pay it is an instant download. Trust me, you’ll want to check it out. You can visit www.teacherspayteachers.com to drool over all of the products that you’ll want to purchase.
4. Ask for Help
You WILL at some points feel like you are drowning. Let me just say that this, unfortunately, is NORMAL for a newbie teacher. It happened to me more times than I’d like to admit. BUT I had some amazing women who understood and did whatever they needed to do to support and help me through it. Don’t feel like a failure if you need to ask for help. Being vulnerable is part of the territory. And there is such a learning curve that you just won’t know the answer to everything unless you ask.
5. Find Your Teacher Tribe
You will find yourself developing lifelong friendships that are precious and unlike any other. And it makes sense.. you are in the same profession, on the same campus, and experience ALL of the same joys and hardships. Embrace friends on your campus. Liking the people you work with on the daily is such a blessing. I’m super lucky to have such a great 2nd grade team. My hopes for you are that you enjoy your team and coworkers.
6. Ignore the Haters and Negative Nancies
Soooo I can really speak on this particular piece of advice. In the past 4 years I’ve taught 3 different grade levels, thus, getting a whole new team to work with each time I transitioned into my new position. I’ve experienced firsthand the eye rolls, negativity, and downright hatred from a teammate. I, personally, couldn’t understand why someone would be so cold. Do NOT take it personally. Perhaps they shouldn’t have gone into a profession in which they’d have to work so closely with a group of people. Or perhaps they aren’t happy teaching. Whatever the case, it is usually not your fault. You can try to befriend these types of teachers, but avoid being in negative conversations at all costs.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up About a Problem
This was super hard for me, even three years into teaching. I’m NOT an open book.. I’m more of the “sit back and observe” kind of person in a team meeting. In my third year of teaching, I could sense that something was off with my teaching team but was too afraid to just say, “Hey.. what’s going on here?” Turns out that I wasn’t turning my portion of the “divide and conquer” in at a time of their liking. But GUESS WHAT.. I thought that if I got it to them by Friday that I absolutely did my part. BUT that lack of communication put us in a bad place. Eventually we talked about how all materials and lessons need to be delivered to the team by end of the day on Wednesday. How was I to know that these ladies planned so far in advance for the next week? It was all new to me. But, in the end, we fixed the problem and I learned how to plan ahead.
8. Consider Classroom Management the Most Important
So planning procedures may seem really difficult before school starts, but talk to other teachers about their classroom procedures and management. You’ll need some type of behavior management system. No matter how you discipline, BE CONSISTENT. Have some way to track your students’ daily behavior to show parents and to keep for your files. I keep a clipboard with students’ names on it and it allows me to quickly tally when a student is acting up and I circle which rule they are breaking. This works for me, but you’ll eventually find your system.
Also consider how your classroom will look and run. For example, have procedures planned out and be prepared to teach them to your students on Day 1 and throughout Week 1. Here are some procedures you will definitely need to consider:
- Morning routines
- Where will students place their booksacks?
- Will they unpack their materials?
- Should they go to the bathroom during homeroom?
- Will they having morning work or a bell ringer?
- Pencil procedures
- Will students sharpen their own pencils?
- Will they need to turn in their dull pencil before getting a sharpened one?
- Bathroom procedures
- Can students only go during transition times?
- Can they go whenever they need to?
- Transition procedures
- Is there a certain way you want students to come to the rug?
- Do you want students to push in their chairs?
- Do you want certain tables getting up first?
- Do you need them to bring certain materials to the rug?
- Pack-Up Procedures
- Do you need to write in your students’ conduct charts?
- Do they write their own ‘A’ if they’ve received one that day?
- Do they put chairs on their desks?
- Group Work Procedures
- Class Helpers Procedures
- (I’m certain there are many more than the ones I’ve listed)
9. Find Ways to Connect To Your Students
Your students will come from all different walks of life. Some will come from well-off families who get lots of homework help at home and others will barely have meals. Understandably, those are the students who need you the most. Try to connect with your students. Ask them how their weekend was. Have them complete back-to-school questionaires so that you can find out more about them. They may not open up at first, but by the end of the school year, you’ll KNOW these kids like the back of your hand. And this leads me to the last piece of advice that I have for you..
10. Don’t Be Afraid to Love Your Students
For me during my first year of teaching, connecting with my students wasn’t so easy. I just remember trying to stay afloat. But if I had taken the time to realize that I had an amazing group of kids who deserved to be loved, perhaps I wouldn’t have been so overwhelmed. Take in those hugs and compliments and hold onto them. Don’t be afraid to LOVE your students.. because they will absolutely LOVE YOU.
Good luck on your new journey, teacher.. and welcome to one of the best professions on Earth. You’ll be amazing!
Do you have any more advice for a 1st year teacher? If so, I welcome comments below!
Tags: advice for newbie teachers, new teachers, teacher tips