Your first year teaching a new course or first time teaching ever is the hardest year of your life! You want to be the perfect teacher, perfect role model, and best teacher of your craft. Newsflash— There is no perfect teacher!
Some advice I have is to start each day fresh, and try to make each day a little bit better than the day before. Here are some tips for new teachers:
Tip 1: Read a good book
I highly recommend reading the book Teach Like a Pirate. I have met the author, Dave Burgess, on numerous occasions and his approach to teaching is uplifting and innovative. It will get you excited to get into the classroom and help you think out of the box about teaching and learning.
I also love the book Hacking School Discipline by Nathan Maynard. He writes about how we can instill empathy in our schools. The book focuses on key things new teachers need to know such as reducing repeated negative behaviors (yes they will occur), building empathy, improving communication, and getting students and teachers to critically think and reflect on student behavior.
Tip 2: Don’t be afraid to play games in class
Socrative gives immediate feedback, which is a vital part of the learning process. Socrative gives you just that for the classroom– an efficient way to monitor and evaluate learning that saves time for educators while delivering fun and engaging interactions for learners. Here’s a great post about how to start with Socrative.
Quizlet Live is an engaging game you can use in your classes to help students learn. Students work in teams to correctly match the terms and definitions from study sets. Quizlet Live is free to all teachers who have an account, and Quizlet Teacher subscribers have access to additional features and customization options.
Tip 3: Don’t take work home
I spent way too many hours at school for my first few years and then went home to do work until very late at night. I am shocked I didn’t get burnt out in my first year teaching. I felt like I had a limited social life and my relationships suffered. I learned very quickly that I needed to keep work at work and school at school.
How did I do that? I often get to work early in the morning (no one is there, which means I can be super productive) and I will stay at school for an extra 30 minutes. I don’t take work home. I also don’t respond to emails on the weekends. That changed with the pandemic, obviously!
Tip 4: Stay Organized
Teacher organization is a must-have in education. I consider myself a highly organized person, possibly due to my mother, but I see many students and teachers who have not mastered that vital art! These are a few tricks of the trade that I learned teaching the past 13 years. Incorporating technology into daily instruction is one way in which teachers can leverage more time, restructure learning activities so they become more meaningful and provide opportunities for more rigorous instruction. Digital tools can be seamlessly integrated into the curriculum to save teachers time and enhance learning time. Some teachers have a hard time envisioning how digital products can be enhanced into classroom instruction.
Tip 5: Don’t be afraid to use the teacher’s eye
You will perfect this and don’t be afraid to use proximity when a student is doing a behavior you don’t like. Sometimes all you need to do is stand next to the student and they will often change their behavior. Never embarrass the kid!
Tip 6: Enjoy the little things…
My first year my teaching mentor told me to “Keep a file folder where it’s easy to reach and call it your happy folder.” Use it to hold notes of appreciation, drawings, emails, and love from students, parents, colleagues, and friends. Look through those notes whenever you need a pick-me-up.
Sometimes the simplest of ideas can make all the difference. Each of the items that I placed in the folder has special meaning to me and last week when I opened it, it reminded me of why I show up to work each day and why I love teaching. It will make your tough days so much better and easier.
Tip 7: Connect with your PLC Connect with a professional learning community! It doesn’t matter where; either onTwitter, Facebook, or in person. The single best thing I ever did for my career was joining twitter and joining #sschat. #sschat is a network of educators, resources, and ideas that started on Twitter but has expanded to Facebook, an annual NCSS “unconference”, and more. Join us to chat asynchronously on Twitter or Facebook, or chat with us live on Mondays from 7-8 pm EST.
Tip 8: Don’t be afraid to smile. Contradictory to Harry Wong’s book, The First Days of School, don’t be afraid to smile and show your personality. Bring your personality into the classroom. If you love comic books , teach history through comics. If you love legos, bring them into the classroom. The single best thing you can do for your teaching is to show your students that you are a human and let them see your interesting personality.
Tip 9: Embrace the Unexpected
Teaching never goes according to plan. Embrace the unexpected. Your lesson plans will not work out, kids will mess up, a pandemic will happen, and yet you will have more good days than bad. Embrace the days where you learn from your mistakes and it will make you a better teacher. I am now in my 14th year teaching and I feel like I want to sing the song Don’t Blink. It will be the slowest and fastest year of your life.
Welcome to the teaching profession! It will surely be a wild ride 🙂
My favorite Products I use in the classroom:
- My favorite planner helps to keep me organized throughout the year!
- I love these teacher stamps when grading!
- This is my pencil bag.
- I use this to stay organized with my to-do lists!
- I use these for station work if I don’t want to laminate.
- This is my paper grade book.
- I love this shirt for the first day of school.
- I love this voting shirt when I teach about our government.
- My favorite coffee for back to school!
- I go through so many of these!