It’s that time of the year – summer is rolling in, college students are soon to become graduates, and prospective teachers are smiling as they receive their very first job offer! Teaching isn’t easy – so to help make your first teaching job a successful one, here are 11 Tips for New Teachers.
1 – Get To Know Your Colleagues
There are a lot of benefits to having a strong relationship with the teachers you work with in your building. Not only will you be able to go to them with questions about managing student behavior, content questions, or even building logistics – but they can be an excellent source of support! Teaching is not an easy job. At the end of a tough day, it’s nice to know that someone near you has your back!
2 – Get To Know The Other New Teachers
Even the most empathetic returning teacher forgets what a first day, first week, or first year feels like. If there are other new teachers in your building, put in effort to get to know them! Being able to talk openly about feeling lost, failures and successes, or just someone your own age, is extremely helpful during your first year of teaching. Teaching is a collaborative profession – this is the first step to strong collaboration.
3 – Get To Know Your Union (If you have one)
Unions can fill an important role in benefiting teachers throughout their career. If your district has a union representative, take some time to get to know them. Understanding what benefits a union offers, any current issues, and even the relationship between the union, other teachers, and administration is very important.
4 – Plan Your First Week
It is a good idea, even in the summer, to plan your first week. This way, as you enter the beginning days of the school year, you already have a plan in place, and can focus on the waterfall of other demanding information. The best part about your first week, is that it doesn’t need to be focused on content! Take the time to establish your classroom procedures, get to know your students, and become comfortable with your classroom.
5 – Establish Classroom Greetings
As a new teacher, your students will be looking to see who they have as soon as they walk in the room. It’s important to determine what these first moments will look like. Will you be in the hallway, greeting students as they come in? Will you be in the room, handing out an activity? Will you be sitting behind your desk on your phone (hopefully not). Establishing a positive greeting in the first moments of your year can fast track positive relationships with your students.
6 – Set Up Your Classroom Behavior Management System
Your school will probably have a behavior management system to follow. It’s still important that you set up your own management system for your classroom! This allows you greater flexibility and agency with managing behaviors in your classroom. If a student is sent to the office for a behavior, and the next day they repeat the behavior, what then? Layer your responses to misbehavior in a hierarchy. Start with nonverbal reminders, verbal reminders, seating change, think away rooms or a reflection seat. Determine when to contact home, and when to move forward with the school’s behavior management system.
The book I found most helpful as a first year teacher in this regard, was Harry Wong and Rosemary Wong’s The First Days of School. The book gives explicit and pragmatic advice about how management and procedures might look on your very first day of school – answering many questions my university education left unanswered!
7 – Bathroom, Lunch, Drinking Fountain
Your first day and week will probably be hectic. Before your first day, find the nearest bathroom (and whether or not it is a staff bathroom). Find a drinking fountain. Find out where you will eat lunch, and where you can keep a lunch if you bring one from home. These simple tasks are often forgotten by new teachers, and make an exciting first day turn into a miserable one.
8 – Visualize and Practice
Before your first day, teach your first lesson to an empty classroom. It might seem silly, but it can help iron out some unforeseen wrinkles before you step in front of your students for the first time! Visualizing and practicing can help you recognize the cadence of your speech, pacing of the lesson, handwriting on the board, proximity to student seats, and much more! Try it – you will be pleasantly surprised!
9 – Go In Early (Or Stay Late)
This is going to be a controversial one – but I advocate new teachers to go in early or stay late, at least their first month of school. The reason I advocate for this, is because it is important that you set yourself up for success! As a new teacher, the extra time will be extremely valuable to make sure that when you leave school, you are ready and prepared for the next day. It will also help reduce feeling overwhelmed.
I also want to mention that this isn’t something you should make a habit of. It’s important that you are able to manage your job as an educator without letting it impact your personal life. Don’t become an educational martyr.
10 – Learn From Your Mistakes
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! And more importantly – learn from them! All teachers, new and old, make mistakes. You will not be able to improve if you try something new, and you’re not trying enough new things if your not making mistakes.
11 – Keep On Learning
Improving your teaching skills doesn’t stop after your first week, month, or year. Keep on seeking other resources to figure out how to improve! This is especially important for new teachers, as a few small nuggets of wisdom can be the difference between an issue that was quickly solved, or a problem that carries on throughout the whole year.
Check out the I’m a New Teacher – Now What Guide! This guide covers what to do from the time you get your first job offer, to your very first day of school!
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask
I want to end this article by letting all new teachers know – don’t be afraid to ask! If you have a problem, a question, or an issue, reach out!
My twitter is linked here – or write in the comments below! I am passionate about helping and supporting new teachers. I look forward to our conversation!