You’re about to begin your teaching career!
What do you need to know?
We have the best advice for new teachers.
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8 Pieces of Advice for New Teachers
The first year of teaching is exciting; it’s an untold story waiting to unfold.
You can set the stage for success by following these eight simple tips for your first year of teaching (and beyond).
Find a Mentor and Ask for Help
You may be brand new to the school and not know a soul, but that will change on Day 1.
Ask around, “Who is a respected teacher by both kids and colleagues?” This is the person you want as a mentor.
You may feel weird about asking a teacher to mentor you, but this is a common practice among teachers.
You need the practical wisdom of someone else in your school, who has been there and done that (and is still smiling about it).
Once you have a mentor, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Figure out what you can on your own, but don’t be ashamed to ask questions about best practices, classroom management, record keeping, etc.
Most teachers are happy to help a colleague.
And when you are a veteran teacher, pay it forward by mentoring someone else.
New teachers spend lots of time designing the perfect bulletin boards and picking out cute bins from Target, but you need to think beyond cuteness and come up with systems.
- How you’ll handle email (Hint: Create folders and set them up now!)
- How you will deal with your electronic files (Hint: Think folders again! Make one for every subject and include subfolders for specific days or lessons.)
- How you will sort papers on your desk
- How will you organize student information like “Getting to Know You” sheets and 504 plans
- How you will organize student supplies
- How you will organize your teacher desk
When you devote some thought to your organizational systems, you will save yourself time during the school year.
Of course, you will need to experiment to see what works best for you, but it’s easier to tweak an existing plan than to come up with one while you’re drowning in emails and papers.
Connect with Students, Families, and Colleagues
This piece of advice for new teachers has several different dimensions.
You want to connect with your students.
This means taking an interest in their lives and letting them know you believe in them.
Cheer their successes, feel their hurts, know their challenges, and share their joys.
You also want to connect with parents.
This begins with Meet the Teacher Night and extends to communication in general.
Pick an easy classroom newsletter template and send one home every week.
Respond to parent calls and emails in a timely fashion.
Send encouraging notes home.
Last but not least, get to know your colleagues.
Yes, you want to know your fellow teachers, but you also want to get to know your school’s janitorial staff, front office staff, and cafeteria workers.
I guarantee these relationships will help you during the school year.
Prioritize Classroom Management
You are teaching content and skills, but none of that will happen until your class is under control.
That is why you must prioritize classroom management from the first day.
We’ve got a list of classroom management strategies right here.
The nuts and bolts are these: 1) be friendly but firm and 2) be clear about expectations and consequences.
When it comes to advice for new teachers, remember that flexibility is the name of the game.
You may have a perfectly planned lesson, but the school day can be unpredictable.
Maybe you have extra time you need to fill, not enough time, or an antsy class that simply can’t sit through a spelling test at 11:45 am.
You need to be able to adapt and modify your plans when needed.
Set Reasonable Expectations and Boundaries
I hate to sound negative, but you can’t do it all (especially your first year and probably never).
This is good news!
While it is good to have goals for yourself, you need to set your expectations at a reasonable level.
Prioritize classroom management and establish your organizational systems.
Clock in and (this one is important) clock out.
Teaching will always expand to fill the container you give it, so make sure you maintain a work/life balance.
Take Care of Yourself
This one goes hand-in-hand with setting boundaries.
If you don’t set aside time for yourself, your emotional, mental, and physical health will suffer.
Plus, you may not survive the long haul as a teacher.
You must take care of yourself.
What does that look like?
Check out these self-care activities for teachers.
Remember Your “Why”
When you have a day that’s long and hard, remember why you got into teaching in the first place.
This will help you look beyond your current feelings and circumstances and take the long view.
The Best Advice for New Teachers
As a final thought, remember that every day is a chance to learn and a fresh start.
Be proactive by incorporating these 8 tips into your planning, but also give yourself grace when you make mistakes.
This year will be an incredible time of growth and personal development, for you and your students.