First, let me say CONGRATULATIONS! You have made it! You’ve gotten through college, been accepted into a teaching position, and have started your career as a teacher. If no one has told you yet, I’m proud of you!
I know you are incredibly excited and probably equally as nervous. I know I was! I am now a retired teacher who shares my resources and experience with teachers everywhere. I have been through MANY firsts in my teaching journey, but I will always remember and cherish my first year. Through my many years in the education system, I have picked up a few things here and there that I think will be great advice for you as a new teacher.
As you are entering the world of education, you should be prepared for all things. Yes, you will have unforgettable experiences, form new friendships, and create memories you will carry with you for a lifetime. However, like anything in this world, you may encounter some rough patches of stress and frustration. My goal is to reduce this part for you! If you have the right tips and learn the secrets early on, you may just skip a few of these rough patches. 😉
Here are my survival tips for first-time teachers!
Keep your optimistic joy up! Remember the reasons why you fell in love with teaching and use that to fan the flame of your passion for those kiddos every day. Enjoy yourself, have fun, and make it a worthwhile experience for you and your students. You are a life changer! Every second those children spend with you is a moment they grow, learn, and evolve into who they will be. You might just be their inspiration!
Start good habits NOW. You probably haven’t encountered the “joys” of packing up your classroom at the end of the year or learning the best way to create an organizational system. It probably seems silly to think of this now, before your year has even begun, BUT if you start good habits early, you will be thankful later! Here are the best tips for keeping your room organized year-round and how to be prepared to pack up too!
Start creating healthy relationships with co-workers and students at the beginning of the year. One of the best ways to build relationships with your students is to set apart time every morning for SEL lessons. It will transform your classroom! I wish I had started this at the begging of my career! It would have saved me many days of frustration and a lot of time on classroom management systems.
If you haven’t heard of SEL, this is one of the most important things you will read today! Social Emotional Learning is something incredibly important that you can start in any grade or level, whether you are a math teacher, speech pathologist, or educator of any kind. It teaches lessons about behavior, responsibility, relationship building, teamwork, self-confidence, and more.
What does this have to do with your classroom? Well, suppose you set aside 5 minutes a day for these lessons. In that case, you can easily, passively, and effectively teach students critical skills that lead to healthy self-reflection and social skills. I can’t boast enough about how beneficial these lessons are! Trust me, start them early. You won’t regret it!
ALICE. I hate this has to even be a topic of discussion, but overall, it is the reality of our world. We need to prepare our students for anything, and lessons like this are well worth the time and energy.
This ALICE lesson is based on a Julia Cook book that explains in an age-appropriate and non-frightening way of what to do if they were to encounter a violent intruder. It is a week-long lesson that takes only a few minutes each day, or you can modify the lesson to fit your schedule and desired lesson plan. This lesson is vital to all classrooms, not only because of the recent news but because they can use the information they learn from this lesson in multiple situations. Such as, who they can trust, who a stranger is, what to do in a scary moment, and how to get help. Students also learn what the words evacuate, inform, lockdown, and counter mean.
Overall, this one lesson can be well worth it in the end. Being prepared and teaching your students how to be safe is one of the most important things you can teach them.
Be smart about your resources. You have an increasing amount of resources at your fingertips! Year-long math bundles for every single standard you will teach, Word work lessons, easy-to-use centers for any time of the year, and more. Utilize the resources you have available to you. Even if you don’t need them now, bookmark them and save them for later!
Teachers Pay Teachers is a great site to find everything you need year round! Look up places to find material for lessons, free time, centers, and teacher organization. Save those places and use them to your heart’s content! Don’t spend hours creating a worksheet when there may be the exact sheet your need one click away. It’s what those places are here for!
Have fun in your classroom. Be yourself. You can encourage your students to express themselves in their areas as well! Learn your students and give them outlets for the creativity and expression they need. If not, you will most likely end up with doodles during class, pencil-drawn pictures on desks, and talkative kiddos. No one likes dealing with that during education time.
So, take a few moments each day to let the kids be kids in between their work. This also gives you a break to snap out of “teacher-mode” and not get overwhelmed with a rowdy, over-worked classroom. This can be taking a 5-minute bathroom break, and while some students are utilizing this time to go to the restroom, turn on some music. Or once students get back from activities, recess, or lunch, do a quick music and movement session, read a book, or play a super short game to get the rest of those jumping bugs out of their system. This will help them return to classroom mode and focus on the next lesson.
Get all the extras. All the little things you think you won’t need. You’ll be surprised with what your room is supplied with when you first come in. So, gather things over time if you need to and fill your room with essentials and helpful things to make your teacher life easier!
These are a few of my favorite teaching items!
Every teacher NEEDS these in their survival kit! I had a drawer dedicated to sticky notes and markers. Warning: Your obsession with stickies may start soon!
Dry erase markers are an obvious DUH! Granted, most schools supply a few of these each year. However, having a variety of fun colors and different styles make a teacher’s heart happy. It’s the small things!
Are you a teacher if you don’t have a cute hand pointer?! These have so many uses and I loved my hand pointers!
Can someone say class incentives?! Yes! These are so fun! They can change each time and be a great reward system for the positive reinforcement students need.
These are great for games, centers, teamwork practices, and more! These are wonderful tools that increase engagement during active lessons!
Repeat after me: Organization is key! Find what system works for you and stick to it! These were great for paper organization for my class. You can use them for your items at your desk, student pickup and return, and art organization.
Make memories. Take pictures. Enjoy the new journey you have set before you and worked so hard for. Each year will bring a new group of students who will become your little kiddos. You’ll invest so much effort, time, money, and love into them. Make it special and remember, you can never be too extra when it comes to experiences! So, put that glitter on the floor on St. Patrick’s day. Sing the birthday song to each student. Create a photo album for each student for their memorabilia box (the parent will thank you for this one!). Be the best you can be. It will be worth it!
You’ve got this, new teacher! Go have fun!
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