Surviving your first year teaching can be tough.
Today I thought I would share with you a few things I wish I’d known when I was in my first year teaching. Teaching is a rewarding profession, but at times it can be extremely challenging. Over the years I have enjoyed the opportunity to mentor a few new teachers in my school and share useful tips with them to help their first years go well. Some of these strategies I was fortunate to know early on in my career, but others took a few years to learn. Knowing them sooner would have made my life a whole lot easier so, I hope they may help you out too.
Be a Reflective Teacher
After you teach a day’s lessons, jot a quick note on the page about any lessons that went well, and ones that didn’t. Then save your lesson plans. Before planning your next unit look over the notes you’ve made. Pay attention to the types of lessons that worked well for your students, and which ones did not. Use that information to guide your next set of plans.
I know you think you will remember extremely well the lessons that went great, but its a whirlwind and sometimes by January, you forget. Also, if after you teach a lesson that went, all right but you think of a way it could have been better write that down. You can always use the idea later with a similar topic or to review a skill.
I also used my lesson plans again to start year 2. It can be very helpful to have them to look over and plan to do again lessons/units that went really well, and avoid repeating the lessons that did not go as well. My sister, Katie Marquez, is a newer teacher and I asked her about this tip and she said absolutely – but Mary well… your first year of teaching was a long time ago, and we have google drive now. Her advice she would add is to save everything to google drive in folders labeled by unit name/book. Then, if your computer crashes, or you have your computer switched on you, you still have access to those files.
You can still add comments to your plans to mark what worked well and what didn’t. Overtime instead of re-using plans, you are refining them to make your teaching better and better each year. (Curious? Jennifer Gonzales of the blog Cult of Pedagogy has a great post on google drive in the classroom.)
Set your own goals for success you first year teaching and celebrate them. In this day and age of standardized testing being the be all end all of education teachers can feel pretty trampled part way through the year. After all, Johnny finally can tie his own shoes, Marcy has made some friends, and Juan can operate the SmartBoard better than you can, and you just impressed the Principal with your amazing Excel skills in your data team meeting. None of that is on the test, but it is worthy of celebrating. Having little something to celebrate along the way can be encouraging for you and for your students.
Most first year teachers, get to work early, stay late, and bring everything home with us on the weekends. My first year of teaching I was super excited that I had a key to enter my classroom from the outside on the weekends so I could work, and boy did I use it. That’s ok for a while, but downtime is important. Researchers have found that while we rest we build long term memories, and we access creativity. Both are important for good teaching. Try as often as you can to leave work at work. Stay late to get things done if you have to, but don’t take it home. You will feel better for it. Schedule “me time” every week. Go to the movies, get out into nature, go to a museum, do what inspires you!
Know the people who run your building
Treat all the custodians, office staff, cafeteria workers, and paras extremely well. These people run the school. If you want your room really clean for your teaching observation, don’t forget the custodian’s at Christmas. Cafeteria workers have avery stressful, and thankless job in the school, a smile and compliment on the day’s menu can go a long way to making both your days go well. Paraprofessionals in your classroom are your equal; make sure they know how valuable they and their help are to you.
Don’t reinvent the wheel. My first year teaching I had the most amazing mentor teacher ever. For the first couple of months of school she just handed me her lesson plans, copies made and all, so I could focus on classroom management and getting a firm footing. I eventually paid her back by sharing my plans and copies with her, but I will never be able to thank her enough for what she did for me those first few months.
Since we can’t all have the blessing of Lynne Price as our teaching mentor, we may have to go for the next best thing, Teachers Pay Teachers. In case you haven’t heard of it, www.TeachersPayTeachers.com is on online marketplace where teachers in classrooms across the globe can buy and sell lesson resources, daily plans, organizers, whole units, … you name it really. It is a great place to get some help while you still are finding your footing. You can search by grade, subject, and CCSS standards to find what you are looking for. Most products are less than $5.00 so it can be an affordable way to get an extra hand at planning a successful first year teaching.
Need a little more inspiration inspiration? Check out these pins:
Good luck and have a great first year!
This post has been part of the sharing is caring blogging cooperative. To read more great tips for new teachers follow the links below. Have fun!