First Year Teacher Tips
The first year of teaching is an exciting time! I know you have many questions and
concerns about this time in your professional life. All teachers have been in your place!
Below you will find tips from teachers, links, and books that will help make your first year a great one.
Enjoy this time of learning!
Click on a book to learn more about it!
Your First Year As an
Elementary School Teacher :
Making the Transition
from Total Novice to Successful Professional
A First-Year Teacher's Guidebook, 2nd Ed.
Survival Kit: Ready-
To-Use Strategies, Tools & Activities for
Meeting the Challenges of Each School Day
Educating Esme : Diary of a Teacher's First Year
The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher
My Tips To You!
A compiled list from the teachersnet chatboards and various rings.
Beginning Teachers Chatboard
Student Teaching ChatBoard
These two boards are perfect places for new teachers to visit daily. I suggest you click on a link above and bookmark the two sites.
I keep my eyes open for various topics being discussed on mailrings and chatboards. Then I compile the ideas to a page. It is so nice to have many ideas in one place. New ideas are added often.
Many thanks to the teachers that have shared their ideas. So many teachers have wonderful hearts!
Posted by Amanda on 6/18/02
Congratulations on your new job! I just finished my first year of teaching, and what a year it was! Here are some
thoughts from my own experiences:
- be flexible!!!!! Schedules and lesson plans are a must, but be ready to switch things around at the last minute
because of an unannounced assembly or fire drill, or other unexpected event.
- always have in your filing cabinet three or four filler activities all ready copied for the class- this has been a
lifesaver for me whenever one of those unexpected events occured. That way you're not scrambling around
thinking, "now what am I going to do with them?!"
-develop good relationships with all faculty members. When you eat lunch, don't just sit with your grade level. I made
sure that at some point early in the year I dropped by each teachers' classroom just to chat. By the end of the year I
felt comfortable going to anyone of them for help and advice-it created a great support system. This also opened the
door for some valuable class interaction- we had first grade buddies that we read to weekly and did art projects with- it
was so much fun!! It will also help me this next year as I am changing grades, I already have a good rapport with my
new grade team.
-early on establish good relationships with parents. Make sure you keep in touch with them through notes or phone
calls. Just a brief note, once a month, to each parent telling them something positive that you've notice about their child will go a long way. And if you make a goal of 5-6 notes a week it shouldn't be at all time-consuming. If
you notice a problem with a student, immediately voice your concern to the parent- don't be afraid (I know I was the first few times), most of them really appreciate it, and you won't hear the angry phrase "Why didn't I know about this before?"-sometimes parents will get angry at you, even if you're following school policy, doing everything right. It's not fair- but stay calm, polite, and respectful. After they are gone, or have hung up, I would let the principal know what has happened so that he or she can back you up if the parent
should complain. Then, find a quiet spot and get yourself together- cry if you need to, vent to a friend. If this kind of situation arises during a time when you've got students, this is when it's great to whip out one of those filler activities and a supportive faculty member keep an eye on your class.
-be willing to share what you have. As first year teachers, we don't have a lot, but we do have some new ideas, resources, or even talents that other teachers might be interested in. Sometimes, although I was new, I'd have veteran teachers coming in to ME saying, "I've got half an hour to fill, do you have anything for me, Amanda?"
-watch what you say, where you say it, and to whom you say it to. Whether you're in the faculty room, the hallway, or even your own classroom,especially as a first year teacher, be diplomatic when expressing your thoughts or opinions.-there is so much more but not enough time to write it, but
a few last thoughts: Have fun, use your sense of humor, be confident in yourself and your abilities, it's okay to make mistakes- they are valuable learning experiences, show enthusiam for what you are teaching. and finally,enjoy your class- there is something to love in even the most difficult child. I wish you the best of luck next year!!
Teaching is the best job in the world! Caution: It will take every moment of your time if you let it! If you spend every minute of every day immersed in your classroom you'll still have a list a mile long of things you could do! A realistic goal is to enjoy every minute of school AND to have a life beyond teaching! Don't spend every weekend and evening doing school stuff. Set aside time each week to do some of the things that you truly enjoy. I guarantee that if you put yourself first by making some time for yourself, you'll be a better teacher! You'll be refreshed and energized. Relax and enjoy the summer! Have a wonderful first year!
Something that came as a bit of a surprise to me (although now I laugh to think I didn't realize this) is that a teacher's work is never done. You will never have everything on your to do list crossed off! So, the key is to prioritize, do what you absolutely need to each day, and a little extra if you have time, and call it good. Like the previous poster said, make sure you have a life outside work, or it may consume you. Good luck with your first year. I just finished my 3rd full year, and am loving it! It just keeps getting better.........
Go ahead and be intense and obsessed for the first year if that's the type of person you are. I spent every waking minute (from 4:30 am to 12 midnight) thinking about teaching. I read a zillion books on classroom management, wrote lesson plans and had detailed notes on what I wanted to say each day, to each class and in what order.... I lost 10 pounds :-) and my house was a wreck. I took time out to feed my kids and kiss my husband. I wrote personal notes on kids homework, bellwork and journals. I made jeopardy games and vocabulary wheels and study guides with clip art. I was determined not to screw up my 8th graders only year as 8th graders (even though they had a 1st year teacher.) I can look back and say I did the best I could.
I'm glad I did it. I'll be a little less intense next year! At 104 lbs I don't want to loose another 10 lbs. I don't resent the time I spent. It didn't make me stressed out. In fact, feeling like I was not prepared made me feel more stressed.
I'm spending the summer re-inventing my curriculum. I'm going to walk in the door with centers for independent learning for both science and social studies and my classroom procedures are going to be much better so I can start teaching them from day 1.
Just the 2 cents from a workaholic who loved her first year!
Posted by Stacy on 6/13/02
- 1. Learn about your school district and how your school runs. Every school has acronyms for specials, programs and paperwork. Don't be afraid to ask another teacher for help figuring all this out. You can't possibly know how a referral for special services is handled, how you get forms to get a bus for a field trip, etc. Finding all this out will make the first year go smoother.
- 2. Along with this goes making the school secretary and the custodian your best friends. They actually run the school and can get you lots of good stuff like bookcases and extra paper. They are both very busy at the beginning of the year so try not to bother them too much at first ; )
- 3. Just teach the basic program. You cannot possibly have a jillion centers up and running, thousands of books in your classroom library, individualized programs...just do the basics very well and learn your core curriculum.
- 4. Always communicate with parents. Be positive and share your successes. Parents can be difficult for a new teacher. You will learn with time how to include them and yet not let them try to dictate what you do in the room.
- 5. Overplan for the first week. Know how to get your kids through the cafeteria line and where to go for recess. It's the little stuff that will overwhelm you. Have procedures for EVERYTHING in place.
- 6. You are a professional teacher! Be proud and have fun. This is a rewarding and challenging career, one where you never stop learning.
Posted by Pam/Ga/1 on 6/14/02
Along with everything that the others have said, your #1 goal for your first year should be to make it to your second year! Realize that we lose many teachers in the first couple of years of teaching. This is why there is a teacher shortage. There are more than enough graduates of teacher credential programs to provide us with all that we would ever need. However, between the first day of student teaching and the end of the second year of teaching we lose many of them, either from not ever starting to teach or from giving up teaching.
Your goal is to provide an enriched learning environment *and* to provide yourself with a life outside of school. Doing that will get you much closer to that second year.
Speaking from experience, one of the situations a new teacher bumps into rather quickly is the old guard vs the new upstarts. In staff meetings, don't try to jump in too quickly with sayings like "I think we should try this." Spend much time listening and then when asked, express your opinion and reason(s) for it. Make an effort to become part of the team. You will find that change sometimes takes longer than you wish. It is much better to have support for an idea than unspoken resistancethat could undermine its success.
Don't hesitate to ask the old timers for help, suggestions and recommendations. Most of them love to offer advice based on experience to help you develop methods that will work best for you.
Here is my best advice. I have been teaching for 3 years now. I am just finishing my 3rd year. I would get into your classroom ASAP and get it decorated the way you want it. There will be NO extra time during pre-planning with meetings, etc. I usually go in 2-3 weeks before school starts and get my room done. That way, all I have to do is name tags and things that require their names. Also, familiarize yourself with the curriculum. I was not fortunate to get this chance. Take home the teacher's guides to your textbooks and learn them. Learn where the special area classes are around your school. Learn who your teammates will be. Make yourself a plan about how your class will be run. Talk to other teachers on your grade level and get their advice about how they teach. That helped me. I was only hired 1 week prior to pre-planning. I had NO time to do anything and was playing catch-up all year. It was rough. If you have the chance to get in your room early, do it. Best of luck to you in your first year. It's a wild ride, but you will come through with so many ideas and a lots stronger.
I just finished my first year and here are some things I found helpful:
1) If you have not done so, read The First Days of School by Harry Wong and really think about the kinds of rules you want and the procedures you need to teach (the book has a list of suggested ones). Since I teach 1st I keep rules pretty simple.
Raise your hand before talking
Be kind to others
Be a responsible student
Follow the Golden Rule (Treat others as you want to be treated)
I usually read a book about rules the first day of school first and then we talk about why they are important. I spend about 2 weeks teaching and reviewing procedures and doing very basic curriculum stuff.
2) Get your teacher guides and start looking through them. Get an idea of what you need to cover by lookig at them and at district curriculum guides. Start looking for book titles that tie into things you will be teaching. Write the titles on post-it notes and put it in the teaching guide on the pages of the unit you will use the book with. Note if the book is yours or a library book, same with videos, art projects, etc. Start files of ideas for each subject area or unit.
3) If you have not started to already, begin collecting books for a classroom library. Check on garage sales for deals. Also look for board games and recess equipment you can use. Most schools don't supply that.
4)Don't try to do everything your first year or you will drive yourself crazy. Pick one curriculum area to really focus on and buuild from there after your first year. For me, I focused on reading this year. I learned about different assessment tools, created a system for anectdotal note taking, and really learned a lot about guided reading. Next year, I am focusing on math and linking it to reading and writing.
Oh my gosh...the things you don't know that you don't know will amaze you! SO FOCUS on what you do know you don't know! Does that make sense? I think you have to be very assertive the first year. I started a few days after the school year started, and then didn't actually get my class until the 3rd week (long story), but I was amazed at how little information I got when I first arrived. The principal pointed me in the direction of my "classroom" (which I had to make myself from an open concept building) and said "let me know what you need." I was stunned. No introductions, no school handbook, nothing. I kept waiting for someone to come up and give me info, but unless I asked, I never knew I was supposed to ask. SO think up things ahead of time, and hopefully you'll walk into a great situation where you won't have to...
1) Where are all the forms located--to get subs, to plan field trips, permission slips, expense accounts, order forms, duty rosters, etc...
2) Ask if there is a procedure book somewhere for filling out all the above, and if not, ask and write down what the procedures are before you need them. Find out who you turn forms into, and the time needed to process them. How are field trips funded--how many can you take--are there required ones at each grade level (so you don't step on your new colleagues toes...)?
3) Ask about your budget--now and what might be available later in the year. Ask what supplies are supplied through the office or administration. One school gave me basic office supplies, one made it come out of MY budget--even rubber bands and paper clips.4) Ask if there are local grant opportunities that will come up and how and if you can apply for them?5) Ask for any codes/passwords you might need--computers and programs sometimes all have different ones. School buildings have security systems/copiers do too! 6) Ask if there are procedures for signing out other media--library/cameras/vcrs/science or other equipment.
Honestly, I can't even begin to start listing all the things that drove me nuts in the first semester of this year. But I am so happy to have made it through, and now can really look forward to the second year. Most of all, CONGRATULATIONS and good luck on the coming year.
Posted by Terry/IN on 5/13/02
|http://www.positiveparenting.com/jane4.html Great Expectations: Helpful Hints for Beginning Teachers||What to Expect Your First Year of Teaching|
|Managing Student Conduct Some very useful tips on how to do this||Working With Parents|
|Be Prepared For Your First Evaluation||People you need to know to make your first years easier.|
Lots of lists for topics such as birthdays, inexpensive rewards, class helpers, and educational games.
|The Best Books For Your Classroom|
|What to Expect Your First Year of Teaching- (DOE copy)||Free Lesson Plans for New Teachers|
Share Some Pointers
that will ensure a successful first year and a successful career.
|101 Things For the First Three Weeks of School: This site offers tips on how to organize a class and approach instruction at the beginning of school. Although geared to a college classroom, many tips are applicable to the K-12 setting|
|27 tips for starting the year off right||First Days of School: The first few days of a new year can be hectic and stressful. Read what your colleagues do to make life a little easier in the beginning of the year.|
|12 tips for communicating with parents||11 tips about homework|
|Advice from Harry Wong||Connect with beginning Teachers Here!|
|Ten Tips for Student Teachers||Educating
Esme : Diary of a Teacher's First Year
Year As an Elementary School Teacher : Making the
Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional
Click here to learn more about a must have for new and student teachers!
Teaching is a Work of Heart