Tips for a First Year Teacher
Have you just landed your first teaching job? Chances are you are excited and nervous and feeling a bit in over your head. Never fear, we have some of the best advice for new teachers from teachers who have been in the trenches. The advice today comes from Liz, a High School Teacher in Indiana and Karen, a 1st Grade Teacher from Tennessee. These teachers have some amazing tips to get you started on the right foot.
First Things First
Liz also recommends developing a healthy sense of humor. “First-year fiascos abound, so learn to capitalize on them. When appropriate, laugh at your mistakes. Let your kids catch you laughing at yourself. Laughter alleviates tension while creating a fun moment for your students.” Above all, she says, be realistic. “During your first year of teaching, it’s tempting to nurture your dreams of the ideal classroom. But it’s better to make sure your expectations are realistic. Thinking about improvement is positive; dwelling on shortcomings is not,” Liz explains. “Don’t be afraid to evaluate your performance as a teacher. Focus on one area or one subject or one day at a time. If you feel overwhelmed about which area to focus on first, get input from a trusted colleague or supervisor.”
“Nowadays, although I am a seasoned teacher, I continue to ask my fellow teachers for guidance. For example, when I began a new teaching placement (which can feel like a new job entirely), I asked my new teaching partner for any suggestions she knew worked best for first graders,” Karen explains. “She had wonderful ideas that helped even a veteran teacher like me grow. In addition, I offered her ideas from my experiences; we shared ideas and each of us learned from one another. If, as a brand new teacher, you think the sharing will be a one-way street, think again,” she says. “Remember, you may be more aware of cutting-edge research and techniques than your teacher-colleagues. I, for one, am always eager to pick the brain of a new teacher for exciting and innovative teaching ideas.”
Outside the Classroom
When things get rough, as they inevitably will during your first year of teaching, remain positive. “Sometimes, despite loving your job, the road will get bumpy and you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed and a bit discouraged,” Liz says. “It’s times like these when you must resist the temptation to focus on just how bad you feel. In these moments, trying to protect yourself, defend yourself, prove yourself, or gratify yourself usually leads to regrettable responses and poor decisions. On the other hand, you can give yourself a break and begin focusing on all the positive aspects of your teaching day. Soon, your thoughts will begin supporting you again.”
Congratulations on your new position! You are going to do great!
Do you have some first year teacher questions that you need help with?
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