First year teachers, gather around and take these tips to heart! I have gathered 5 things I wish I’d known my first year teaching to share with you – I hope this simple piece of advice makes your school year that much better!
IT GETS EASIER
I’ll be honest, the first year of teaching can be very hard. You are juggling classroom management, curriculum, engaging lessons, and finding a little time for a social life (what’s that?!) College courses and professional development will never be able to fully prepare you for the first day in a classroom with a room full of tiny humans looking to you for all of the answers. Did I mention you may want to invest in epsom salts because there is no “I’m tired and my feet are killing me” quite like the first week of teaching? I want to paint a realistic image for you instead of a canvas of rainbows, so I’m telling you the first year is hard, but trust me…IT GETS EASIER.
You will learn what works for you, adjust to hours on your feet, and find JOY in small moments. Teaching is one of the most rewarding jobs on the planet. You will feel like a rockstar teacher in no time. On days when it feels impossible, I want you to know that you are doing a GREAT JOB. This WILL get easier!
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH POSITIVITY
In my years as a teacher, I learned how important it is to surround yourself with positive teachers that LOVE their jobs. Every occupation has people that seem to have a negative comment about everything. It is easy to find veteran teaching that have been at this a long time and just love to tell stories that could possibly scare you away from teaching completely. We have all heard about that teacher down the hall’s nightmare year with “THAT ” class that has haunted him/her for their teaching career.
Even the slightest negativity can seep in and cloud your judgement or just put a damper on your days. My first year teaching, I wish I had known to take the negative comments with a grain of salt. Surround yourself with like-minded teachers who are excited to be at work every day and share their creativity. Start your day in a calm, positive way that makes you feel good. When you notice negativity creeping in around you, take a deep breath and remind yourself of something you are thankful for.
PRO TIP: There is a difference between negativity and a true problem. I’m referring to teachers around you that seem to have an Eeyore point of view about everything and everyone. If there is something that is truly bothering you at your school, please speak up to your administration and let them know how you are feeling.
PREPARE BEFORE INSERVICE
Another tip that starts the year off smoothly is to prepare your classroom early rather than waiting until the week of inservice. Usually each school will have a period of time before school starts when teachers will have professional development, meetings, and time in their classrooms. If possible, I always made a point to start going to my classroom a little before this to complete my bulletin boards, organize stations, and prepare my classroom for the year.
During inservice, you don’t know how much time will actually be allotted to working in your classrooms, so pressure is on! Inservice is also a time when teachers like to socialize with each other and catch up on their adventures from summer break. When you leave classroom preparation for inservice week, you aren’t able to fully soak in the professional development or enjoy socializing with teammates because classroom prep is on the brain! If you spend time in your classroom early it may cut summer a little bit short, but will be worth it in the long run. This will save yourself stress right before the first day of school!
PRO TIP: If you are NOT able to get into your classroom early, start planning! Make a list of items you need. Plan your bulletin board and stations. Then you will be ready when you are able to get into your room!
Need ideas on how to prep for back to school? Check out this blog article from Tickled Pink in Primary!
BE YOURSELF – COMPARISON STEALS YOUR JOY
As a teacher, it is easy to look around at other classrooms and start comparing your room to other rooms. The same goes for teaching styles. While it is great to look at other teachers and their classrooms for inspiration, ideas, and strategies there is a fine line between growing as an educator and placing competitive pressure on yourself. Comparison will ALWAYS steal your joy. Find what works best in your classroom. What are your strengths and how do these benefit your students? Find confidence in who you are as a teacher. As you continue to grow and discover new ideas from colleagues, remember to not let that escalate to comparison.
Planning lessons week to week is a lot like living paycheck to paycheck, sure it gets the job done, but wouldn’t life be a little less stressful if you knew you had a nest-egg of security? I spent many Saturdays as a teacher planning lessons for the following week. Having that small task hang over your head on the weekends will put a damper on your free time (which we all know is limited as a teacher.)
Putting in some extra time at the beginning to get a week or two (at least) ahead in lesson planning really makes all the difference! As a teacher, things are always changing and lessons need to be flexible, but making a quick change here or there rather than spending hours of your Saturday planning from scratch is “easy peasy lemon squeezy” as my Kindergarteners would say!