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Are you ready for 18 Helpful Tips for the First Year Teacher?
I have a Master’s Degree in education and was a school teacher for nearly 17 years. Due mainly to the pandemic, I am recently a stay-at-home mom. Good news for you! I now have more time to reflect on everything that I’ve learned and found effective as a teacher through the years.
So, to help you FIRST YEAR TEACHERS, I have created a list of effective tips (based on my experience) to assist with your first year of teaching!!!
1. Start Off with CONFIDENCE
No Matter What!!!
If you are fresh out of college, you look young!!!! That is spectacular, enjoy it – you will miss that feeling someday. Just because you look young, however or you never ran your very own classroom, does not mean you don’t know what you’re doing. Present your guidelines from day one and stand behind your methods no matter what. Parents will quickly learn to take you seriously with this approach.
2. Create “Welcome Packet”
This is CRUCIAL (for your sake especially)!!! A “Welcome Packet” may include items such as a “Getting to know your child” form, carpool/bus route information, class info. such as a classroom behavior expectations and procedures, specials (gym, art, music, etc.) schedule, content that will be taught throughout the year (ie. math multiplication), etc.
Providing this information is key. Busy life schedules may cause parents to skim school information pages and look for anything that requires a signature – especially if they have multiple children in different grade levels. Often times parents will ask questions that have already been outlined in the provided “Welcome Packet”.
If you include the items I listed (at the very least), you can politely remind parents that all the information is in their “Welcome Packet”.
3. Label, Label, Label Everything!!!!
Require students to label EVERYTHING!!!! Pencils, crayon boxes, folder, notebooks, etc. Trust me when I say this – kids will lose, misplace, etc . items every day!!!!
Additionally, I labeled everything in my classroom. Labeling keeps everything for everyone orderly.
4. Behavior Strategy
Be sure you have a classroom behavior strategy for your classroom included in your “Welcome Packet”. The guidelines should be viewable in the classroom as well.
5. Master the Art of Improvising & Be Flexible
These 2 suggestions go hand and hand. Your planned daily schedule will literally probably change every single day. There may be a fire drill, an assembly, a lesson took a bit longer than anticipated, etc. at the end of the day it really is okay that schedule changes have occurred! Be flexible and improvise schedules day to day if necessary.
6. Purchase a Good Planner
Purchasing a planner is an absolute must!
One agenda item at the start of the school year for me was the staff discussing the entire yearly calendar.
With so many dates to remember- keeping track of meeting dates, conferences, half days, guest speakers, collaboration with other grades, etc. YOU WILL NEED TO KEEP TRACK OF EVERYTHING to stay organized.
7. Save Everything You Create
As a teacher, you will be creating lesson plans, assignments, permission slips, professional development log, certifications, etc.
I suggest creating desktop folders, printing and filing, emailing to a personal email inbox, and saving to a flash drive anything that you will utilize the following year.
Also, keep track and save items that you need to keep a record of such as your own professional development or growth goals.
Teaching year to year, you will be so grateful for this tip. Once documents are saved you can always make changes the following year if necessary.
8. Invest in XXL Zip lock Bags
Inevitably you will change posters and/or bulletin boards from month to month, season to season, or if you are teaching specific content.
I suggest investing in XXL Zip Lock brand bags. They are extra large zip lock bags that have tons of room, you can label and store easily in a closet or storage container.
If you have never seen this amazing product, click the link and see what I am talking about – you will be so glad you order these for your classroom.
9. Work with Teaching Partners
Be flexible and helpful with your grade level teaching partners. Be willing to go with the flow in regards to traditions or certain assignments that are assigned “every year”.
Also, if you find a great idea or lesson share the ideas with your teaching partners. It is a win- win for everyone when grade level teaching partners work well and happily together.
10. Join Every Committee
When you start teaching there will most likely be committees or programs that you can volunteer, help, or join. DO IT! It will help you get to know the school community; you will learn more about the school environment, and students, parents, and staff will get to know you better.
Most likely your future will be busy with marriage, babies, or family life so join these types of groups when you have time without so many other likely obligations.
11. Laminate Everything you Create
If you create any helpful teaching posters, art projects, bulletin board letters etc. laminate them to ensure the stability for years of teaching.
2. Check Teacher Sites for Items for Sale
Join “Teacher Swap” type groups on platforms such as Facebook.
Current, retiring, or former teachers are always ready to sell great classroom items and teaching supplies for a bargain.
13. Fabric for Bulletin Boards
Purchase different colored fabrics that are cut to the size of classroom bulletin boards. When it is time to change the board and take the fabric down, you can simply wash and store for the next use.
14. Invest in a Day of the Week Shelf
I recommend purchasing a 5-tiered desk shelf. Label the shelves Mon- Fri. Keep this on or near your desk with any prepared worksheet copies, books, or assignments that will be planned for the week ahead.
15. Print Class List and Keep Track of Everything
Every assignment you collect (graded or not), keep a record with a class list.
If you do grade the assignment, you can keep a paper copy of scores to reference when it is time to input into a computer grading program. Doing this will be sure students are accountable for required assignments.
16. Stay Up to Date with Technology
Technology is constantly changing. Be sure to stay up to date with different forms of technology.
Also, familiarize your students with technology that may be used in the event they are learning from home.
17. Be Prepared for Virtual and/or Hybrid Teaching
In the event virtual learning is necessary, be prepared as a teacher!
At the very least, learn Zoom and Google Classroom. Be sure you will be able to email your students or parents of students from home as well.
Also, if you are aware that virtual learning will occur ,it is a good idea to send textbooks home and packets of upcoming subject matter . This will help cut back on students printing tons of copies from home.
18. It’s Okay to Ask for Help
Remember that where you teach is a community where the ultimate goal is successfully teaching your students. If you need help as a first-year teacher, ask for it!
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