Starting off your teaching career is an exciting, yet challenging time. There is so much to do and learn: new curriculum, new classroom, and lots of names to learn. The first year will definitely have its highs and lows, but it will all be worth it! Since the first year of teaching can be such a crazy time, I have compiled a list of 5 Tips for First Year Teachers!
1. Take time in (and out of) school to get to know your team.
These are the people you will lean on and learn from over the course of the year. They know the school, kids, and administration and they can help you navigate through your first year of teaching. Ask them questions when you are unsure of something, and ask them to come observe you and give you feedback. AND go observe them! Some of the best professional development comes from observing your teammates. It is also important to get to know your co-workers outside of the classroom—grab a drink with them, ask them about their weekend, or join a skeeball league, like a few of my co-workers and I did!
2. Be nice to the school secretary!
I cannot stress this one enough! A secretary at any school (usually) runs the show—they know all the ins and outs of the school, and most times they hold the key to any classroom supplies you need! They have a tough job, so be sure to acknowledge them every once in a while. For example, the secretary at my school LOVES dark chocolate, so I make sure to get her a candy bar every few months and let her know how much I appreciate all her hard work.
3. Keep yourself organized.
The first year of teaching can be overwhelming and it is easy for a classroom to become disorganized. I suggest having you (and your students) clean up the classroom at least weekly. Make sure desks, library, shelves, etc. is picked up each week. One of the biggest organizational struggles for me was keeping my grading all together. Now, I have a file folder for each subject, and it allows me to organize all my papers and carry with me what I need.
4. Purchase a personal laminator.
I did this one a few years too late, but now that I have one, I am not looking back! I have the Scotch Thermal Laminator and I laminate everything! The more you laminate, the less work you have to do year after year. It is also not too expensive—you can purchase the laminator for $18 and the packets for $11/100 sheets.
5. Mistakes will happen—learn from them and move on.
Mistakes happen to every teachers, from your first year to your last. Whether there is an error on a homework sheet or you were a little late to a meeting, be honest with those around you, and learn from your mistake. As teachers we often strive (and expect) perfection out of ourselves, but it also okay to make mistakes, and to even fail sometimes. We are human. And don’t hide your mistakes from your students—it is important for them to see that mistakes are part of learning (a little growth mindset here).
Your first year of teaching will be an adventure! Enjoy it, and learn from it. And don’t forget, it’s okay to leave your work at school some nights/weekends, because it’s also important to take time for yourself!
Veteran Teachers! Share another tip for first year teachers in the comments below!