Make Class Fun for the Students and Yourself
Nothing makes learning more effective than when the students are interested in the subject and eager to participate instead of staring blankly at a teacher who feels like her words are bouncing off their foreheads. So, get your kids' attention by making the class more fun. Consider developing an interactive teaching style that includes hand-on lessons and memorable learning activities. You could create a Jeopardy-style game using the material your class is working on. You could also create a "Bingo" game where you ask questions and students must find the answers on their "Bingo" cards. This is basically a multiple-choice assignment but in the form of a game instead of a worksheet. Not only will the students have more fun learning, but work will feel a lot less like "work" to you as well.
Provide Parents with Positive Feedback as Soon as Possible
No parent enjoys hearing negative comments about their children, no matter how good your intentions are. It's best to set a foundation of positivity by giving them good news about their kids as early in the school year as possible. If the first thing a parent hears from you about their child is negative, it could set an unpleasant tone in your relationship that might follow you throughout the school year. So, keep things as light as possible in the beginning. If it can be helped, save any negative feedback for a later time after you've already established a good relationship with the parents. You will eventually have to dish out some news a parent won't be happy to hear, but don't make it a habit to only inform parents of the problems with their children. Tell them about their kids' achievements in class and any strengths you observe that you would want to hear about if these were your own kids.
Develop Friendships Early On
Make friends with anyone and everyone who's a regular at the school. This includes teachers, students, custodians, secretaries, parents, and anyone else you have the chance of interacting with regularly. Help turn your workplace into a supportive, friendly environment. Be a companion to your fellow teachers. Show the students you care about their success by offering friendly advice. Smile when someone makes eye contact with you in the hallway. Any kind gesture, no matter how small, is one more step toward a more comfortable and happy work environment. Not only will this make your job more enjoyable, but you'll also have experienced people to turn to for job-related advice.
Observe Your Fellow Teachers
Whenever you get the chance to see how someone else teaches their students, be observant and take some mental notes on things you like about their different teaching styles. You can draw on those observations later and find ways to incorporate what you've learned into your own methods. If you notice students being particularly interested in a certain type of project you'd never thought of doing with your students, draw on that project for inspiration and see how something like that might fit in with your class. Don't be afraid to ask questions and get some pointers about those teaching styles either. Chances are, your fellow faculty members will appreciate your admiration of their methods and be happy to lend advice.
Organization is Key
With dozens of students depending on you to not only fill their brains with knowledge but also keep track of everything they accomplish in your class, organization will be the glue that holds it all together. Keep the files on your computer organized, keep your desk organized, and communicate with your students in a way that is organized and easy to understand. Don't just tell them what you expect on an assignment, write it on the whiteboard as a bulleted list or hand it out on a piece of paper. Kids aren't expected to have super-recall skills, so it's okay to spell things out for them and to provide visual reminders in case your explanation slips their mind. Keep the classroom as organized as possible so that you never have to waste time searching for something or shuffling through a large pile of papers on your desk. Most importantly, have an infallible method for collecting finished assignments. You never, ever want to lose track of a child's work after they've handed it in to you.
Have a Life Outside of Work
This advice indeed applies to any job, but you'd be hard-pressed to find one that surpasses teaching in its threat to take over your daily life. It's okay to spend some of your time at home grading papers and coming up with new teaching strategies or even developing that Jeopardy-style quiz you might be planning on using in class. But if you're coming home from work every single day and continuing your job at home, there's a good chance you'll be heading straight toward Burnout City. Work burnout is a serious issue that could impact your teaching abilities and affect your mental health if it goes on for too long. So, don't carry your work with you everywhere you go. Take time out to breath, to socialize with people outside of school, and to hang onto any hobbies that you enjoy.
Don't Worry About Being the "Cool" Teacher
Have fun with your students and let your personality shine through in your teaching methods, but always remember that you're the adult. Learning can be fun and teachers can relax and laugh with their students. But if a student becomes disruptive, don't be afraid to remind them who's boss. You'll likely be subjected to bad behavior on a yearly basis, so nip it in the bud as soon as it springs up. Being stern all the time might make for an uncomfortable classroom environment, but being nice all the time could be just as bad if you end up with students who mistake your kindness for timidity and believe they can walk all over you. Be nice, but always put your foot down when it's appropriate. You can be liked and respected at the same time.
Empathize with the Kids
While it is essential for your sanity to address any bad behavior from your students and to deal out the appropriate punishments whenever necessary, never forget that those kids are people too. It's easy to assume a child acting out in front of other children is looking to impress his classmates but consider the possibility that something deeper is going on in the child's life. Sometimes stepping into the hallway and speaking privately with a disruptive child about their behavior can have more of an impact than a trip to the office. Always try to see things through the student's eyes. Recognize the challenges they face and offer support and advice when you see them struggling.