Yay! You worked hard and got your first teaching position. Congratulations! Now the real work begins. Check out these tips on how to survive and thrive in your first year of teaching.
A – Attendance: It may sound silly, but don’t forget to do attendance every day. You don’t want to freak out a parent with an automated call home that their child is absent. You also don’t want to aggravate the secretary.
B – Breakfast: Make sure to eat breakfast every day. It will fuel your morning and keep your energy up.
C – Coffee: If you don’t like coffee, learn to like it. It will help you through those endless meetings.
D – Donations: Don’t spend all your hard-earned money on supplies. Ask for donations from families. They are usually more than happy to supply items that you need.
E – Expectations: Make your expectations known to your students and their parents from the beginning. Put them in writing. If you make these known immediately, parents (and students) can’t come back and say, “I never knew that.”
F – Friend: Be sure to make friends with the custodian and the secretary. They can help you out in so many ways that you don’t even realize yet.
G – Group: When you group students together, be sure to put thought into it. You don’t want, for instance, all the talkers in one group and all the quiet students in another group. There are ways to strategically group students and other ways to randomly group students. Choose your method wisely.
H – Homework: Don’t assign too much homework because then it will not get done. Assign just enough that your students will get practice in skills they have learned, but not too much that they will skip it altogether.
I – Invite: Be sure to invite parents to volunteer in the classroom. It can be on a limited basis, but they love to see what their children are experiencing each day. Library helpers is a great volunteering opportunity.
J – Joy: Always choose joy in all situations. It will make things more positive in your teaching career and your personal life. Look for the joy in all things.
K – Kindness: Even if other staff members or students’ parents find things to call you on, show them kindness and the situation will remedy itself.
L – Laugh: Laughing will get you through many difficult situations. Don’t forget to laugh!
M – Math: Don’t forget to work math into your daily calendar routine. You will be able to cover many of your grade’s standards by covering them during calendar time.
N – Needs: Don’t ignore your needs. If you aren’t feeling well, call in sick. If you need quiet time, eat lunch in your room. If you don’t want visitors, close your door. Put your needs first.
O – Organization: You MUST be organized from the first day of school. Once you lose your organization, everything gets more difficult. Figure out an organization method that works for you and stick with it.
P – Pal: Be sure to have at least one teaching pal at school who you can talk to, vent to and who has your back no matter what.
Q – Quiet: Be sure to decide on a quiet symbol or method and teach it the first day. Use a chime. Count down from 5. Clap a pattern. Whatever you decide, make sure to teach it to your class early.
R – Rest: Don’t burn the candle on both ends. Be sure to get enough rest at night and on weekends. If you are constantly tired, you will burn out quickly.
S – Self-care: I cannot stress this enough. Make time for self-care: workout classes, yoga, meditation, pedicures, massages, time with friends, etc. It is of the utmost importance to take care of yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
T - Take Care: Take are of yourself. Refer to S :)
U – Umbrella: Always have an umbrella in your classroom. You never know when you’ll need one after school to walk students out to dismissal, to walk to your car or if you have a fire drill on a rainy day. If you bring it to your car, don’t forget to bring it back to the classroom the next day.
V – Volunteer: You can volunteer for committees that you are interested in, but don’t spread yourself too thin. It looks great on the resume and is great for recertification, but you only have so much time to get all your work completed. Schedule time wisely.
W – Weather: Try to get your students outside no matter the weather. Sometimes indoor recess can’t be avoided, but if at all possible, get them outside. Fresh air and movement will do so much for their attention and energy. A little snow never hurt anyone.
X – Xerox: Learn all the tricks on your Xerox machine/copier. You never know when you’ll need to make double sided papers or to put 2 full size sheets onto one side of a sheet of paper. Don’t get me started on the staple and hole punching features.
Y – Yelling: Yelling doesn’t work…try whispering to get your students’ attention.
Z – Zip: If you work with young children, make sure that they know how to zip their own jackets. It will make your life so much easier. Celebrate their zipping skills by having a zipper club.
There are many other things that are so important for teachers no matter how many years they have been teaching. As you move through your teaching career, you will quickly learn what works and what doesn’t. You may see the most adorable idea online, but just remember…it doesn’t always work like it does in the pictures. The students in the pictures may be one of 6 students in a private school class. Or the teacher may have multiple assistants to help out. Be sure to take on things that you are capable of having success with and then add on from there as you become more experienced. Even teachers who teach for years have lessons that are flops. Don’t let it discourage you. Every day is a clean slate!