You just landed your first teaching job, congratulations! Mixed in with the excitement, glue sticks, and lesson plans lies nerves and apprehension. However overwhelming the first day jitters may be, these 10 tips will help make your first year of teaching a little easier.
1. Find Positive, Passionate Mentors
There are so many things to learn when you start a new job. The first, if you haven’t already done so, is to find a mentor. It doesn’t matter what their position is—be it a fellow teacher, school secretary, or the bookkeeper. Find them and cultivate relationships with them. Learn from those who radiate passion for their field and/or subject area, and share in their wisdom and expertise. Develop relationships with those who challenge you and help you grow as a teacher. And be sure to steer clear of the negativity from cynics and Debbie Downers—they’ll just bring you down with them.
2. Write Down Your Vision for Yourself as a Teacher
How do you see yourself as a teacher? What are your goals and aspirations? Write it down. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or complicated. When times get hard, having a personal vision can serve as a compass when challenges arise. Remember, this is for you.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Mess Up
Your first year will be a trying time. Every first year teacher experienced trying times and came out the other side. It’s all about learning and adapting from situations (and often time failures), that can only come from experiences. But seeking out those mentors, as mentioned above, will help walk you through the ups and downs. You will survive, and you will come out a better teacher for year two with more confidence.
4. Make Sure You’re Over Prepared
The first day, even the first month or two can be overwhelming. Have a couple of extra activities planned for leftover time, print extra worksheets and materials, and write down an agenda on the blackboard to keep your students on task throughout the day. Ensuring you have more than enough will be your safety net when unexpected situations arise.
5. Catalogue Your Classroom Success
Keep track of your classroom successes throughout the day and write them down. Brandon smiled today when he walked into class; Julie volunteered to answer a question; D.J finished his homework; my lesson plans are done for tomorrow. Reminding yourself of your students and your own successes will help guarantee you’ll have a great year.
6. Create a Positive Classroom Environment
You may very well be the only constant and positive adult in your student’s life. Your classroom may be the only place your student will feel secure, wanted, and loved; the only person who will be their champion. Make creating that environment your priority when students enter your classroom. Cultivate a learning environment of authentic and meaningful relationships and truly believe in your students. Cheer them on an encourage them. Seek to make a positive impact and difference in their lives.
7. Find Inspiration From Other Teachers
Observe really effective teachers in your school. With years of experience under their belts, ask them questions and use their advice to adapt to your teaching style. You can also check out TEDTalks from inspiring educators to learn from as well. Make it a habit to continually learn from others and improve the way you teach.
8. Demand Good Professional Development
There is so much to learn as a new teacher, and you can’t do it alone. Good professional development (PD) and training can make all the difference. Speak with your mentor, other teachers, or your administration to help recommend high quality PD. Online courses can offer your a variety of high quality, personalized professional development opportunities that can help you close those gaps.
9. Take Care of Yourself
Learn to maintain a healthy work/life balance. At least once a week, take time for yourself. Go for a hike, read that new book, watch your favorite Netflix show, or go to dinner with friends. It’s easy to get sucked into teaching. Take the mental break you need to relax and rejuvenate your body and mind.
10. Have Fun
Remember, you are only human. You are going to be challenged and you will even make a few mistakes. Do your absolute best and have fun doing it. Relax and truly enjoy the start of this adventurous journey known as teaching.