Your first year of teaching offers excitement and surprises, along with a steep learning curve. There’s so much to keep in mind that it’s natural to feel a bit overwhelmed.
What are the most critical things to remember during your first year of teaching? If you heed the following top ten list, you should sail through the adversity.
1. You Can’t Prepare Enough
Depending on your district, you might be required to submit lesson plans in advance. Even if your institution has no such requirement, it’s wise to plan.
Make sure you include all five elements of a terrific lesson plan in your designs. You’ll need your objectives and subject matter, the procedures you will follow and a way to evaluate both student achievement and effectiveness in delivery. You can use these ideas year after year, tweaking them as you go as your methodology improves.
2. Find a Mentor Pronto
The most valuable tool in your first year teaching arsenal can be your mentor. Depending on your district, they may assign an individual to take you under their wing.
However, if they do not, you’ll need to find a mentor independently. Ask yourself questions — which of your colleagues represent the type of teacher you want to be, and who has the most experience? Once you find someone, approach them with a request for help coupled with an offer to help with their workload.
3. Participate in Professional Development
Your school district will likely provide professional development activities. Some may require attendance, while other sessions are optional. Please make plans to attend as many as possible.
You can also suggest improvements. If there’s a particular topic that you would like to learn more about, such as how to engage autistic students, submit a request to your human resources department. You show initiative by requesting the type of in-service opportunities you would find most valuable.
4. Observe Other Teachers
You probably did your share of observations during student teaching. Guess what? There is no need to stop now that you have a salaried role.
Use one of your prep periods weekly to observe another teacher’s class. It’s valuable to witness those in different departments — you can still learn valuable classroom management tips from a biology instructor even if you teach English.
5. Build a Supportive Classroom Environment
You want to begin building a supportive learning environment from the first day. One way to do so is by pairing students with another to help your learners get acquainted and make connections. You could have them share a few facts about themselves and then let their partner introduce them to the class.
You also need positive classroom management. Learn how to redirect off-task behavior without interrupting your lesson by circulating the room and using proximity to unruly students.
6. Remember, Your Students Aren’t Your Friends
If your first year teaching involves leading juniors and seniors, you might find only a few years separate you in age from your students. Please avoid the temptation to try to act cool and be their friend.
You want your students to treat you like an authority figure, not one of their gang. Maintain an appropriate distance by using adult language and avoiding slang. It’s okay to chit-chat with those you run into at the corner coffee shop, but don’t join their table and chill.
7. Beg, Borrow and Steal
William Shakespeare once wrote that there’s nothing new under the sun, and this truth holds when it comes to lessons. No matter how creative you think you are, someone, somewhere, has a more engaging way to teach.
However, you, like your learners, grow when you work together. Share ideas with your colleagues. If you find yourself teaching online due to COVID, contribute to your team’s collaborative online space or offer to set up a Google Drive where you can share with others in your department.
8. Keep Learning
Learning, like teaching, is a practice and an art. You can always get better — please continue learning.
Even if you don’t want to start on your master’s degree right after graduation, use your first year teaching to take inexpensive or free online courses on topics like classroom management. Most online learning tools also offer classes on using their software to create the ultimate learning experience.
9. Let Go of What You Can’t Control
You prepared for in-person sessions, but an outbreak of COVID-19 left you in the virtual classroom. It’s 2020 — learn how to expect the unexpected to survive your first year teaching.
Also, learn how to let go of what you can’t control to reduce your stress levels. If a student says they can’t complete an online group assignment due to poor internet access, find them an alternative project. Ensure you have backup plans in case your museum field trip cancels unexpectedly.
10. Take Care of Yourself
Finally, your first year teaching will leave you feeling drained. Keep your energy levels and spirits up by practicing self-care.
Learn how to prep healthy freezer meals to have a quick dinner alternative to fast food when you have a stack of papers miles high to grade. Now that you have cash, invest in a fitness app if you don’t feel like exposing yourself to gym germs. Practice wise sleep hygiene by going to bed and rising at approximately the same time each day — even on weekends.
Remember These 10 Tips to Have a Fabulous First Year Teaching
If you keep these ten tips in mind, you should enjoy your first year teaching. Keep a calm and positive attitude — you’ve got this!