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For First Year Teachers

Updated on July 6, 2012
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So Much Advice

First and foremost, congratulations on your new position!

As a first year teacher, you will hear a ton of advice from everyone from veteran teachers, to your principal, to people who aren't even in the education field. It can be overwhelming as you are just starting out and want to do as best as you can.

Having been in that position, beginning in a school district I hadn't even heard of before I sent my mass applications, I was completely overwhelmed trying to remember what I had heard from my professors, what I learned during student teaching, what my new administrators were telling me and what I could read in any book on first year of teaching I could get my hands on. When it comes down to it, hindsight is 20/20 and there are a lot of things I would have done differently knowing what I do now.

Three Things to Keep in Mind....

  1. Take Control: Your classroom is your place. Yes, you will have to answer to a lot of people while you are teaching within it, but it is your domain and you need to own that. Don't come off as arrogant, but certainly maintain a sense of control so that those around you take you seriously.

    When your students arrive, lay down your ground rules as they walk in the door. Establish procedures for what you want the students to do as they walk in and wait for the bell to ring. Lay out your expectations for the behavior of your students. Everything that you want students to do in your classroom, you need to show them and teach them.

    The general rule is to start off strict and it will give you room to ease up as time progresses. It is way more difficult to reign in students who are out of control than it is to ease up on the control you've created in your classroom. Many teachers want students to see them as "cool" or "fun" and tend to be lax. In many cases, especially for first year teachers, that could be your demise. Until you can figure out your persona and how you build rapport with your students, it could be very dangerous to be the cool and fun teacher as many students will lose their respect for you and you will lose all control.
  2. Collaborate: It is incredibly important for you to network within your building, district and region. Branch out and get to know those around you. Learn the dynamics of your school, interact with people in your department and your grade level.

    The relationships you build with people can help you navigate your first year, your curriculum and any issues that come up within your classroom. Holing yourself up in your classroom may seem like the only way to keep up with the workload and the requirements you have as a teacher, but it is just as important to make sure you get out into your school and communicate with those around you.
  3. It is Impossible to do Everything: New teachers are the most ambitious, but the most important piece of advice to remember is that it is impossible to do everything. You will burn yourself out if you think that you can tackle every aspect of teaching in your first year. You will never be able to tackle every aspect of teaching at any point in your career as this field is ever changing.

    Your main focus your first year is classroom management. Without good classroom management, it doesn't matter what you teach because the students will not be paying attention. Develop your lessons making sure they are standards driven; incorporate as much technology as you can in them. Meet with your colleagues, get to know your students' parents and don't take more on your plate than you can handle. Everything this year (and for the next several) will be trial and error and you need to accept that not everything is going to go perfectly the way it is planned.

When it comes down to it, be sure that you communicate. Communicate with those around you but most importantly communicate with yourself. Don't take on more than you can handle. Find colleagues to lean on. Embrace your mentor teacher and use their knowledge to help you grow. This year isn't going to be pretty and it will be a challenge, but you have what it takes. Believe in yourself and in your students and you will come out on the other side just fine!

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