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Is your first year of teaching coming up?! You’re getting ready to graduate in a few months and maybe you’ve already accepted your first job or maybe you’re actively looking for one right now. There are so many things new teachers should know that often aren’t found in your college textbooks and most learn the hard way through trial and error. I’m here to provide you with a little bit of guidance *in hopes* that you will be better equipped for your first year of teaching.
Don’t reinvent the wheel
I can’t even begin to recall how many hours I spent reinventing the wheel my first year of teaching. I wanted to spend so much time creating resources, laminating, going all out. My biggest piece of advice to you during your first year of teaching: use your resources. Reach out to the seasoned teachers. They are always willing to help out! Suggest having a grade level planning day each week (if one isn’t already in place) where you can collaborate on what is being covered during the week. Teachers who have taught the same grade for a long time usually have binders and books full of ideas that they’re willing to share so you don’t spend hours looking for that *perfect* activity!
Invest in fabric for your bulletin boards
This may seem very silly but when I first started teaching, I used wrapping paper for my bulletin boards. This was probably my biggest mistake and stressor throughout the entire year. I wanted to have my bulletin boards changed periodically to address a different unit we were studying or showcasing our work but every time I went to change out my board, the wrapping paper would rip with the staples, I would have to patch it in.. it became a nightmare. I finally got smart and invested in some super fun fabric that stood the test of time. JoAnn’s always has coupons on fabric and if you sign up for Teacher Rewards, you get an extra 15% off every purchase!
Never leave without preparing for the next day
As teachers, we know that your lesson plans can change from day to day, but making sure you have your next day’s materials out and easily accessible is crucial your first year of teaching. If you unexpectedly wake up sick or something happens on your way to work in the morning (it happens to the best of us) you don’t want to be rushing around trying to scramble things together as the students are walking in. When everything is laid out and organized, ready to go, if someone had to step in your place, it makes for a smoother transition than calling your secretary to try to find your copies or materials.
Take time for YOURSELF
I know that I spend countless hours outside of the classroom preparing, learning and growing so I can be the best for my students. It’s easy to get wrapped up in that completely and forget about self-care. Your first year of teaching will be the hardest and most exciting year of your teaching career; it is easy to get burnt out. Make sure you set aside time on the weekend to do something not classroom related. Go for a walk, enjoy some time with family or friends, relax and binge on some Netflix, or sleep! Believe me, there is no tired like teacher tired! We want to give, give, give to our students, but we cannot pour from an empty glass. Take time to yourself, enjoy the free moments because Monday morning rolls around very quickly and you do it all over again.
Give yourself some GRACE
Like I said above, your first year of teaching will be hard. Will you make mistakes? Yes. Will every lesson go perfectly? No. Will you spill coffee on your blouse and have to talk to a parent in the same breath? Yes. Unfortunately, all of these things happen and the best thing you can do is give yourself some grace, take a deep breath and just try to grow, learn and do one thing a little bit better the next day. This year will be a whirlwind and you will learn so much!
My last piece of advice is simple… take a class picture. You will want to remember your first year and your first “real” students. You will look back on that picture and remember how important those kids were as they made you a teacher. They stuck by you through your mistakes, corny jokes and coffee breath. They will be a huge reminder of the tremendous growth you made. If you can make it through your first year of teaching, you can make it through anything… and I truly believe that.
New teachers, have fun and happy teaching! You can do this!