Congratulations on your new teaching job! Being a first year teacher is exciting, but can also be overwhelming at times. Here are 10 tips and tricks to help your first year teaching be successful and help you have a great year.
1. Before the first day of school, create a well thought out classroom management plan.
As a first year teacher, this is probably the most important thing you can do before your students arrive on the first day. Think through your classroom management plan and what routines and procedures you want students to practice those first few weeks of school. Stay consistent with your expectation and review the rules often. Think through:
- What classroom rules will your class use?
- What consequences will students have for not following the rules?
- Will you set up a reward system?
- How will students get your attention?
- When can students use the bathroom, get a drink, sharpen pencils, etc?
- How will you hold students accountable for incomplete work?
- What will students do once they are finished with their assignment?
- How will you communicate with families?
2. Build relationships with your students
Greet them at the door each morning and learn about them and their interests. This helps so much with setting up a positive classroom community.
3. Find a way to stay organized
I am more of a paper planner person, but there are wonderful computer programs you can use to write lesson plans and keep track of your schedule. Find a system that works for you. It’s okay to change it later on.
4. Be flexible
It is okay to admit that something isn’t working, and change it to better meet the needs of your students. My first year teaching Kindergarten I had an idea of how I wanted my small groups to look, but didn’t like it once my students were actually doing it. Throughout the year I made some changed to how I organized small groups and I believe my students were more successful because of it. Don’t be afraid to make those changes when necessary.
5. Keep things simple
With so many great ideas on Pinterest it can be hard to sort through them and figure out what is truly necessary. Don’t try to do everything your first year. My advice is to familiarize yourself with the curriculum first, and then supplement where needed. When you do need a resource, Pinterest and Teacher’s Pay Teacher’s are wonderful. Keep decorations and classroom management simple too. There is no need to set up an extravagant reward system. Simple is just as effective and less work for you.
6. Create a healthy balance between work and home life
Sometimes it’s necessary to stay after school to get work done or to take work home, but it’s okay to leave work at work too. It is cliche, but you truly cannot pour from an empty cup. Trying to do it all can lead to teacher burnout, and that isn’t good for you or your students.
Give students any jobs they can do to save you time like passing back papers, putting books or other materials away etc.
7. Don’t compare yourself to other teachers
I love that Pinterest is full of wonderful resources and ideas, but your classroom doesn’t need to be “Pinterest-worthy” to be a great classroom. What is more important is that your classroom supports students and their learning and success.
8. Collaborate with other teachers in your grade level
Teachers in your building can be a great resource because they have had years to learn the curriculum and learn what works best for their kids. Don’t be afraid to ask them for tips and ideas. In my experience, most teachers are more than happy to share resources and ideas.
9. Try to observe other classrooms
One of the most beneficial things as a first year teacher was to observe other classrooms. It is nice to see how other teacher organize their rooms, their teaching styles and classroom management. I came back to my room inspired with a list of things I wanted to try. My principal organized observations for me to go to, but if that isn’t an option, you could always ask other teachers to observe them during your plan period.
10. Enjoy your first year
There are going to be tough days, we all have them. But remember that you are making a difference in your students.
Have a great first year teaching!
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