I remember it like it was yesterday. My first year of teaching was a doozy. If you hang around here often, you probably are familiar with my first year of teaching story. I met a principal who I just fell in love with at our school’s career fair. I knew I wanted to work for her after one conversation with her. It wasn’t long before I had a job at her school. I was hired as a first grade teacher and was thrilled! I turned down other first grade jobs to be at her school, and I am so glad that I did! The year started off great. I had a wonderful team who listened well, held me hand and showed me the ropes, and really bursted my pride bubble (which was needed!). Then October rolled around. Things were happening with our class numbers and they just weren’t leveling out. My principal called me into her office and told me the news. They were moving me to kindergarten. She fought for me. She asked them to move anyone else but me, but they wouldn’t let her. I cried. I was heart-broken. It was a CRAZY first year of teaching, for sure. I fell in love quickly with teaching kindergarten and never looked back!
Maybe your first year of teaching is going something like this. Here are 20 tried and true tips for tackling your first year of teaching!
- Celebrate! You’ve worked hard for this position. Congratulations!
- Begin now. Make a list and start preparing for your school year.
- Do not blow your personal budget in August. Ask for classroom or friend and family donations. It is tempting to go all out for your first year, but resist the urge!
- Find a mentor teacher. Some schools pair you up with someone, but find someone who you look up to and know can be a patient resource for you – even if it means you have two mentors.
- Talk to your team. Get to know your new team members and their personalities. Find out how you can contribute well and try to go with the flow.
- Team planning. Pick a team member’s brain about the fall semester. Ask them what important events and dates you need to know about ahead of time. This prevents surprises and gives you time to prep.
- Do not give into the temptation to doubt your self. You were hired for a reason. You will feel overwhelmed and you will learn a significant amount in your first year.
- Prepare as much as you can before the first day of school. There will be so many little surprise things that pop-up. The more prepared you are ahead of time, the more you will leave room for the unexpected.
- Do not spend every waking hour on school. Your brain will want you to – even at 3 a.m. Find a hobby or a show you love and spend time on non-school things. You will need to find a healthy balance.
- Set a time to leave school each day and stick to it the best you can. It will be tempting to stay late every day. Don’t! It will be there tomorrow. Try your best to leave work at work. Your body will thank you.
- Sign up for a fitness class or a gym membership. Have something that keeps you active and gives you a reason to leave school on time.
- Give yourself a break. Some weeks will be more exhausting than others. Rest and recover. You will be a better teacher and person for it.
- Find a group of teacher friends to talk to. Your family and friends will have a hard time relating to “teacher” life. Find people who can understand and encourage you.
- Skip the school gossip. Be the person who stays quiet when others gossip. Stay out of the school drama and focus on why you are there. Do not get distracted.
- Find a positive quality about each teacher you come into contact with. Everyone is different and unique. Do not expect to be best friends with every teacher and learn to appreciate what each person can bring to the table.
- You will not be able to “do it all” your first year. Take it slow, one step at a time. Do not rush the process. You will learn as you go and your classroom will be amazing no matter what.
- Get parent help! Find little tasks to let your families help you with. Cutting things out, laminating, labeling, etc. Use your resources!
- Build a relationship with your principal. Quick pops by the office to say good morning or a Starbucks drink run are both simple ways to show appreciation. Get to know your principal and help them learn more about you. They will be your best advocates.
- Enjoy your students. When all else fails and curriculum feels overwhelming – love your students well. Have fun and enjoy your time with them. A brain break or a walk around campus are great ways to take a breather together.
- Remember why you started! You decided to be a teacher for a reason. When things feel overwhelming or intimidating, remember why you started. You are the exact teacher your students need this year!
You can do it! You were made for this!