- How did you become a teacher?
- Are there days you regret your decision?
- What do you love about teaching?
- Do you have any tips for a new teacher?
But if I could give some tips to the new teachers that I have learned over the years, this would be it.
- Document. Everything. If you are having issues with students (whether behavior or academically) you need documentation to back you up. It will make the meetings that you have to better assist the student much easier when you have concrete proof to match up with what you are witnessing in the class.
- KEEP PARENTS INFORMED! Yes, you may think that your weekly newsletter is enough. Or perhaps your class website is sufficient. Or the fact that you send home all the work each week with grades listed, should keep parents up to date on their child's progress. But the fact of the matter is, it doesn't. I'm not knocking parents for this. Perhaps they are working full-time, have multiple children.....whatever. I don't care what their excuse is. The fact of the matter is, you will make your job MUCH easier if you just keep them informed. I'm lucky to work at a school where parents (and students) have access to the grade book. They can simply sign in and see what the grades are. I tell them in the beginning of the year, that they should be signing in at least bi-weekly if not weekly. That there should be NO SURPRISED come report card time. But perhaps you don't have that ability with your system. Find one that you can use to send home progress reports. I did so bi-weekly back in my first year of teaching and I will tell you, parents appreciated it. And not just with grades....keep them informed of behavior too. (Here is a link to an old blog post that I did about my weekly cover sheets.)
- Add one new cool thing to your curriculum each year. When you first start teaching, it is beyond overwhelming when you are faced with teaching multiple subjects. You feel this need to try and make every lesson fun. But let's be honest. That is not necessarily realistic! Sometimes, you are going to have a very dry lesson. That's okay. But as the years go on, try to add at least one cool lesson plan into each subject. I love doing projects with my kids. And for the most part - they too love them. They help teach a regular concept but in a fun way. I don't necessarily do every thing I've created every single year. I look at my current group of students and determine what's best for them. But at least I know, I do have some fun stuff up my sleeve. Look for ideas on other teacher blogs (and of course, mine). ;-)
- You will hear this piece of advice from practically every single teacher. And it is so true. MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE OFFICE STAFF AND JANITORIAL STAFF. These two groups of people run the school. No. Really. They do! And you want them on your side. Don't look down your nose at them. Because when the time comes and you need them, you want to know they are there for you.
- Take time for you. Your first year of teaching (and second and third!) will feel like never-ending hours. And rightfully so. You will be planning, grading, communicating all year long. But make sure you take time for you. Mark on the calendar 3-4 nights AT LEAST that you will go home and not touch a single piece of work. It can wait. And you will get it done another day.
- Know when to ask for help. Get volunteers in your classroom to assist with changing up bulletin boards, running centers - whatever! Don't be afraid to have someone in your room.
- Find creative ways to get supplies for your classroom. Send out requests to parents - often they want to help out but don't know what you need. Have a wish list available to them all year long. Utilize websites such as Donor's Choose (if your a public school teacher) or Adopt a Classroom (they accept private school teachers). Share your needs with friends and family through social media. Ask companies - you never know what they can provide you. Hit up things such as Freecycle, eBay and Craigslist to find gently used items. (I have either bought or been given over 1500 books for my classroom library by using these resources at a fraction of the cost!) Don't be afraid to ask for discounts. Tell them you are a teacher. I have an awesome co-worker who hits up garage sales. She makes sure she tells them she's a teacher and more often than not, she gets many items for FREE or at a ridiculously discounted price.
What would you add to my list of tips? Share below.