Advice for first year teachers from veteran teachers is invaluable!
Whether you are fresh out of college, coming to teaching from another career, or are going back to teaching after some time away from the classroom I am willing to bet the rumor mill has been swirling surrounding the world of a teacher, and it isn’t all positive.
In order to combat the negative teacher mentality, I set out to ask teachers what advice for first year teachers they had. I posted the question on Facebook and as I knew would happen, teachers were ready to jump in with their best advice.
Teachers are amazing about helping one another out, and this was no different. While MANY teachers responded to the post there seemed to be a few themes that were touched on over and over again which I will highlight in this post. You can check out the whole original thread here. A huge thank you to all of you who responded!!
At the end of the day, while all of these items are amazing advice for someone just starting out, they are also great reminders for us each and every day of our teaching careers!
“Not to worry when you feel overwhelmed…it happens to all of us!”
Overwhelmed is kind of a way of life for teachers, but it is a matter of how you harness this feeling and take care of business that will define you. My biggest recommendation would be to talk to a teammate when you are feeling overwhelmed. This accomplished a few things in that you get it out, find out if others are stressed about the same thing to gain perspective, and will most likely be offered support.
“Take care of yourself!”
There are more than a few quotes out there along the lines of you can’t give your best when you aren’t your best, and as stereotypical, as they are, it’s true.
Take care of yourself first and foremost so that you can take care of your students in return.
“You will always have more to do than what you can get done, so don’t stress over the unaccomplishable!”
The to do list for a teacher is infinite. Instead of becoming overwhelmed rank your list in order of importance and take care of what needs to be done first and be ready to let some of the other stuff go.
“Keep it simple! Less is more!”
In the world of Pinterest, it is really easy to feel like you are not keeping up with other teachers, but I have news for you, your classroom does not have to be perfectly decorated in order to be inspiring. At the end of the day it is the substance of the classroom that matters so much more than the decor, so don’t beat yourself up about not going all out on every item.
“Be flexible and value the support of experienced teachers.”
Experienced teachers have been in your shoes, and often will feel like they still are. When I first entered the classroom I thought I had all the tools I needed to lead my students into the brave new world, but quickly got a slap across the face that is real-world classrooms. Fortunately, I had an amazing mentor and great team that was there to dust me off, offer advice, and get me going again. Use and abuse advice from your teammates. If nothing else, two+ heads are always better than one!
“You will hate it. You will want to quite every day, but don’t, because it truly is rewarding. Make sure your class rules/procedures are explained and understood during the first week of class.”
“Find your calm place in the middle of the storm.”
At the end of the day, you are the only one that can find your own zen. One of the biggest pieces of advice for remaining calm that I was ever given was to drop your voice when you are upset instead of raising your voice. I am telling you, it works wonders, plus you don’t have to worry about your voice cracking out of anger.
“Be firm, but fair. Kids respect it.”
Firm and fair are what it is all about. When you offer this to your students they respond with respect and al
legiance. It does not matter if the rest of the school views you as the “strict” teacher because your students know that when you take care of business you get to have fun, and that is what matters.
“Each day is a new day. Also, to be kind to yourself.”
One of the best things about teaching is that you, and your students, get a fresh start each and every day. Seize this opportunity and treat each day as a new chance to make a difference in the world.
“Look for balance. Take care of yourself. Give yourself grace-you’re going to make mistakes. Use them as learning opportunities, just like we want our students to do.”
This one is everything. If you are not the best you then you can’t possibly be the best for your students as well. This means that
sometimes you are going to have to put yourself first, say no to taking on more than you can handle, and relax a little bit.
Mistakes happen. They happen every day, and there are plenty of them to be made. Keep your head about you and work to correct mistakes when they happen. Be an example for your students, and don’t be afraid to share your mistakes and how you are working to find a fix for them.
“Make sure your students always know they matter!”
After all, our students are what it is all about. If absolutely nothing else, every student should leave your classroom knowing that they matter and are cared for.
“Work smarter, not harder.”
On this note, if your students can do it then they should. There is no reason why students can’t do the things that keep your classroom running.
“Build a good rapport with your students and most of them will do anything for you. Start out firm, fair, be consistent, then you can ease up.”
Relationships are what make the world go round, and classrooms are no different. Take the time to get to know your students and let them get to know one another and you. When you build a true classroom community it is more like a family, and it becomes easier to handle possible problems as they arise.
One of the best pieces of advice for first year teachers is to start with relationship building. Everything else will come late.
“You are not alone! Don’t give up.”
There are millions of teachers the world over that are ready and willing to help you when you need it. Reach out to a teammate, a friend, a blogger, or a teacher leader when you need it. Teaching can feel really lonely when you are the only adult in the room, but you are never truly alone. If you are struggling reach out!
“If you make every decision with someone else in mind (students) you will be just fine.”
Want More Advice for First Year Teachers?
Your first year of teaching can be hard, but you don’t have to do it alone. Join our Facebook community for first year teachers. We are here to support you, encourage you, and help problem solve throughout your first year in the classroom and beyond.