Your first year of teaching can be full of struggles and stress, but it doesn’t have to be. In this blog post, I will be covering five topics every new teacher should think about before their school year starts. With these tips for first year teachers you can be prepared for your school year and ready to move forward with your students.
Teaching is one of the only, if not the only, profession that expects a first year teacher to have the same expertise on their first day of school as a veteran teacher.
I am going to level with you. Your first year of teaching is hard. There is no way around it. BUT, with some preparation, you will be able to tackle the year with grace and tenacity. Here are some things you should think about before the year begins.
First Year Teachers Should Consider Their Behavior Management System
How you set up your behavior management system in the classroom can often set the tone for the whole year.
I would urge you to set up a system as soon as possible. Start with the positive and build from there. You can always tweak your system as the year goes on and you get to know your students and their needs better.
When considering a system think about what you appreciated in your teachers as a student and model your approach after them. there is no one size fits all approach to classroom management, but if you start by building relationships with your students you are on the right track.
Some ideas for building a classroom management system:
- Create a class contract with how students would like to be treated by you and their peers as well as how you expect to be treated by them.
- Allow students to generate their own set of “rules” for the classroom.
- Ask teachers on your team about whole school systems to keep in mind.
First Year Teachers Should Consider Their Time Management
Your first year of teaching can really take it out of you. One of the things to consider before you start your first year of teaching is setting boundaries for your time management.
It is all too easy to completely lose yourself and all track of time in the classroom. Before you know it the sun has set and you have missed dinner.
Don’t get me wrong. There will be some evening where you need to stay late to get the job done, but don’t let that turn into an everyday occurrence.
Before the school year starts set some guidelines and boundaries for yourself. For me, this meant leaving at a certain time every day but once a week which was my preassigned late evening when I would stay an extra hour or two to make sure I was prepared. It also me
ant no weekends at school. These boundaries allowed me to stay fresh and enjoy family time.
This means you have to make every moment count. Some recommendations are to make the use of your planning and prep time instead of spending time chatting or checking your phone. When I needed to be most productive I would close myself in my classroom and get to work. This allowed me to make the most of my time and get out of the building a few minutes earlier in the afternoon.
First Year Teachers Should Consider How They Will Plan
Planning will be a large part of your first year of teaching, and honestly every year after that too.
Before you dive into plans know they are going to change. Also, try your best to get with your team members and see how they plan. Hopefully, you will have someone to plan with. The team’s way of planning may not work for your personal style, but be sure to start there. Odds are there is a reason they do it that way.
Don’t be afraid to share your ideas. If your team says they have always done it this way don’t be afraid to share something you found or thought of. New ideas are the lifeblood of planning and you are an important part of the team.
First Year Teachers Should Consider Their Classroom Space
Your classroom is a big part of you as a teacher. You want it to feel like you, but be appropriate and welcoming for your students.
While many teachers choose to have a themed classroom it is not necessary and isn’t something I would recommend spending money on your first year. Instead of a theme, try picking a few colors that compliment one another and using them throughout the classroom. This will make a cohesive look that won’t break the bank. With that being said, if decorating your room with a theme makes you happy, you do you.
Things to consider when thinking about your classroom space.
- How will your students be seated?
- Is your room accessible to all learners?
- Is your decor welcoming and encouraging without being overwhelming?
- Is there space for students to make the classroom their own?
- Do you have support areas for your students?
First Year Teachers Should Consider How They Will Build Community
Quite possibly the most important thing you can think about before your first year in the classroom is how to build community within the classroom. It is all about relationships.
Students who feel safe and loved are better able to handle academic and social challenges throughout the year, and this starts on day one.
Community building has a lot to do with personal preference. You need to do what feels right and natural to you. What matters most is that every student feels welcomed and comfortable in the classroom, with you, and with their peers. If there is a way you can help a student to feel more included you should do it.
My absolute favorite ways to build community in the classroom are through cooperative learning and individual conversations with students. Check out some of my favorite cooperative learning strategies for community building in this post.
Additionally, I would highly recommend making positive contact with families during the first week of school. A phone call home for each student or a positive and personal note can make a world of difference when it comes to making families feel welcome in your classroom.
Want More Support as a First Year Teacher?
Your first year 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.