Your first year of teaching can be a stressful and demanding time full of anxiety and struggles. It can also be the most fulfilling year of your life. By putting in some time and effort before the school year begins you can launch yourself into a great school year of engaging students and building relationships that will last far after your first year of teaching ends.
There are lots of THINGS that people will tell you-you NEED for your first year teaching, but the truth is things don’t make the classroom. Sure, a nicely decorated classroom full of thoughtful touches can make it a bit homier, but the relationships you build in the classroom are what really matter, not the stuff.
Instead of a list of items to buy this blog post is more about the intangible things you will need your first year of teaching.
Your First Year of Teaching You Will Need Flexibility
No matter how much you plan out and organize your first year in the classroom things will change. When they do it is important that you roll with it.
Your classroom should be based around your students’ needs and should reflect that. This means that when a lesson you thought was going to be amazing goes south and isn’t what your students need you don’t stick with it. Instead, take a left turn and head in a new student-centered direction.
Your students aren’t the only reason you will need flexibility. Schedule changes are part of the job. Students are going to be pulled out at inconvenient times, and sometimes things happen on the fly. It is your responsibility to make it work, and you will.
Your First Year of Teaching You Will Need Determination
Your first year in the classroom will be hard. Honestly, every year will be hard but for different reasons.
You will need determination and grit to get up every day and make the magic happen. Some days will be easier than others, but you can and will do it every day.
In the department, positive self-talk can go a long way. I always thought positive affirmations were silly until I started using them and now I have my own series of affirmations I tell myself every morning.
Knowing you will make it through the year, no matter how tough, is half the battle. You don’t have to do it alone though. Use your support system, both in and out of school, and keep on keeping on.
Your First Year of Teaching You Will Need Grace
There are going to be mistakes. Likely, a lot of them. You will make mistakes, your coworkers will make mistakes, and your students will make mistakes.
Instead of being too hard on yourself or others be prepared to grant grace.
Giving grace to yourself and others still recognizes a mistake was made but allows you to move on with the year. This does not mean you don’t take responsibility for your mistakes, but it does mean you move forward to correct the mistake and work actively to make it better.
Your First Year of Teaching You Will Need a Positive Attitude
They say you can do anything with a positive attitude, and while I am not sure about that, it sure does make life easier.
When you enter your first year teaching, and every year after that, with a positive attitude you are making the effort to tell yourself and others that it is going to be a great day, week, month, and year.
One of the beautiful things about teaching is every day is a new start. You will need this new start more than once, but more importantly, your students will need a fresh start.
Your First Year of Teaching You Will Need a Problem Solving Approach
During your first year of teaching, there will be many, many, many opportunities to be a problem-solver.
While not every problem has a solution, it is vital to approach each situation as if you can find a solution. This goes hand in hand with having a positive attitude.
Use your resources to do what is best for your students and you can’t go wrong.
Your First Year of Teaching You Will Need A Team
Whether we are talking your grade level team, your administrative team, your friends, or your family you will need them during your first year of teaching.
Teaching is a lot and you need a support system for when the going gets tough. Surround yourself with other people who are also positive and excited about the teaching and you will be in a much better place.
Working with a team is a life-saver. You will plan together, problem solve together, and laugh together. At the end of the day, your team is who will understand your struggles most, because they have been there or are there.
Your First Year of Teaching You Will Need Sleep
When the going gets tough we often give up our sleep.
I don’t know why this is the way things work, but it always seems this way. When we need the recovery time of sleep it seems to evade us.
Begin a sleep routine and schedule before you feel you need it. Go to bed and wake up at consistent times instead of bingeing on sleep. Turn off all screens at least an hour before you are ready to close your eyes.
When you are well rested you are more ready to face any challenges that may come your way.
Your First Year of Teaching You Will Need Excitement
Odds are you are excited to begin your first year of teaching, and you should be!
The key is to keep this excitement up throughout the year. Stay excited when things get tough and you are tired. This is a fake it until you make it kind of thing. Even faked enthusiasm is better than none at all, and soon you will feel it too.
This doesn’t mean to fake your feelings. Be honest when you are having a hard time and work to make it better with your support team.
Your First Year of Teaching You Will Need Empathy
Our students may be little but they have big problems and are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. It is our job to help them with these problems while not getting bogged down in them ourselves.
The world is a scary place, and it isn’t any easier for our students. It is vital that we work to understand our students’ problems to the best of our abilities while still understanding there are some things we can never understand.
Making our classrooms a safe place for our students should be the number one priority each and every day. This means providing a place where our students feel they are seen, heard, respected, and part of the culture.
Want More Support as a First Year Teacher?
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.