Your first year in the classroom will be tough, there is no doubt about that, but with this First Year Teacher Survival Guide, you are sure to know what is coming and be more prepared to handle it.
There is no easy button to make your first year in the classroom fly by smoothly, but in this post, I hope to provide you with advice on how to stress less and get the most out of your first year in the classroom for both you and your students.
First Year Teacher Survival Guide
When thinking about my first year in the classroom three things really stuck out to me as true survival techniques. These are the items I am choosing to write about as a First Year Teacher Survival Guide.
Do It For Your Students
The first thing I would tell every teacher is to do it for the students. Every choice or decision you have to think about your students first.
Now, this does not mean to run yourself ragged and close to a mental breakdown to do everything.
What is DOES mean is to think seriously about whether you should do something based on whether it is what is best for your students or not. At the end of the day, you likely got into teaching to help your students and if you remember that when the going gets tough you will be one step ahead of most.
There are a lot of things we are asked to do as teachers that don’t necessarily have a direct impact on our students, and when you can you should. BUT, there are times, especially as a first year teacher, that your plate will be overfull and it is important then to take a step back and only do what needs to be done for your students.
There are going to be tough days, probably a lot of them. The good news is you get to choose how you handle those tough days. You can choose to wallow and feel defeated or you can choose to start the next day anew.
A school year is not that long, and it will be over before you know it. When you spend time down in the dumps over situations that are likely out of your control you waste this precious time with your students. This means you lose valuable teaching time as well as damage your relationships with your students.
Before the school year begins decide on what your mindset will be. If you choose a positive problem-solving mindset it will put you in the right place to have a successful year.
On this note, surround yourself with positive people. They will be easy to find. Every campus has a few negative Nelly’s but don’t waste your time with them. Instead, find your positive pals and make them your school family. They will be there ready to pick you up and encourage your throughout your career.
One of my favorite articles on this topic is Find Your Marigold from Jennifer at Cult of Pedagogy. It is a must read in my book.
Your positive attitude will set the tone for your classroom and spread to your students. This is the ultimate goal.
Focus on Relationships First
You are going to be spending a lot of time with the tiny humans in your classroom and it is vital to remember that they are people. Each of your students will enter your classroom with their own life experiences, trauma, and celebrations. We, as teachers, have to put our students first and help them to work through everything thrown at them.
It is easy to get bogged down in all the curriculum you need to get through in a year, but there is no way to make it through everything if you don’t have a solid foundational relationship with your students first.
Take your time during the first few weeks of school to get to know your students and encourage them to build relationships with one another. This can be accomplished through ice-breakers, team-builders, and community building with the whole class.
In addition to fostering relationships and community in the classroom, it is imperative to build relationships with students’ families and ensure they feel welcome in the classroom. One of the best things I did to welcome families into our classroom and make sure they feel included is to call every family during the first week of school. This served as the first contact with many families who were unable to make it to meet the teacher night and allowed me to establish a positive relationship before I needed to share tougher information later in the year.
Having an open door policy with families is the only way to go in my book. Invite families in to share in their students’ learning as well as share their personal expertise.
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.