My advice for first-year teachers is to ENJOY IT! You have been waiting years for this moment, and it is here.
Besides enjoying your first year, I do have some tips for you…
✨TIP #1: ASK ALL THE QUESTIONS!
Reach out to your admin or mentor teacher and don’t be scared to ask alllll of the small and big questions! When will you have access to your room? Will you have a budget to purchase things for your class? Are there things that are prohibited in my classroom? What is required to be displayed? Can I decorate my door? What will be required of me after school? What time do I need to be there in the morning and what time am I released? Etc.
✨TIP #2: GET IN TOUCH WITH EVERYONE!
As soon as you get hired, get in touch with your team or mentor teacher. Your admin should be able to get you their emails or phone numbers so that you can be in contact with them over the summer as they plan or share ideas! Reach out to them and don’t be afraid to ask for advice! Find out what you can start doing to be the most prepared and take advantage of whatever time you have to start getting to know your team. Make sure to ask them how you can help and let them know you want to be a teamplayer!
✨TIP #3: MAKE YOUR CLASSROOM A WELCOMING SPACE!
It does not have to be picture perfect. So don’t break the bank! The classrooms you see on Instagram have taken years to get to that point. Just make sure you create a warm and inviting space for your students! How do you do that? Make space on the wall for their work, have their names and birthdays displayed, create cozy reading spaces, etc. Another way to make your classroom welcome is to bring plants and lamps to warm up the space. Make sure to ask your admin or team if there are things that are off limits!
✨TIP #4: PLAN YOUR FIRST COUPLE OF WEEKS!
I know this sounds crazy but you will be so happy you did it. How can you do this? Use your mentor and/or team to help you find the resources and curriculum materials you need. Also, remember that the first couple weeks should be used to get to know your students and to encourage your students to get to know each other. It’s also incredibly important to take this time to allow your students to get to know their new classroom and quite possibly their new school. The first two weeks are so important for building relationships, mutual respect, and familiarizing your kiddos with your expectations. Build a classroom contract, set expectations, establish routines, and practice and PRAISE the behaviors you want to encourage from your class. Unless required, don’t worry so much about the academics!!
✨TIP #5: GET TO KNOW YOUR STUDENTS’ ABILITIES!
The first couple of weeks is also a great time to get to know your students abilities. Talk with your team about how they determine where their students are as far as learning goes. Knowing where your students are helps you develop a game plan for your instruction going forward. This can help you plan your small groups, intervention, enrichment, etc. Try to make these as fun and non-anxiety inducing as possible. Your students may already be a little anxious with the start of a new school year and giving them a big, boring, test can cause them stress and possibly make negative behaviors emerge. Try to be creative and caring about whatever assessments you need to complete those first couple of weeks.
✨TIP #6: SET AN ALARM!
Set an alarm for when you need to shut the computer, turn off the classroom light, and head to your car. Being a new teacher can be overwhelming and you may feel like you need to get everything done right now. But some things can wait and you need to prioritize you! Give yourself some grace especially the first couple of weeks and don’t LIVE at school.