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Welcome to your first year of teaching! It can be an exciting but daunting time. You’re filled with energy and ideas—which may be challenged by classroom realities. To help you keep your enthusiasm and have a great first year, here are five proven tips from a fellow teacher, who was once in your shoes. Give them a try—and good luck in the upcoming year!

 

  1. Ask questions.

Aren’t we constantly encouraging our students to do this?  The same goes for you!  Remember, no one expects you to already know how to fix a jam in the copy machine, submit attendance, or refer a student to his or her guidance counselor.  If you don’t know, ask!  You may be surprised at how helpful your colleagues and administrators are.

 

  1. Reflect and make changes.

Every teacher has lessons or activities that do not go as planned.  But what sets apart a great teacher is one who constantly reflects and makes changes.  Embrace the change!  During my first year, my mentor teacher was working with me on classroom management.  I told her my ideas for improving my current management system, and she looked right at me and said, “Great.  Start that tomorrow.”  I thought to myself, Mid-year?!  But, the students are used to our current system!  How do I just throw out all that we have done?!  What I learned is that if something isn’t working, consistency may not be a good enough reason to continue.  Your students will adapt more readily to new routines than you might think, especially when they are an improvement on an old model.

 

  1. Eat lunch with other teachers.

It’s tempting to work through lunch, or not to be bold enough to make friends with new colleagues.  Resist this temptation!  Eating with other teachers not only helps you relax and enjoy a few student-free moments in your day, but also you’ll learn a ton!  Casual conversation often turns into “shop-talk,” and chatting about lessons or strategies with teachers over lunch gives wonderful insights that you may not gain any other way.

 

  1. Make hours for yourself and stick to them!

First-year teaching is difficult.  It’s a year of creating, adapting, and developing new systems for you and your students.  All that takes time!  But, one of the biggest lessons I learned in my first year is that there is ALWAYS more work to do.  If you don’t set limits for your workday you may find yourself always first to arrive and last to leave!  It’s fine to work late every so often, but don’t let it become your everyday gig.  It takes work to balance other priorities, like your family or your fitness routine, but it will pay off big in avoiding new-teacher burnout.

 

  1. Trust yourself.

It’s normal in any new situation to second-guess yourself.  While asking questions and seeking guidance from veteran teachers is a good thing, don’t forget to trust your own ideas!  Who you are as an educator should shine through all that you do.  Remember, you worked hard to get where you are!  Let your classroom be a reflection of your own passions, creativity, and style.  And enjoy your year!

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Have other helpful tips for new teachers?  Post a comment below!

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