I am starting my 19th year of teaching. It's my second in 6th grade. Last year was bad, really bad. I have tried all summer to get moved to one of our elementary schools. I mean, really tried. Even after the bad year, my principal wants me back and to be head of the Math department now. It is such an about face from last year.
When I think about advice for 1st year teachers, I think I need it too.
So, here's my thoughts:
- ASK FOR HELP No matter how great a teacher you think you are, your experience or non experience, ASK FOR HELP.
- HAVE A PLAN for classroom management. Kids want boundaries, they really do. As a teacher and a mom, I believe in this whole heartily. Make rules, make consequences, give rewards, but have something in place and STICK to it. You can have your students help design this, but YOU are the teacher. Go in with a plan BEFORE school starts.
- BE POSITIVE WITH PARENTS Dealing with parents can be hard sometimes. Contact them with positives before negatives occur. If you are nervous about parent conferences, ASK FOR HELP (see first bullet)
- TAKE TIME OFF Manage your time during the day and don't spend every weekend at school. Don't spend every night working at home. I am a firm believer that you can't eat, breathe, sleep school. Well, you can, but I don't think you should. Trust me, you will think about it ALL the time. I wake up in my sleep thinking about a lesson, or a student, or something weird. It happens. I just know you can't let it consume you, no matter what you "family life" is like.
- BE REALISTIC Do not compare yourself to the "perfect" teacher down the hallway, next door, or friends that you know or find on these awesome blogs. Decide your focus and get that right before tackling something else. For example, get your classroom management in order, then focus on perfecting centers, Daily 5, journals, etc. For me, last year it was surviving. It was close, but I did it. No, not really, it was Math journals. This year my focus is incorporating Math Centers in Middle School. I will still do journals, just adding the center things.
- HAVE A GOOD ATTITUDE This is my new mantra for this school year. I am going in with a new attitude. I am actually excited about going back to middle school. I am not going to look at it as "just get through the year". I am excited about teaching math and leading our new team. I know its going to be tough, there will be frustrations, but I know my attitude is better than last year and I can do this.
1. Sharpen pencils BEFORE classes
2. Teach students how to use glue (any age group, seriously!)
3. Have erasers available at all time, pink ones, pencil top, just have extras
4. Invest in wine, lots of wine (but partake at home only)
Best of luck and have a super year!