Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Words of Wisdom

Teaching in Room 6 is having a link up for advice to new teachers. I think its great for ALL of us though.

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.
Lastly, some simple things they don't tell you in college:
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!


  1. Being realistic is so important! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us and thank you so much for linking up!

    Teaching in Room 6

  2. GREAT advice! We have 2 first year teachers in our math department as well and I think I will have to share this. I know we have said this before, but we have so much in common, teaching and family life. We are going to definitely keep in touch with each other this year. Our focus in math grades 6-8 is to do more math stations/centers. They want us to completely change the way math has been taught in these middle grades this year. And with the state testing I am really nervous about meeting their high expectations. We are also going to 90 minute classes (which I am excited about). They want our rooms to look like elementary rooms and I'm not sure that it can be done exactly the same way. My focus this year is to make our middle school classes work as well, but have their own unique style and look. Anyway, long comment - sorry - have fun this weekend! Hopefully we can be a great resource and friend to each other this year working and surviving 6th grade math!