I have been teaching for 7 years, so I consider myself an established teacher. But a few years ago, I was a new teacher and wished somebody would have given me a few tips to make it through my first few years. While I realize that every teacher has their very favorite tricks and tips, I hope these 5 Sanity Savers For New Teachers that I share with you today will help to save your sanity for this school year.
Tip 1: Familiarize Yourself with What You are Teaching
I was hired to teach Kindergarten 2 1/2 days before the first day of school. I had taught second grade before, but had never even seen the kinder curriculum. I had no idea what was required of me to teach to my incoming students. I quickly located where my grade level’s standards were and read through all of them. Whether you are teaching pre-k, music, 5th grade, or 10th grade history, familiarize yourself with what you are required to teach. Hopefully your school/administration/district provides you with your standards along with a scope and sequence. Ask new colleagues to assist you, so you are not reinventing the wheel. If you know what you are teaching, you can focus on HOW you are going to teach it.
Tip 2: Ask Questions
Don’t be afraid to ask questions! I know that sometimes it can be intimidating when you are the newbie teacher at school, but save yourself some sleeplessness nights and frustrating prep periods…ask every question that arises! Getting the answer to even the simplest question, will save you time in the long run. As cliche as it sounds, there are no dumb questions.
Tip 3: Find an Experienced Mentor at your School
One thing in education that money cannot buy, is experience. Teachers with experience can provide you with a wealth of tips, tricks, and give you the low down on the school atmosphere and what the administration focuses on and is of utmost importance within the school. As a first year teacher, we often have lots of ideas and are eager to march to the beat of our drum and try out ideas we want, but it’s always good to LISTEN to the other teachers who have experience. Your administration might ‘assign’ you a mentor, but if he/she doesn’t, find someone and glean some experienced teaching tips and tricks!
Tip 4: Make Communication With Parents a Priority
A strong relationship with parents is one key to a successful school year. There are so many different options available to teachers today, which makes it easy to implement immediately. The technology that is available now, allows you to email or text parents/guardians instantly and without giving out your personal number. I personally use Remind for text messaging and class announcements and Class DoJo to send pictures. Research the options that are available and the ones that are approved by your administration and choose what will work best for you!
Tip 5: ROI = Return on Investment
This has really helped me as a ‘veteran’ teacher and I wished I would have learned this earlier in my career. A few years ago I attended a training on this topic and basically it means, invest your time and energy into where you are going to get your biggest return. Bulletin boards, fancy decor, homework packets, etc., have all proven to have a little affect size on student’s achievement. Now…I am not saying not to do this, but if I have 3 hours, I might spend 2 hours on planning for small group for the week and one hour on personalizing clothespins and re-doing my bulletin board. Invest your time in your relationships with students and focusing on teaching to your student’s individual learning. I can promise that the ‘return’ is much higher!
I have shared a few tips here today to save your sanity during your first year, but don’t forget to enjoy your first year too…you will never get another one! Embrace the challenge, rise to the occasion and put your students first and foremost and you will have an awesome first year!!
Looking for tips specific to teaching kindergarten? Then check out my First Day of Kindergarten blog post, or even How to Start Literacy Stations in the Kindergarten Classroom. I look forward to sharing my kindergarten chaos with my new friends…thank you Kim and Life Over C’s readers for having me today!
Abigail Peterson teaches full day kindergarten in Las Vegas, Nevada. She is a married to the best teacher husband in the world and is mama to 3 amazing kids. She inspires primary teachers across the world with her blog, Kindergarten Chaos and through professional development she presents to primary teachers.