Back to School we go! First, I would like to begin by thanking all the teachers for having such a kind heart to be in this profession. I also want to wish you all an incredible year and I pray that God always guides your hearts and allows you to move your incoming students you are called to teach this year!
I am about to start my fifth year of teaching and I can’t believe how much time has flown by. I remember being so nervous my first of year of teaching that I couldn’t sleep the first week of school. I was afraid of failure, but most of all I was afraid of failing my students as a teacher. So today I’m sharing my personal advice to any first year teachers and although I don’t have everything figured out, I think that this advice will go a long way to making your first year a great one!
Usually, your first week of work will consist of professional development with a lot of paper work, data, student profiles, trainings, curriculum, introduction of any new grants your campus might have received, and did I mention data? Trust me, my first week I was like whoa, this is a lot to grasp on. Pace yourself, eventually you will catch on this information, don’t feel overwhelmed in trying to figure it all out in one week. Also, if you need to go to work during the weekend,before the students return, to make final copies, do so. Every year I go the weekend before school starts to make sure I have a whole week worth of work prepared for my students so that I can work on school paperwork during my conference instead of planning lessons and making copies. The first two weeks of school are very busy. Which reminds me, always plan one to two weeks ahead.
2.Establish Systems and Processes
Every year I work on a class syllabus for my students which coincides with my school district vision; college readiness, connected, and complete. I start to introduce college strategies in my classroom to prepare them for college. By the way I teach middle school. In my classroom syllabus, I always include my systems and process (my non-negotiables) to ensure a safe learning environment with great classroom management. This sections describes what it is that you expect your students to do every time they step into your classroom. Make sure you don’t have more than five in this section so that students don’t feel like they are being dictated. These systems and processes should be practiced by day two and it’s okay to correct them when they are not practicing what you have established. REMEMBER, to always stay consistent, because you will always have a few students who will test you. Let them know that you follow up on what you say.
3.Build Synergistic Relationships
This is by the far the biggest factor for building genuine relationships with your students. Now, I’m not saying become best friends with your students, but to get to know them. My first two weeks of school, I’m hard and strict with my procedures and students, but I also use these two weeks to incorporate control activities that allow me to get to know my students. Sometimes as teachers we get all caught up with everything that needs to be taught, that we forget to know our students and ask our students how they are doing. During the past four years, I have worked with students who have confined in me about incidents they face in their personal life outside of school and I always make sure to find a way to work with them all while getting them to complete their assignments at school. For the next nine to ten months you will be more than just a teacher to them. Try to find ways to interact with your students, because you will come across some students that are dealing with life on their own and it’s our job to make sure they don’t deal with it alone. Be the type of teacher, that not only teaches in a classroom, but teaches life lessons outside the classroom.
4.Make a Schedule
There will always be things thrown your way last minute because that’s just how it works, lol. Writing it down on a calendar is a great way to keep a tab on when and what time things are due. If you follow me on Instagram then you’ll see me working on my planner every week!
5. Leave Work at School
My first year of school I found myself staying countless of times trying to catch up on everything for work and then sometimes I would take things with me home to try to catch up, but the truth is, you’ll never catch up. There is always something that needs to get done at work and I have found that by pacing myself and scheduling things out I have found ways to get things done without taking anything home. Before I would go to work then come home and work. I was waking up with such negative attitudes, I hated it. Now, I have more energy and motivation about going to work each morning since leaving work at work.
Don’t be afraid to ask people for help or ask any questions you may have. We were all beginners at some point and being a teacher means that we enjoy helping others. Don’t make your first year hard on yourself and don’t feel like you need to figure out everything on your own, you don’t.
My first year I was so fortunate to have a department and co-worker that reached out to me when it came to sharing lessons. I have never felt that competition or the need to hide teaching materials/ strategies from my co-workers. I honestly believe that collaborating ideas and sharing lessons allow us to grow as educators all while helping our students succeed. Find a community of teachers that are willing to collaborate and learn from them. Don’t be afraid to share your ideas either!
We work with students who are emotionally trying to figure out themselves all while being a student. Which means that sometimes some students are going to have their bad days and each day will be a different student or students. And, because we are humans, as teachers we are going to go through personal things as well and having bad days in a classroom can lead up to a lot of vulnerable situations. I learned quick, that the practice of self-regulation throughout the day is important in order to keep yourself calm and collected. Whenever you have those days, step away from a situation, think it through and deal with your situation once you have gathered your thoughts calmly. Yelling in a classroom is not necessary and more than likely you are going to find yourself having a miserable year. Students want to feel like adults, not kids, so talk to them with a calm and collected approach. Remember you are the adult in the room, you don’t need to go on a back and forth argument.
9.Make Mistakes and Learn from them
That’s right, as teachers we are going to try out different innovations and strategies and sometimes it won’t work out as a plan, but learn from those situations to create a better way of delivering your lesson. We are teachers, we won’t get everything right the first time around, but I learned that through my mistakes I have cultivated my most valuable lessons as a teacher.
10. Buy Yourself Comfortable Shoes
Okay, okay, how can I not throw some fashion advice right? My first year of teaching I bought all types of pretty heels, but I learned after my first week of school, I wasn’t going to make it in heels. I am the type of teacher who is consistently in the power zone, moving around the classroom which means I’m pretty much standing up all day. Invest in some comfortable shoes, wedges are pretty comfy for me. I even bought some ballet flats (lucky brand are usually comfy) to keep in my classroom and when I can’t stand my shoes anymore, I slip into them.
Have a wonderful first year and remember that you are changing and touching someone’s life each and every day you step into the classroom. Please feel free to comment below or ask a question. Don’t forget to SHARE and PIN, thank you!
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Have a Wonderful School Year and God Bless You Always!
Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity.