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4 Pieces of Advice for New Teachers

4 Pieces of Advice for New Teachers

There are very few experiences like the first year of teaching. You will laugh when you didn’t think it was possible, cry for no reason, and sleep 10 hours per night. The only thing like it is having your first child - but 30 to 130 of them. Although the best methods of success are those which you come up with for yourself, some universal tips can help everyone’s first year of teaching go smoother.

Don’t obsess about your classroom

Classroom decoration and arrangement is often the first thing new teachers think about after they accept a job offer. I’m here to tell you that once you have the basics covered, the classroom isn’t that important. I had failures in a room with floor-to-ceiling windows and plenty of space and some of my greatest successes came in a room with no windows and not enough desks for everyone. The key when arranging your room for the first time is flexibility because you will change things a lot, sometimes in the middle of a class. In time, the walls will be covered in student work and the room will become more theirs than yours, anyway.

But use a seating chart

Yes, seating charts are important for discipline, but implementing one early in the school year has a specific purpose: to help you learn names. Sort students by first name and seat them, explaining your reasoning. Then, in week two when you are blanking on some names, all you have to do is remember who those students sit near. That should be enough of a clue to get you through.

Observe as much as possible

Planning time is sacred for new teachers, but it’s worth taking some of that time to observe other teachers’ classes (with their permission). This works best if it’s not your best friend’s class, not in your grade/subject area, and not with students you know, otherwise you are missing an opportunity to expand your horizons. You don’t even have to be looking for anything specific. Just go in with a notebook and an open mind. You will come out wiser and more motivated.

You’re allowed to make your work your own

First-year teachers cling to the curriculum and pacing guide like a life preserver. For many, that content becomes stale and saps away your passion and energy. Don’t be afraid to study and then try new classroom strategies. Maybe flip the classroom for a week to see how it works. Bring in more technology or find new ways to leverage it. You will find what works while becoming the teacher you always hoped you would be, one that looks forward to every day.

 

Starting your journey as an educator is full of excitement and anxiety. In time, you’ll blossom into a confident and awesome educator. Looking for more guidance as you look forward to the new school year? Learn how to turn your classroom into a well-oiled machine by reading more classroom management blogs!

scott.sterling's picture

Scott Sterling is a former English teacher who worked in Title I middle and high schools in St. Petersburg, Florida who is now a freelance writer who focuses on education. He is also a stay-at-home dad to his 4-year-old daughter Lily, who will soon be starting her own educational journey.

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