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Monday, June 29, 2015

Rock Your First Year of Teaching

I still remember my very first day of school. Not as a student, but as a TEACHER!  I was terrified of the 'not knowing.' Guess what? It went GREAT! I am so excited to be teaming up with Teaching with Crayons and Curls and My Mommy Reads to share advice for first year teachers. Here's what I got :)



1. Ask your principal for a copy of your school's Employee/Faculty Handbook and a copy of the Student Handbook. Familiarize yourself with the policies of your school. Post it note any questions you have that you may need clarification on. Learn your school's mission and climate. This will help you decide how you are going to contribute to helping the school achieve that mission. The handbooks will also help you understand the "nuts and bolts" of your school. Little things like learning how to "log money" and requesting field trips will snatch up your time if you are unfamiliar with the processes that are specific to your school. Also, sit down with your principal and ask questions about how the evaluation process will work. It's good to know up front what the expectations are so you can meet them! 

2. Buy comfortable shoes and clothes...You don't have to sacrifice your style to still look cute and professional. However, when and if you teach lower grades, I have learned to dress to expect the unexpected. Most days I end up sitting on the rug with my students, bending over and leaning across the guided reading table to help a reader, or crawling under a table chasing the top to a glue stick. Oh the random bus evacuation drill and tornado drills are always fun too!  :)  Just know you'll want to be comfortable and professional. especially your first year!  

3. Build rapport quickly! Start networking with your colleagues and tour their rooms to get ideas. Find a colleague that can mentor you and offer you advice. As soon as you get your class list, start contacting parents to introduce yourself. Let them know how excited you are to be their child's teacher. Go all out, do the phone calls, post cards, etc. Positive communication upfront goes a long way later down the road if you have to make a difficult behavior phone call. If you can build rapport at the beginning of the year, parents are more likely to trust you and come to you with any problems or concerns versus running to your principal. Continue building positive rapport throughout the year with "good" phone calls/notes home and through parent conferences. Also take the time to build rapport with your students. Those first few days, focus on building a community and bond with your students. If they don't feel the love and respect from you, they certainly aren't going to learn from you!!!  


1. Don't be afraid to ask for advice or help. It's okay to have questions. In fact, you'll probably have a lot of them. Find a mentor to whom you can ask, but please don't be afraid to ask. If your district has instructional coaches these people can help you tremendously. I know in my district, our coaches are there simply to "coach," and not to observe. This allows us to risk that vulnerability and ask those questions we are not sure about. Attend grade level planning meetings and any professional development classes that your district or school offers. Both of those environments are there for you to ask questions! 

2. Don't expect to have it all together. For your first year, focus on your instruction and classroom management. Your cute Pinterest classroom decor ideas can come later on. For now focus on mastering your curriculum. Your cute classroom isn't what is going to keep you in the classroom, it's your instruction that will! Many of the teachers that you see through social media have been teaching for MANY YEARS. Don't compare yourself to them, and expect to have it all together when starting out. I've been teaching for only five years, and I'm still trying to get it all together. ;)


Set GOALS! Set yourself mini-goals for each day and month to keep you on track. Goal setting will help keep you from getting overwhelmed. Learn to prioritize your goals. Along with your goals, allow yourself time for reflection. Reflect on things that went well and areas you want to improve upon. Teachers are life long learners and life long goal setters. Each year, I decide one area of instruction I want to really focus on doing better the following year. This summer, my goal is to really think about my writing instruction. I have worked hard to really strengthen my reading and math instruction in the previous years, but I know I could still use some tips on improving my writer's workshop block. So, guess what I'm working on and reading all about this summer?


Good luck on your first year of teaching. I pray that it is the first of many fulfilling years ahead! You are seriously about the enter the hardest, but BEST career ever! Enjoy the journey, do your best, don't forget to get some rest, and TEACH YOUR HEART OUT! 

Don't forget to link up and check out all of the other AMAZING advice too! You can click on the picture above to read it all! 


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