In anticipation of Robyn’s new book You Can Do This: Hope and Help for New Teachers, we asked our Mindsteps newsletter subscribers to share their best advice for new teachers and WOW, did they deliver! Check out the wisdom of amazing teachers and administrators from all over the globe. And, if you’d like to add your advice, please share your words of wisdom for new teachers in the comments section below.
Take a deep breath every night right before you go to sleep! Be thankful you made it through the day. Think about one student whose smile happened because of you! Tomorrow will be better than today was. Remember, you may be the only adult who treats them with respect. Be that adult. Love that child.
Look for something that went well each day. Focus on the positive, not the negative!
Welcome to teaching and thank you for choosing this amazing profession that will certainly enrich your life. First of all, it is normal to feel nervous on the first day of school, just like your students. It is crucial to be prepared and organized this will help to start the year off smoothly. Stand by the door and greet students as they enter the classroom. Remember you are setting the tone of your class climate and establishing the beginning of a professional relationship with your students for the rest of the school year.
Begin your class period by playing a game to build collaboration in the classroom and put students at ease. It should be a type of game that gets students talking and interacting with each other. Also, I like to write a five paragraph letter to my students introducing myself. Using the same format, I ask my students to write back to me. This serves a purpose two fold; it gives me a quick writing sample and I get to know a lot about my students in a short amount of time.
Just be yourself, you will make mistakes. Admit to students when you don’t know something, you can always check on it and get back to them with the correct response. Students will see that you’re human too. The most important thing to remember is to build relationships with your students this will help you know what they need and they will work much harder for you when they know you truly care…Be able to laugh in class, it helps to lighten the mood from time to time. Good luck as you will find we are in the business of not only teaching, but in some cases saving lives.
-Suzane M. Hernandez
Listen to your kids.
Always do what’s best for kids.
To save lesson preparation time, there are many free online teaching resource repositories from which you can easily download lesson plans, PowerPoint slides, worksheets and other teaching resources. For most of these repositories, you will need to create an account to access their teaching resources. Here are some teaching resource repositories which I use:
- TES Connect: http://www.tes.co.uk/
- Share my lesson: http://www.sharemylesson.com/
- cK12- http://www.ck12.org/teacher/
As an educator, our job is to inspire, motivate, and challenge students AND colleagues. Use what you learned in school. Seek out more information from colleagues. Use your creativity. Remember what it was like to be a student yourself.
Begin with the end.” This could be advice for many things your first year. The most important being that, when planning, think to the end. Imagine what you want your students to be able to mentally and/or physically do at the end of the lesson you teach them. Then plan for that vision. Use your curriculum and the resources you are provided to create your lesson with the end in mind. You will not only have a formative assessment in mind for your students; you will be able to focus on the objective and you are less likely to feel anxious about lesson planning.
-Marett Ashworth Moore, M.Ed.
1. See the possibility in each child.
2. Welcome them.. make them feel safe and that ita okay to make mistakes
3. Be loving.. but be firm in your disciplinary actions
4. Start your day with encouraging words.
5. Let your students know your expectations
Treat every student as if he or she is your favorite. The students who struggle especially need to feel your concern for them. Once your students really believe that you care about them, all of them will want to please you and their learning will take off.
Remember that they are all just children who really want to learn even if they don’t act like it!
Be prepared to handle your own classroom issues and ready to do whatever consequence you say you will do.
Be fair to all and have high expectations for all!!!
-Lou Rodeheaver, Ph.D, NBCT
1. Know your stuff. It doesn’t matter what you teach. You need to be an expert in your subject for your sake as well as the students’. An adolescent can smell a fake a mile away.
2. Be slow to speak, slow to anger and quick to listen. Listen to your administration. Listen to your colleagues if they offer to help you navigate your first year. Listen to your students.
3. Take the time to get to know your students. Create a community of learners in every class you teach so that the kids think of your classroom as a safe place.
4. Every one of us cannot sleep the night before school – and most of us start to become anxious about 2 weeks before school begins! This does not improve much over time!
5. Greet everyone. Say “hello” to the custodians, secretaries, cafeteria people, hall monitors, etc. because each one of us is valuable. Every year I see a group of kids with one of the custodians, another group talks to the hall monitor, some kids pass by the main office everyday just to talk to the office assistants. We are all important and we are all influencing young minds.
6. Remember that not every student is an extrovert. so when that student isn’t volunteering, it is not because he/she doesn’t want to participate, it may be that that student is a thinker before a speaker.
7. If you find yourself among colleagues who cannot resist verbally tearing apart other colleagues or students, find another place to eat lunch or have a break. That kind of negativity is infectious and you need to keep your mind clear of nastiness. What good ever comes of that?
8. Don’t be afraid to laugh.
9. At the beginning of each school year we tend to go through about two weeks worth of material in 4 days because we are talking fast due to nervousness. Plan more than you think you’ll need so you won’t be left with dead time at the end of the period. You will slow down as time goes by.
10. When I was doing my student teaching one of my cooperating teachers used to sit in the back of the room with two signs. One said “slow down” the other said :You’re talking like a dictionary.” I have been very grateful to that man over the years because he called my attention to my pacing and then to the way I was explaining something. The second sign meant that someone who already knew the subject could follow the explanation – but not 14 year-old kids.
11. All students are not the same. Resist judging a book by its cover. The quiet student may have a sick parent or be worried about the custody battle between two people who really don’t want him. To the best of your ability, be kind to every student.
Let All your students know you care about them and be consistent so that students know what to expect when particular actions occur. Classroom climate is important – teach procedures instead of rules that tend to be negative. This puts a positive spin on an otherwise negative situation. Finally – Say what you mean and Mean what you say. ( Never put out a consequence for something if you can’t follow through.) If you put out a consequence and then change your mind several times – you loose. Students know you will cave and they are in charge.
Do not alienate your students, even the most difficult ones. Alienation causes them to fight learning from you.
Hello New Learning Practitioners,
One week before you are scheduled to come to school (if possible):
- Find out who the most highly effective teacher is in your department or school. Ask the secretary, your department head, and then your assistant principal of curriculum or principal in that order. If you get two responses with the same name then ask this particular teacher to be your mentor. If you get three different names, then speak with all three and choose one or all to be your mentor. Build a relationship immediately. Ask for their favorite instructional videos to learn from. Shadow your mentors. Get all the scaffolding you can get for yourself starting out. Then gradually remove those scaffolds as you develop. This is how eagles learn to fly.
- Find out who your students are as soon as you can. Collect their parents’ twitter account and mobile phone numbers from your teacher portal. Obtain a free Google Voice phone number for texting and/or calling all parents. Build a relationship with all parents via texting right away (even if your assignment gets changed the first week of school then start over with the new parents). Introduce yourself by sending a text before school starts.
The week school starts:
- Shadow your mentor(s) during every one of your planning periods for the week (10-20 minutes).
- Ask your mentor(s) to observe your class for the first 10 minutes (or longer) during their planning period because they know what the administration will “look for”.
- Get to know and build a relationship with all of your students instantly as you greet them at your door every school day. Let them know that you care about them.
- Follow your school campus and district requirements, policies and routines for the first week of school and build a relationship with all staff members every moment you’re at school.
- Send a positive text to all parents about their child on the first day (after school). Send texts and/or tweets to the parents regularly in lieu of a newsletter.
- Reflect on your instruction after each class. Along with your mentor(s) if at all possible.
- Ask your mentor(s) about data-driven instruction, common core standards, curriculum maps, lesson plans etc. in preparation for the next week. This is always a work-in-progress.
- Find out what is your district’s, school’s mission statements are and the principal’s vision for the school. Embrace and follow them.
The initial steps above are pivotal in your new educational practice. Focus on building relationships from the onset. Happy Learning!
-Portia Lewis, MBA
1. Make positive contacts with each family as soon as possible. The effort put into building family relationships will be worthwhile as the year progresses.
2. Be sure to treat the custodians, secretaries, and paraprofessionals with respect and show appreciation for their efforts. When you are having some sort of unexpected crisis or need something they will help you out.
The one thing that I have to remind myself- whatever the required task- lesson plans, progress reports, a syllabus, a website – whatever it is: It doesn’t have to be perfect- it just has to be. If you are required to complete something- just do it. If it’s wrong, someone will tell you but at least you have put forth the effort to do whatever is required. I have been teaching nearly 30 years, and I am sometimes paralyzed about what I should do, because its not perfect. Just do the best you can within the timeframe that you are given. Ignoring it is the worst thing that you can do.
Focus your first few weeks on how you will manage your classroom. How will students turn in papers? How will you distribute work back? How will they get materials? What happens if they need to sharpen or get a pencil? Classroom Management may seem like it is just about discipline but it is more about flow. Watch other teachers classroom and find a flow that works for you.
Start class right away as the bell stops ringing. I’ve seen teachers get bogged down answering questions or returning papers. Learning time goes right up to the ending bell as well.
Remember to treat them the way you would want your own children and grandchildren to be treated. Never forget that you are teaching to the future of our world, so make it a better world!!
My advice is to develop a positive relationship with the parents of your students. Communicate positive things that have happened through notes, email or even a phone call. Too many times we only communicate with parents when something is wrong. Positive messages go a long way!
Ask for help. Don’t try to do it alone.
Get a good night’s sleep, arrive early, and be prepared. You will probably feel anxious on your first day, but remember that your students are as well. So make them feel at home and talk about how excited you are to get to spend the next year with them. Plan activities that will help you get to begin to know one another. Enjoy your first day of your teaching career. Smile. Have fun.
-Mary P. Clay, M. Ed.
My advice to new teachers:
• be yourself and have fun. Students see your passion and feed off it.
• don’t try to be friends with your students. You role is to lead and guide, not friend. You may eventually be friends, but that is not your ultimate goal.
• respect is earned not expected. As your students get to know you, they will grow to respect you if you show that you have a heart for children and learning.
• take baby steps when first stating a lesson or unit…or year for that manner. You are growing as a teacher. Students respect teachers who show they are learning as well.
• communicate often with families and community. Be as transparent as possible.
• Enjoy!!! Learning is not a race, but a journey. You are responsible for one of the legs in the journey of your students. Make the most of it.
• don’t let district-driectyed curriculum get in the way of what you know students need to learn. If in don’t look at standards for your subject.
Take control of your class from the moment you step in./ Give hope to all your students. Meet their needs individually. Plan for the various learning style
ALWAYS be consistent, follow through and be ready to apologize when you were/are wrong. Talk in a soft voice, they will have to listen carefully! Never yell. GOOD LUCK, teaching is a gift the students are the prize.
My advice for first year students would be:
Give yourself a break, you will not accomplish ALL the things you want right away! For example, take 1 unit each year and focus on making it great, then the next year pick a different one to focus on and eventually you will have a year of lessons you constructed the way you prefer.
Just remember that teaching follows that wonderful logistical curve, straight up the first few years and then it levels out. Keep in mind that you are doing the best you can right now and you can only do that, do not compare yourself to other teachers who have been doing it for many years, that’s not fair to you. However, be open for advice from veteran teachers, they can offer you a wealth of information that was not taught to you during your teaching credential program (classroom management, administrative duties, etc). And most importantly, remember why you wanted to be a teacher in the first place and keep that in perspective, perhaps post it somewhere you will see everyday on your desk at school to remind you, this way the details of managing everything else won’t bog you down and burn you out. Good Luck!!!!
Take the time both to make the teaching space yours and to leave space for your students to claim the learning space for themselves.
My advice to a new teacher would be, “You are on a high learning curve, be flexible, reflect and learn from every incident.” Have a great day!
Be authentic and never assume what you think your students will know!
Be kind to the secretaries and janitors.
The best advice I give to new teachers is for them to sit down before the year starts and write themself a letter. They should include why they chose to go into teaching and what difference they want to make. Once completed, put in envelope, seal it and address it to themself. Give it to a trusted friend and ask them to mail it to them in January or Feb. The letter will arrive just about the time they start to question their choice. It had rejunivated many a young teacher!
Two pieces of advice for Day One:
1. Dress in an outfit that makes you feel confident and professional. And then take lots of deep, slow breaths before you meet your class. This will clear your mind and help you feel and appear poised!
2. As you meet your students, really, really, look at each one with a genuine and welcoming smile. Try to learn each student’s name within the week and one specific item about each to help you begin to know the student as an individual.
Relax and enjoy being with the kids!
Although you need always to show energy and enthusiasm every class every day, the key is not personality; it’s planning. As Dr. Phil Schlechty has said, our primary task is “to invent work kids find engaging” about “stuff they don’t care about but need to know.” You decide on the necessary lesson content/goals and then design instructional activities that students can’t help but find even grudgingly engaging to get them to your goals.
The best advice I can give to new teachers is MODEL!! It is essential that you model expected behaviors and that you create a chart. Students need t have clear expectations. Remember to model and practice the expected behaviors not just for hallway and classroom behavior, but for daily literacy and math as well. Know that these will need continued practice. Good Luck!!!
My advice is make a new friend and laugh at all the craziness that can sometimes come your way. Find a way to keep that smile that your students need to see.
The best advice I can offer is, “don’t be afraid to ask for help.” When I think back to my start, which was at my former high school among my very own former English teachers. I remember having to prepare for a lesson on teaching Iambic Pentameter. I had the general knowledge and I certainly could have flubbed my way through the introduction, because we always know just a little more than the kids, most days. But I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to make sure I knew it well and could teach it well. I’m a hands on, visual learner. I asked my former English teacher, “Dee can you teach me how to teach Iambic Pentameter?” Another former teacher was in the area and decided to give me a hard time, which really bothered me and made me feel inadequate. Months later, in a social setting, I told that teacher how her comment made me feel. Her response was, “I actually thought it was pretty brave and courageous of you to admit you needed help. I don’t know anyone else who would have done that.” In my mind, I never considered wasting time trying to “read” about Iambic Pentameter or try to “study” how to teach it. I wanted to know how to do it and I wanted to learn to do it well. When student learning is in jeopardy, asking someone else to teach you, if you need it, is an absolutely amazing strategy for your own success; plus, flattering the veterans around you, who often feel inadequate next to the “new” teachers, will work wonders for your collegial relationships!
Best of Luck!!!
Take the time, usually a few weeks, to establish your classroom culture. This includes building a community of learners who support and encourage each other, with you as their guide. It’s like team sports– each player has a role, and you are the coach. Teach them the rules of the game, which should be few, but really focus on the plays– that is, the procedures (and there should be many of those) that will make ALL the difference in how your year goes.
My guidance for new teachers would be:
- Keep prayer, your family, and church a part of your support system_ an active part it is so important to have the people important to you involved in what you do; they know you, and can help when things get tough_ even when you don’t ask_ because they know you; they will see your need on your face, in your body language, and your interactions (or lack thereof) with them; they can also help you to pull away from it when you really need to and won’t of your own accord
- Have a support system at school _ outside of your grade level team
- your team may be dealing with all the same stress; you will need them, and work closely with them, but also have someone outside of your grade level and age bracket: they will bring a different perspective and wisdom
- Designate time for YOU; it is mandatory, even if it’s just 30 minutes…it could be a designated day, 1/2 day, special outing, walk, bike ride….but something just for you, when you’re not doing/thinking school (Caveat: It is not easy to do!)
- Keep yourself healthy: SLEEP! EAT RIGHT and drink plenty of water!
-Sandy B. Carter, M. S./CIA
Invest time to set up your classroom BEFORE the workdays even if you have to do it on your own time. Knowing your classroom is ready will diminish your stress as you sit through countless staff meetings.
Welcome to the fraternity of educators! You are entering a truly unique profession. Few people are capable of influencing positive changes in others as educators are not only by the content we present but by our personal and professional example. May you grow and watch your students grow as you begin your amazing career. God bless.
I guess mine would be-build those relationships needed for reaching all students. My first year, it was all about “me”. “My classroom, my gradebook, by tests, etc.” I had been selected as the #1 new teacher candidate and had many veteran teachers assigned to come and watch my questioning style, etc….so I thought I was a big deal…..until the day one of my students quietly stopped me in the hallway and said, “Ms. Murdock, I don’t have my homework today. I’m so sorry.” And I replied, as I kept walking, “Well, you know the drill.” As I walked away I heard a small sob. I turned around, and she was crying. I went to her and asked her what was wrong. She told me her family had been at the hospital most of the night and her grandpa had passed away.
I felt 2” tall and feel that God placed that situation in front of me during my first year because from that moment forward…it was all about the students and I was forever changed……I hugged her and then the lens of my life, my planning, my teaching, became based on a productive, high expectation, consistent, deeply understanding relationships.
My first piece of advice would be to breathe! Greet the students at the door, make them feel welcome, they will be as nervous as you are. Make sure you have a plan for the day – rather have too much planned than too little, you cannot be sure how quickly students will fly through your plans or if they might need more support or time. Be sure to make your behavior expectations clear from the get go so that the students understand what you want to see on a daily basis. Allow time to walk amongst the students as they work so you can be sure to speak to everyone personally that first day – they will remember if they were noticed or not. But most of all – HAVE FUN! You have worked hard to get here, so enjoy every moment! Good Luck!
Look around your classroom. It is a welcoming environment that reflects learning as the number priority? Student engagement begins with a sense of shared purpose and respect.
Welcome to the most preeminent profession in the world where you will positively encourage and educate our future world leaders! With that being said, take a deep breath and know you are ready for a fantastic year with your students building professional and appropriate relationships with each of them. Students must feel their academic achievements are your largest accomplishment.
On the first day get to know your students, begin with building relationships. Also, know how each child is to go home as we would not want to misplace anyone’s kiddo on the first day of school Enjoy!!
Forging Forward to the First Week of School:
- Carve out time to have a class meeting to create and agree upon Classroom Rules and Procedures.
- Review rules and produces during the first week each day to instill consistency for you and your students.
- Create & Post Rules: no more than 5 (It would be best if you created the first rule-something you must have in place a non-negotiable.)
- Assign students a number. This will be beneficial when posting student data on your data wall and lots more.
- Assign students a classroom job
- Determine and articulate how and where students should turn-in their assignments not forgetting to place their assigned student number on all papers.
- Take your students on a walking tour of the school for safety reasons in addition to reiterating school- wide hallway behavior expectations.
- Review the daily schedule. Students often feel scared or anxious during the day. To alleviate any anxiety post and review the daily agenda and the student planner.
Wishing you to utmost BEST on your first teaching experience.
I have been an educator for 42 years. Although education has changed tremendously during these years, there are some things that never change. What was most important in 1972, my first year, remains the most important today: our children. Their faces have changed. Their clothing has changed. Their speech and slang has changed. Their technology has changed. Change is the major constant in education! But children are children. They are the reason we exist as educators. I challenge each new teacher to look at and really see each child every day. I challenge each teacher to listen to and hear each child every day. Children will tell us what they need. And regardless of each child’s background and socio-economic circumstances, each is worthy of being treated with utmost dignity and respect. Each gives back what he or she is given. It is so very easy for all of us adults to get so caught up with overwhelming responsibilities that we forget what is still the most important: our children.
Go slow to go fast. Slow and steady wins the race. There will be so much thrown at you your first year that your head will begin to spin. Remind yourself on a daily basis, why you became a teacher in the first place. Write it down and post it where you will see it before your students enter the room. Remember, loving students and establish a solid and appropriate rapport with them will serve you well all the days of your career. Good Luck!!!
Take the time to plan policies and procedures for common tasks such as entry, exit, bathroom breaks, tardies, absences, transitions, etc, then take the time to practice them with students.
-Dr. Dorlinda Carlson
My advice, after supporting new teachers in my school district for almost 15 years is to take small steps – set short term/range goals that can be accomplished! Celebrate your accomplishments! Never be afraid to start over again on a Monday morning or after a workday or break with reinforcing and rehearsing your procedures! And most importantly, REFLECT daily! Start now – some sort of journal or log to reflect on what went well, what did not, and how you can improve in the future. Good luck!
-Jennifer C. Smith, Ed.S.
Create a safe environment for learning that includes high expectations. It is important to build relationships with your students, parents and the school community. Reach out to people by talking, phone calls, newsletters, blogs and inviting them to visit for special events. When you connect with your students and they know that you care about them, they will respond in the classroom.
This was shared with me by one of my educational professors and I will share with you: Stay out of the teacher’s lounge during your first two years of teaching. Do not make that your place of refuge. The conversations are not usually rich nurturing conversations for novice teachers. The conversations in the teacher’s lounge may overwhelm you more than you already are; may cause you to dislike students or poison your mind to a particular group of students; may cause you to dislike your chosen profession; and may cause you to pick up unprofessional habits. STAY OUT OF THE TEACHER’S LOUNGE!!!!
Know your students. I see the teacher as the most powerful force for change. Students don’t need a buddy but need you to be their advocate. Believe that all of your students can learn and be successful.
-Kathy M. Smith
If I had any advice to give a new teacher, I would encourage every them to always keep at the back of their mind, that the children that they are about to work with are the little treasures that parents have left in their care. They are the best they have and there are no better ones left at home. It is therefore so important for any teacher to believe that these are true treasures and to unfold all the lawers that may hide the true heart and soul of these little guys who have sometime learned very young to recoil and protect themselves from potential harmful forces.
Every child is a wonderful person in becoming, a diamond in the rough and he or she have no idea about that potential. It is the teacher’s job to reveal some of the wonderful attributes that this little person can share in this world!
In education nothing goes as planned so BE FLEXIBLE!
Your lesson plans can be impeccable and the least little thing can disrupt your well planned day. GO WITH THE FLOW AND ADAPT! Sometimes the interruptions and changes enhance lessons is ways you never thought of.
Remember, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – it’s all small stuff – children are most important.
Who you are as a teacher strongly reflects who you are as a learner…know your own narrative and honor the narrative and lived experiences of your students.
Relax, take the time to really notice your students and look for something to appreciate about them right from the beginning! They can’t learn from you until they feel some sort of emotional connection! It’s a wonderful ride, teaching.
-Phyllis Horst Nofziger
Dear New teacher, Being an effective manager of classroom behavior is key!! Remember to consistently use plenty of SHORT attention grabbing activites for students as well as SHORT brain break excerices.. lots of ideas for elementary age students.. look online, vary , rotate and pull them out of your sleeve many times during the day! Your students will retain so much more information when they are cognitively engaged. Don’t shy away from trying new ideas out and sharing them with other teachers! Best wishes!
In my opinion the best essential advice for starting teachers:
- Curiosity (who is this child, where is he going for, what are its needs to develop etc.)
- Relationship ( to the children, parents and your collegues)
New teachers should mingle up with students and be patient to get to know about each individual.
My best advice is Number 1: to allow your love of learning to be greater than any fear you have of messing up! The students will appreciate your genuine love better than the most perfectly planned lessons.
Number 2: Take time for yourself. Get a pedicure or a massage or whatever it is you need to feel pampered.
Learn from those you respect,
Be flexible like bamboo,
Practice honesty, integrity, and kindness.
1. Don’t look intimidated, kids will eat you for breakfast.
2. Be firm and consistent in everything. This is the most difficult part for many.
3. Don’t take it personal and don’t take it home. Leave your work issues at work.
– Your friends/family have been waiting for you all day, not the issues at work.
4. Set realistic goals and don’t overload yourself. You are not the sacrificial lamb; many have tried and have burnt out.
5. Enjoy your weekends and try to avoid taking work home.
6. Enjoy your classes; kids are wonderful, even on the tough days.
7. Know you are here for the students and they are here for you.
8. Don’t drink too much water, bathroom breaks may be few and far between.
9. Avoid the quackers and yackers, they are cancer to your soul and well-being.
10. Make friends with an experienced teacher and learn from him/her.
11. Avoid trying to do all of the previous 10 all at once.
12. SLEEP AND EXERCISE REGULARLY.
Believe in yourself and understand your strength better.” Parents, students, etc may compare you with other teachers who are more experienced than you but everyone has had a “first time”. Each person is special in his/her own ways. You might even come across students who are rude and say things like “My last year’s teacher was better”, “You are evil, … They will eventually accept you (might take some time in some cases) when you love, care, inspire and teach them sincerely.
Keep trying to do your best, “Try to be a life long learner”and love the kids whose lives are precious. Love changes everything!
Best wishes to all new teachers.
Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of water. The first week will be one of the most exhausting of your life..
Don’t sweat the small things, work on building a relationship with the students the first few days…
My advice for new teachers: try not to be too hard on yourself! You will make mistakes with students, parents, and colleagues. They are opportunities for growth. Teachers are by nature perfectionists and can get frustrated when things done go as we would like. Another opportunity for growth.
Try to find the teachers and support staff in the building who keep a positive attitude and are supportive. STAY away from the gossips and those who bring down the morale of the building. It won’t take long to spot them.
From your first interaction with your students begin building a relationship with them. Whether or not they have experienced success in the past; they will take your lead on how THIS school year will remembered. A strong relationship and sense of community will provide your students the perfect stage to shine. Put a smile on your face, look them in their eyes, and don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself !
Take a deep breath. Start your rituals and routines right away. Do something fun to get to know your students. Smile. Over plan. Don’t worry if everything doesn’t go the way you planned. Smile.
Always want to make a difference in a child’s education and stay positive.
Be patient and realize you cannot do everything the first day, week or
even year. Give your very very best and remember it is all about the
children…understand that change will happen and expect it, not resent
it. No one knows your students better than you so make decisions with the
most informed position you can take; don’t be afraid to be wrong or ask
-Patricia A. Palmer, Ed.D.
Be the kind of learner you hope your students are- be engaged, ask questions, learn from everyone you meet, be open minded, have fun!
No one knows it all! Let teaching be a lifelong journey, and you be a lifelong learner! Let God guide your steps and don’t allow people to make you sell your soul to belong! Contrary to some popular opinion, you don’t have to fit in to get in – just love children and study your craft. Do your homework! You have chosen the greatest profession in the world – teaching our children. And remember, everyday is a new day!
I encourage you to find and embrace a theme song, quote, or motto. One of the three questions I ask my students on the first day of school is just that, “What is your theme song, quote, or motto?” Those that choose not to entertain my question with a quality response earn the year’s first homework assignment. There are always some entertaining answers, but also some truly enlightening ones.
There are mountains of writing on inspiration, teaching, and reaching goals. If those work for you, let them drive and inspire you. If not, search back in the crevices of your mind and find those words that have stayed with you. There is a good chance that you can apply them to what you will do in the classroom, how you approach education, and why you have answered the call. Clearly, this profession is not for everyone. I welcome you with a firm handshake and a hardhat.
I will quickly take you through three of my sources of inspiration.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke about the “fierce urgency of now” with regard to pushing governments to protect human rights. Then offered one of the truly great lines ever spoken, “This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.” Please recognize the urgency of what we do.
“Si j’avance, suivez-moi! Si je recule, tuez-moi! Si je meurs, vengez-moi!” I do not speak French and my pronunciation of that would be disastrous. Yet, Henri de la Rochejaquelein’s middle command has resonated with me from the first time I heard it, “If I retreat, kill me!” That is dedication to a cause.
Ralph Wilson’s fantastic work, Invisible Man, concludes with the line that anchors much of what I believe teaching and, truly, life is about. “Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?” There is a crowd of meaning in that and I will leave you to take from it what you want.
Teaching is unquestionably challenging. Unquestionably rewarding.
-Joshua D. White
Stay positive. You will be tired, and overwhelmed, and feeling the burden of politics and opinions during the year. There is a lot that can suck the joy out of the profession. Your goal should be to remain positive. Surround yourself with people who demonstrate that quality. If the lunchroom is negative, remove yourself from that environment. If teachers whine and grumble, find others who are optimistic and happy. Negativity breeds negativity. A happy spirit will make your year fabulous. Positive people are not naive–they know what is happening and why everything is not fabulous, but they choose to face problems a different way. If you can make that one characteristic yours, you will survive the year, and you will always fondly remember your first year of teaching.
My second piece of advice is to choose one night of the week to not bring home schoolwork. It will always be there. You may have to work ahead a little bit to make this happen, but if you have one night that is yours, you will not lose yourself. You will be able to keep your sense of self, spend quality time with others who mean a lot to you, and the stress relief is worth its weight in gold. Do not feel guilty about choosing one night–instead, enjoy it. I wish I had started my career with this goal. Instead, it took me fifteen years. I have been less winded at the end of the year because of this one change.
The best advice that I can offer new teachers is: Do not try to do everything your first year. Do all of the required things and pick a few special things you really want to do well. If you try to be too perfect, you will wear yourself out too quickly. Take care of yourself. This way you will have many years to become the best teacher you can be.
When the frustrations come, remember the students (and adults) who are NOT the cause of your frustration. Remember why you chose this profession to begin with!
Get to know your students as people, and establish a relationship with their parents. Getting the parents as educational partners will help you and the child.
Education is learning from one another.
My advice to brand new teachers is to get to know their students first and foremost. I preach to my teachers and staff to develop a professional relationship with their students that goes above and beyond the academic part. When a student believes that they can trust you they will do anything to develop the skills that are necessary to succeed. So my advice for the first day or so is to learn their students names and their previous success and current challenges. Over time this will be their greatest allay.
f you show students that you care about them as individuals – not just their success in your class, but their interests, their achievements, their dreams – they will be more open to your instruction. They don’t need another friend. But all students can use more people who think they are worthy.
Recognize the uniqueness, even quirkiness, of each child and fall in love with the challenge of meeting their learning needs. D
-Diana Howard, Ph.D.
Get a mentor who can teach you about the cultural expectations of your school.
Learn who the best teachers are in the building and go watch them teach.
-John E. Jeffries
The single best thing I think I’ve done is NEVER FAKE IT. The first day of classes I tell the kids that I’m running a million things in my head at the same time, and will mess things up often. I keep a big tub of individually-wrapped mints, and will throw a mint to any student who catches a mistake, so the whole class can get it right. The kids love the treats, and they walk off thinking that their teacher knows EVERYTHING. Go figure.
Good teaching occurs throughout your school. Watch and listen; observe master teachers as often as you can. If you are fortunate you will be paired with a caring mentor; if not, find your mentor.
Keep your focus on the students and their learning. Teaching is not about you.
Take it all in stride and know that each day you have an opportunity to touch a young heart. Don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed or don’t know many things. It’s admitting that you need support and reaching out that will grow you and make you a remarkable educator.
-Diane Y. Campbell
Remember each student by name and comment on something they have done that day (in my first year I kept a checklist of names and marked each name off so that I knew I had not missed anyone). Comments ranged from acknowledging their good deeds, appearance, attitude, work, work habits and so on.
My daughter in her first year taught a behavioural class with learners having multiple problems. Once a week she phoned their homes to let the parents know how much she appreciated the child. If there was nothing positive to say, she didn’t call the home. The kids within a couple of weeks were on their best behaviour and eagerly waited for the phone to ring.
Embrace the optimism you will feel as you begin – the voice which tells you — you are about to change lives, inspire minds, and shape the future. Then do everything you can to sustain throughout your career that optimism and belief in your ability to teach. A reality: there will be events and voices that may weaken your optimism, even wound it, but do not let those conditions extinguish the optimism—your golden efficacy.
Know your students. Work hard; keep your expectations high of them. But most important—keep your expectations high for yourself.
-Sandra Powell Mitchell, Ed.D
1. Say to yourself “Yes I can”. If you don’t think you can , you won’t be able to do a good job.
2. “Listen”: verbally and body language of the students’ communications. If communication is one of the 21st century skills we want the students to put in practice, then the teachers have to model how to do it.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask fellow teachers…
4. Teachers have to know their students so well that the class has to be A. Interesante, B. Relevante C. Pertinente (cultura) C. Pertenente (belong to and owning…) D. Significante ( must have meaning for the students) and E. Constante (This is not a one time shot, it must be always). My last suggestion is: F. Explain to the students how the brain works and how they can use it to learn better. Their “nucleus accumbens” will take care of the rest.
-Raymond J. Wennier
Welcome to the world of teaching and learning. You are entering the greatest profession in the world. We make all other professions possible. We create possibilities for others. As you enter this career path, always remember to look at every student as if they were your own. With this perspective it will help you make the best decision for each child individually as well as the whole collectively.
Create a positive classroom environment with high expectations. Have clearly laid out procedures for managing your class, including everything from what students should do if they need to use the hall pass to how they should physically move into groups. You’ll learn a lot so try to reflect on each day by writing in a journal or your plan book; even if you just spend only a minute jotting down what you’ve learned, it will help you improve this year and beyond. Wishing you the best.
-Steven W. Burr, M.Ed., NBCT
My advice to new teachers is this: Align yourself with a veteran teacher, who is still excited and POSITIVE about his / her career. They can help you in so many ways – advice, wisdom, and most importantly, someone who will listen and respect you!
Give your Best at ALL times. Never give up and Never give in. Keep Pressing toward Mark of Excellence with your Students!!!!!!
-Reverend Harold S. Booker I
Model everything you do, especially your rules and procedures. Sometimes we assume our students know and understand what we are asking of them, but school is like a whole new world to these students, and we should assume nothing.
I would suggest to find a good mentor in your subject area in your building or school district and take one good idea from him/her and try it. Then you can adjust it over the year or throw it out if it doesn’t work for you. The biggest thing here is to take one, if you try too many, you will soon get frustrated.
My advice to new teachers is: don’t feel or think that you have to work alone, that you have to know everything and that students know much more than you think.
Best wishes for a great, exciting, and enlightening school year.
-Gwendolyn Kinard, Ph.D.
Being a brand new teacher takes more time than you think. You are learning all new curriculum, the culture of your building, and becoming a part of a teacher team. Take the time to get to know your students and build a relationship with them and their parents from the start.
I remember I wrote a welcome letter to my homeroom students and then followed it with a phone call the week before school started. Introduce yourself and let them know your expectations and let them tell you a bit about their kids. I just made five phone calls each day that week. It was one of the best moves I made. Parents and students knew that I cared about them and the job I was about to begin. Forming strong relationships with parents during those first few weeks helped when I had to deliver difficult messages later on during the year.
The amount of time invested at the forefront paid off exponentially as time ticked on. Never forget a written letter and phone call in the age of technology can still be one of the best moves!
1. Be prepared – planning should take about 85% of your time (especially at the beginning of your first year). Even if you collaboratively plan with other teachers, you must still study and learn how to make it your own lesson (especially true when you know your students).
2. Really know your students. This is the key to learning and your success as a teacher. You must know about your students’ prior knowledge (vocabulary and procedural skills) , their personal interests, their attitudes and likes and dislikes about school/content areas, their readiness (skills),their learning preferences, and their mindset (growth or fixed) about learning. The biggest challenge is meeting the needs of all students.
3. Procedures, procedures, procedures. Being clear about what you want in your classroom is essential to managing a classroom. You must decide what students will do in your classroom per their actions and behaviors and how they will do these procedures. Many times teachers will identify actions as a behavior problems when it is actually a lack of procedures. There are procedures for everything – entering the room, exiting the room, sharpening your pencil, passing forward papers, etc. The teacher should tell, model, and have students practice procedures with feedback and then time for more practice. The first two weeks of school should be focused on teaching/practicing the procedures and getting to know your students. This will make your life so much easier.
4.Teach your students how to learn. This is the “learning how to learn” part of teaching. Many times we are very focused on content, but it is the literacy skills – reading, writing, listening and speaking, the standards for mathematical practice, organizers, note-taking, use of technology, collaboration, thinking and reasoning critically, discussions, problem solving, etc that are the skills that make learning “stick”. Spend time teaching your students how to participate in a discussion, how to take notes, etc. The pay off is year long and many times life long – well worth the time invested.
5. Formative assessments are critical to learning. Formative assessments, both formal and informal, should be used throughout the lesson. This data informs the teacher (per instruction/learning) and informs students about their progress per learning targets.
6. Be kind to yourself – you will make mistakes. Get plenty of rest. Remember to be flexible – the other person you can really control is yourself. Dress professionally. Remember to use good manners. Go slow – don’t try to do too much at one time.
New teacher advice: ASK FOR HELP. Just because you have a college degree, does not mean you should know everything on day one. Don’t reinvent the wheel.
The best advice that I can give to a new teacher is to be different and take risks.
-Michael B. Delaney
Relationships begin on day one – so smile. Don’t wait until Christmas like conventional wisdom advises.
Along this beautiful journey there will be many ‘dream killers’. These are situations, circumstances and unfortunately sometimes people whose purpose is to get you to forget why you chose this career. Remember teaching is a privilege; not a right. Those kids need you, so go ahead, be their hero no matter what. We welcome you!
I think it’s very important for new teachers to understand that they have to design lesson plans that will meet the needs of their students and not focus on lesson plans that we may really like.
When you think you have the most challenging student ever, don’t dwell on it–there is an even more challenging one out there!
- Your relationship with each student is more important than what you teach. Try to connect with each student for a moment each day.
- Students learn from interacting with each other. Look for methods that allow daily student interaction. Movement and immediate application are very important, too.
- Being passionate about your subject is contagious. Let it show in everything you do in and out of the classroom. Communicate that to parent, students, and the community.
- Offer a parent meeting at the beginning of the year. Communicate weekly with all parents. Give parents instantaneous access to all assignments in multiple formats, including electronic ones.
- Have assignments easily accessible to students in multiple formats, including electronic ones.
- Provide feedback as quickly as possible. Post this for students and parents in multiple formats, including electronic ones.
- Find an experienced teacher or administrator that you admire and with whom you feel comfortable who can serve as a mentor throughout your career. This could be someone who is retired who might have ample time and a flexible schedule.
- Tape your classes. Share tapes with a trusted experienced mentor.
- Take advantage of all classes and training.
- Take advantage of networking through professional associations.
-Beryle Eileen Morlan Ponce
The first day in the classroom for a new teacher is something they will never forget. I teach Science Curriculum and Methods at the Columbia University Graduate Teachers College. I have tried to prepare my students for every unexpected hitch, but in the end they have to think on their feet and do what is best for the children. My advice, “Just listen to your heart and remember, children get one shot at their education-make it the best possible”
-Gioya De Souza-Fennelly
Send “welcome” letters/postcards to your new students before school begins unless you are going to call/or visit their home prior to school beginning. This begins communication with students and parents in a thoughtful manner.
-Marjorie J. Latall
This is my fifth year of teaching and I still get butterflies in my stomach during the first weeks of school.
Teaching in my passion and it is hard work, but in the end you made a Big Difference in a child’s life.
Giving hope and understanding each day to your students.
Just remember to put yourself in your student shoes and everything will be fine.
Before teaching you do have to know your students and they have to know you ( Trust)
Welcome to the wonderful world of teaching.
Be the teacher not a friend!
Know and connect with your students! Accept them for who they are and what they bring to the classroom. Give them hope and acknowledge efforts towards improvement.
Don’t pretend to know everything! Seek help from others.
Dear new teacher,
Be kind to yourself. You will not be perfect, but you will be a great role model if you acknowledge and learn from your mistakes.
You will also find that what works superbly one day may not work at all the next because of so many things that are not in your control. Each class has its own dynamic, its own personality and you will have to adapt, sometimes moment to moment. You need to learn to ride the wave.
At times you will be exhausted, overwhelmed, lonely, frustrated, exhilarated, excited, on top of the world, but you will never ever be bored. You are being entrusted with shaping minds–there is no harder or more important profession.
My #1 advice to new teachers is to network … find a support system — onsite, virtually, content-based, … find different teachers for every facet of teaching … look for those who want to be helpful … and ask for help. As a mentor for new teacher, too often my teachers reflect at the end of the year that they didn’t utilize me enough. Surviving teaching is really a team sport — working together we can help all students achieve success and become productive, ethical citizens in our society.
Welcome to the best and most stressful time of your life–your first year.
You can do this.
Keep at it, and don’t give up on yourself or them.
Find that person who is the ‘good teacher’ in your school–and ask if you can watch them, or use their system.
Ask questions. Believe in yourself.
Collect ideas. Breathe. Learn. Laugh.
We all feel this way.
-Elizabeth Olah Winfield
One of the most important things I think new teachers need to remember is that they need not care if the children in their classrooms LIKE them. The children need to respect their teacher and be able to trust their teacher, and the “liking” will come naturally.
Learn from the more experienced teachers in your building but never be afraid to think outside the box and try new approaches. You may find that the experienced folks learn as much from you as you can learn from them.
My advice is to let your students know you on a personal level. Tell stories about your family and your adventures, and share your interests. Kids will love you and work for you when they see you as a real person.
On those days when you’re feeling down and discouraged, remember WHY you became a teacher. Your passion and beliefs will nourish your soul and give you the necessary energy to persevere.
Greet your students at the door every morning.
Remember to reach the HEART of each
learner FIRST before opening the door to
new learning….then proceed with confidence.
Laugh, network, and take time for yourself. Invite your students to learn along side of you instead of trying to be in front of them. Rewards are few but your impact on individual students is great.
Students won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!
Let every day be a new day! Do not take things personally. Do not harbor resentment for students. They have very short memory. Give them opportunities each day to grow and transform.
-Joy H. Gordon Fernandez
Three things I have learned in over thirty years as an educator:
1. Follow your passion
2. Stay true to the course
3. Build honest and trusting relationships.
These have always worked for me.
As a new teacher I wanted my room to look inviting. I spent time organizing the materials, the desks, the “stuff” of the classroom. Then the students came. While I thought I had figured out all the “how to’s” for doing things in my classroom, when students were right there in front of me I didn’t always remember the details. I found I needed to write down all the procedures for my room so that when students asked questions, I CONSISTENTLY provided the same answer! Over the years it has proven most effective to be able to answer the questions before the students arrive – even more so than having the “stuff” in just the right place. Take the time to figure out how things will work in your classroom: sharpening pencils, an absent student, listing homework, getting a kleenex. As silly as that may seem, the more you know what you want and expect, the smoother your classroom will be and learning can take place! Good luck!
You are about to embark on a most important journey. Although there may be detours along the way, never forget the destination, kids.