I know school is starting up soon (especially here in the South), and I know many of you out there are brand new teachers going into the classroom on your own for the first time. When I was a new teacher, I remember trying to get all the advice I could from veteran teachers about what and what not to do during those critical first few weeks.
Link up with me to help all those first year teachers out there! Feel free to add the button below to your post and link it back to this page. Don't forget to link up at the bottom!
Here are a few things I wish I would have known my first year teaching:
1) Have the first week of school planned out to the last little detail. You will change these plans roughly one million times before the first day of school, but if you get some plans down on paper now it will relieve much of your anxiety.
2) Get together with the teachers in your grade level as soon as possible. Reach out to them and ask them as many questions as you can think of. What I'm about to say is really important. Listen to every word they have to say. They have been teaching a lot longer than you, and they have good ideas. Even if you think they have horrible ideas, LISTEN TO THEM AND DO NOT INTERRUPT THEM WHEN THEY'RE TALKING. This is a mistake I think a lot of people make. It is easy to feel like you know it all when you are fresh out of school. It is a humbling experience when you realize how tough teaching is during those first few weeks. I'm not saying it's tough to scare anyone. I just want you to know that you will be glad you made friends with the veteran teachers at your school. If you make yourself an island, you probably won't make it until Christmas.
3) Go along with the established way of doing things in your grade level. I know this may be controversial, but in my opinion will serve you well your first year. If everyone uses the "turn the card" system of discipline, but you want to have your kids "move the clip", don't. Go along with "turn the card" and see how it goes that first year. If you absolutely hate it, that's fine. Go with "move the clip" your second year. Most of the time there is a reason why all the teachers in a grade level do the same thing. For one, they have probably tried many different systems and have stuck with the one that worked. On my team we used a clipboard system where students would get checks by their name. I thought this was the most outdated, terrible system there was when I first started. I came to find out that this was the system that had been used in fifth grade at our school for as long as anyone could remember. It was clear to the admin and the parents what we were doing and why we were doing it. Also, it can be a life saver to be able to say "this is how we do things as a grade level" when you are questioned by admin or parents for a decision you made. Again, you don't want to make yourself an island.
4) When you have a questionable discipline problem, excuse yourself from the situation to go ask a veteran teacher how to handle it. Don't just act on instinct. You will probably end up handling the situation either too lightly or too harshly. This happened to me more times than I can count my first year. You will also help the relationship you have with that other teacher because you are telling him/her that you value their opinion.
5) Before you do any grand unit or activity with your class, run it by your grade level friends first. Say, "I'm thinking about trying _________________ with my class. What do you think? Have you ever tried anything like that before? Am I crazy for trying to do _____________________?" One of two things will happen. They will say "That is a great idea! I think I'll try that too!" Or they will say "That sounds crazy. You're on your own with that one!" Either way, you have told them you're doing it, and you won't look like you're trying to "one up" everyone when they see your elaborate display in the hallway, or hear from the principal about that awesome lesson you did. You do not want to be the one upper. The one upper becomes the island if they weren't already.
Once you get established and show everyone what a fabulous, caring, and dedicated teacher you are, go out on your own and do what you know is best for you and your kiddos. The first year (for me anyway) was all about survival. You will make mistakes, but you will learn from them and you will become a better teacher as a result.
I can't wait to hear everyone else's advice!