Welcome first-year teachers! My guess is that you are more than excited to start your first year of teaching. This year is going to be great. You are going to learn more this year than your entire four years of college combined. Before you begin to set up your classroom, organize your lesson plans, and come up with your procedures, take a few minutes to digest what the teachers of Education to the Core Facebook Group would have said to their “First-Year Teacher Self.”
Dear First-Year Teacher Self,
I would tell myself to spend all the time needed to get routines in place for first graders. There’s so much pressure to do so many things the first few weeks of school, but skipping a few things that you can catch up on later is well worth getting the routines in place. And practicing them every day for as long as it takes. It really makes the rest of the year so much smoother. Also I would tell myself to buy a wireless doorbell with different chimes. I didn’t hear of this until 12 years in and it has made transitions in my room a piece of cake. Mine has five chimes and I have a remote so I can activate it from anywhere in my room. I highly recommend it. -Alisa C. from First Grade Fun Times
As a first year resource (SPED) teacher I would tell myself “stay calm, you got this !” -Keera G.
It’s good to accept constructive criticism, but don’t let others decide how you run your class. -Jessica R.
There will be really tough days and really good days. Don’t doubt yourself. You are a great teacher! Those who are the toughest to love need it the most! 🙂 -Stacey K.
I would tell myself “you’re about to learn more in the next 180 days than you’ve leaned in 4 years. It’s going to be hard. You’re going to make mistakes, and that’s totally okay. Find a mentor or someone you trust and respect. Vent to them, ask questions, challenge yourself and your kids. And, lastly remember that you are there for the kids – not the other stuff – spend time getting to know them, love them and no matter what, they’ll love you back. ” -Kelly W. from First Grade Fairytales
Just breathe! There were many times during my first year that I would stress about things out of my control. I had to learn to let go and just breathe, step back, and reevaluate the situation. Now – I’m ready for my 2nd year of teaching!! -Jodi H.
Relax, youll be fine. You’ve got this -Jasmine D.
You can’t get it all done and be the best at everything, it’s ok. Pick one subject, teaching strategy, or skill, and focus on that. Kristen from Easy Teaching Tools
Listen more, talk less -Kathy
Always have a plan B. When plan A doesn’t work, you’ll need it! And my favorite…Reach them before you teach them! -Michelle D. from Michelle Dupuis Education
Just know that there are things that you don’t know….no shame in asking for help when you need it. 🙂 -Sheila E.
After 4 decades, I would tell my first year self, “This is your job. It is not your life. Remember to invest consistently in your family and other activities you enjoy. The key word is BALANCE.” -Sandra M.
Be ready to be flexible. Most days do not go according to your lesson plans. In time, you will master the fine art of covering all you need to while still being a great model of flexibility and teamwork. -Christina A. from Sea Bear’s Kindergarten
Breathe, be more flexible & like others have posted Balance! -Marleen G.
“You’ve got THIS” Every student needs you in various capacities. You won’t always meet every need, but your presence in their life will be more than you will ever know. -Amanda H.
Have balance between your personal and professional life. There were days when I would stay working until the janitors had to leave. By the time I got home, my kids were already asleep and I still kept working. They were growing up and I was missing out! -Wendy Z.
My teaching reading professor in college told us something that has stuck with me. It helps me get through the times when lessons don’t go as well as I’d hoped, or when I’m not feeling good enough, or when I’m feeling the daily pressures that we all feel. She said, “Remember that YOU were there for those kids. You may not be the best teacher, but you are doing the best job you can, and you were the one there working the hardest you could to make a difference in those kids’ lives.” -Emily F.
You will repeat yourself. You will repeat yourself. -Kim P.
Your first year will not define you as a teacher. You will learn and grow from it. The first year is the hardest because you don’t have years of experience to draw on – you have textbooks which don’t begin to help in real life. You are going to be an awesome teacher! Love each child who comes into your class. Know that they are all placed in your life for a reason. You teach them but you also learn so much from them. Receive the lessons your first class gives you with an open mind and an open heart. -Kelly M.
It’s easy to get students to like you, but to earn their respect be FIRM in your expectations and discipline from day 1. You can always ease up if necessary. -Karla O.
I would tell myself to create balance in life. School is important but so is home. Be present wherever you are ? -Kerri D.
I would say….make friends with some of the most important people in the school 1. Secretary, she’s not JUST the secretary. We all know that she is really the one who rules the school! 2. Custodians. Important people to have in your corner. Not that you are about to have a fight, but if you ever need furniture moved, something fixed, an accident cleaned up quickly, they are the ones you will call! Treat them nicely! -Tammy O. from Live, Love, Laugh Classroom.
When veteran teachers tell you to take the first two weeks to establish expectations and procedures (and review them daily during that time!!)… DO IT!! I remember thinking I had said the rules and procedures over the first two days and was ready to jump into the routine but quickly found out I should have reviewed them every day and practiced the expectations vs just telling them. -Summer T.
Organize yourself to work late at least twice or three times a week only. Work is endless; health, family, yourself does not. -Leticia G.
Take it one day at a time and don’t sweat the small stuff!!! Building a classroom community is key to teaching! -Jill H.
Don’t be afraid to ask… too many times we don’t want people to know what we don’t understand. It’s better to ask and develop an understanding, than be left behind and miss something important. -Melissa R.
It’s hard! At the beginning of the year you may second guess your career decision. Then, you round the corner after Winter break and it seems better. You can see the difference you’re making. It’s still hard. By March, it’s seems a smidge better. It’s still hard. By the end of the year, you can’t believe you made it! It was awesome, but so hard. You know you’re where you’re supposed to be. Every year gets a little easier in many ways, but there is always something new to keep you on you toes. Hardest, but most rewarding job ever! -Kimberly S.
Teaching is a gift God gave to me. Use my gift to reach all students. Spend time thinking, reflecting, and planning. Make each student feel important, and pay attention to all students equally. Listen to seasoned teachers. Pick and choose from others’ experiences and advice the methods what will work for me. Smile! -Kathy C.
Admit when something doesn’t go as expected. The kids will respect you for it and may have suggestions on how to make it work. -Elizabeth T.
Don’t work late every night, pick one day to work late. Make your copies the week before, you never know when the copier will jam. Don’t work on the weekends, you need to refresh and relax, your time is important too. Don’t forget to fill your desk with your favorite treat, sometime you just need a good piece of chocolate to survive the day. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, it doesn’t mean you are incapable, it’s important to know when to ask for help. -Courtney G.
I remember thinking I had no idea what I was doing, and I was scared to admit it. If I had it all to do over again, I would have asked LOTS of questions, and found some veteran and new teachers to talk to and to ask for help. -Bobbi L.
Before you spend your own money on your classroom see if the school can provide it. Check with your PTA, ask parents, and try Donor’s Choose. I have spent over $20,000 on my classroom in my 20+ years teaching. -Daryl R.
Bon voyage with kids indeed. -Sharma A.
Ask for help and observe other teachers. Above all:DON’T GIVE UP. It takes a while to get good at anything. You will know if you are in the right profession but it takes awhile. Good luck to all the first year teachers out there. Be proud. Never use the word just when you are speaking about being a teacher. -Shirley F.