My first time in my own classroom was extremely overwhelming. I graduated in December so when I got into my first classroom it was in the middle of the year. I was teaching out of my degree field(middle school) and felt very much alone. There was no one there that helped me because they had me teaching a new program that they needed to implement that year and I was STRESSED beyond myself. It was pure torture.
I was in that school for four months. I was tested by the students, and I spent most afternoons crying in my car at the end of the day. There was little support and I was pleading for help. All I needed was a little guidance but there was none.
My next job was so much easier. I was teaching fourth, fifth, and sixth grade and had all the support in the world. It was night and day with these jobs. I had team teachers that gave me feedback and helped answer my questions. It was amazing. Having other teachers to support me was so helpful my first year teaching.
Now I am in my eighth year teaching and have learned SO much. I will not say that I am an expert because as teachers, we are still constantly students of our profession. However, if I can help a new teacher not want to quit within their first year with the helpful hints that I learned then I have done my job. 🙂
Breathe. Just breathe.
Every day in the classroom is different. You never know what you are going to face. This is actually something that I learned from my apple watch because it was constantly reminding me to breathe. I always thought “um thanks, cause I am gonna forget?” I always thought it was weird.
My apple watch helped me learn to BREATHE in my classroom. When things get a little crazy and do not go your way….BREATHE!!!
When you get called in the office because an irate parent emailed saying you are not catering to Little Johnny like you should…….BREATHE!!!
When you teach a perfectly executed lesson and the students still do not undersand the content……..BREATHE!!!
When you need to make copies before class, but the copier is jammed……BREATHE.
TAKE A MOMENT TO BREATHE!!!
It is okay to tell the students to read, draw, or color for a few minutes so you can take a few minutes to gather yourself and BREATHE! Sometimes that is all it takes to get the day back on the right track. The students need you at your best and this could help center you in the moment.
Do not let your actions show favorites.
This is actually something that I am learning this year.
This is my third year teaching middle school. Yes, as you may be wondering from the above information, it is out of my degree field, and I was not particularly fond of it. Well, I have been in many different grades in the small private school where I have worked the last eight years(see about Jodi section for more info).
My middle school students were having a conversation with me while we had a little free time. They are constantly asking “Hey, which student is your favorite?” My answer is always the same “I love all my students the same.” Most of the time, individual students are the ones that say they are my favorite, but this particular day, I heard them saying a certain student which we will call Little Johnny. It threw me a little because I had to self-evaluate myself and check how I treat all my students.
The more I thought about it, the more I found that I could see how they thought that. What happened with Little Johnny is that we learned how to deal with other due to situations and discussion we had at the beginning of the year. I had no idea with that understanding in how I deal with Little Johnny that the other students would think he is my favorite. I never want my students to feel like I like one more than other. This was on me.
When it comes to dealing with students, there will be some that you do not like. Remember, do not let them see your behavior towards another student as favoritism.
ALWAYS use a seating chart.
Seating charts are a teacher’s best friend. This will be your saving grace.
I have a particular group of five boys in my class that i have to keep separated. There is always one of them in the front row center directly in front of me. The others are in the four corners of the classroom. Every nine weeks I change the seating chart and to their dismay, they are never seated together. I simply just rotate where they are sitting.
There are other teachers that struggle with this group of boys because they do not separate them like they should be. In those class, those students are troublemakers. In my class, they do not have the opportunity because of their distance.
Find a teacher best friend.
My teacher best friends are my sanity. When you get your first job, this needs to be the first thing you accomplish. You will need someone who will encourage you and get you through the year.
You are going to need someone to vent to when times are tough, to watch your class so you can go to the bathroom, and make you laugh when you need it.
Teacher best friends give them best hugs when you need them. Hold them close when you find them.
Find a discipline plan that works for YOU.
My school started a whole new way of disciplining that students and the first nine weeks I was so mad and frustrated because I could NOT get a grasp on it. In order to make it work for me, I took the information they gave me and make a form, with the permission of administration, to document misbehavior and conduct. It took a whole nine weeks, but I finally felt like I became consistent in my discipline system.
You will find that your discipline plan will change and morph as you go throughout your first year or even after years of teaching. Your school will have a way of doing things, but take what they give you and make it your own.
These are a few of my favorite things….
There are so many more tips that I could give because there are so many things that you do not learn in college. You do not get to true experience as a teacher until you are in the classroom on your own. With these in mind, you will be an incredible teacher.
One book that I would recommend every new teacher reading is The First Days of School by Henry Wong. This is the ultimate classroom management book to have in your teacher library. I highly recommend it.