First Year Teacher Tips

Instructor: Marquis Grant
So you've decided to be a teacher? Not only are you embarking on a rewarding career, you're committing yourself to educating children at all costs! This lesson will give you a few tips and strategies to get you through your first year.

So... Now What?

There is a great divide between the dream of being a teacher and the reality of being a teacher. Despite formal education, many educators new to the classroom are not prepared for their experiences and quickly find themselves overwhelmed by the expectations and responsibilities that come with the territory. Teachers may enter the profession with good intentions and noble aspirations, visualizing themselves arriving to a perfectly decorated classroom with students sitting attentively at their desks ready and eager to learn. For some new teachers, this may be a reality. For others...not so much.

The first year of teaching can be overwhelming if you are not prepared
First Year Teacher

The following are some strategies that can help during your first year as a teacher.

Set Realistic Goals

There will be days that things won't go as planned. A student will misbehave, a lesson will not turn out the way you thought it would, or an administrator may be snappy towards you. Instead of letting it get you down, plan for the unexpected! Have a pre-planned response for student misconduct; keep a contingency lesson plan on hand in case the original lesson flops; keep smiling even if an administrator is not being on his best behavior. Just don't take it too seriously if you have a bad day. The most important thing is to learn from each situation and move on.

Seek Advice

During clinical and student teacher training, a supervisor will be available to guide you through the classroom experience. Many school districts assign mentors to support new teachers entering the profession. A mentor is generally a seasoned teacher who is enlisted to provide a new teacher support during their first year by offering tips for such things as student achievement, classroom management, lesson plan formatting, and professional development.

Some districts even offer formal teacher induction programs that require the completion of a portfolio of the competencies each new teacher must address. A competency is a skill that is related to the teacher's ability to perform his or her professional duties. The portfolio is a compilation of all the documented efforts that the teacher has made towards completing competency goals. For example, a competency may be:

North Carolina Standard 3: A teacher knows the content they teach. Goal 1: Research and incorporate various literacy skills into content lesson plans.

The new teacher may include in her portfolio a copy of a lesson plan in which she targeted specific literacy skills with relevant activities. She may also include student work samples as supporting evidence that the competency goal had been addressed.

In addition to district-mandated mentorships, it definitely would not hurt to find other veteran teachers who can give you some insight into the teaching experience. Trust me, there will be plenty of people ready to give you their two cents about teaching, the students, and administration. If you feel comfortable doing so, ask a colleague or administrator to pop in from time to time to observe your classroom technique and provide constructive feedback of your strengths and weaknesses.

Be wary, however, of those vets who have nothing positive to say about teaching and are counting down the days until retirement. You need people who have varying perspectives and can share resources and tips on how to navigate the first year without being ready to quit by June.

Plan, Plan, Plan

This may seem like a crazy idea, but expect the unexpected. As a teacher, it is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to classroom organization. Be prepared for every situation that you can possibly imagine - from student behavior incidents to over-planning a lesson. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What will I do if a student is disruptive?
  • What if my lesson does not last as long as expected?
  • How will I handle students who are struggling to grasp concepts?
  • What if I encounter an angry parent?

Having a contingency plan for every situation imaginable will be critical during the first year of teaching
Be Prepared

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