Welcome back! I cannot wait to share Part III of this mini series with you! Over 30 teachers with a combined experience of 170+ years in the classroom have poured out advice.
Again, before we dive into it I have to thank all of the teachers that participated and let you know where to find them in this online teaching community. All of their responses to the given questions will be posted anonymously throughout this series; however, I want you to know where and how to find them online so that you can connect and collaborate with them.
Thank you to all of these lovely ladies for contributing….
Elementary Teacher Instagram Accounts:
Teaching with Behavior – Special education teacher of students with Autism.
Elementary Teacher Blogs:
Middle School Teacher Instagram Accounts:
Middle School Teacher Blogs:
High School Teacher:
Teacher Talk: Advice for Teachers from Teachers
Part III: What advice do you have for 1st year teachers?
- Don’t be afraid to take a risk!
- Find and befriend a veteran teacher to mentor you. Their experience is so valuable.
- Find good mentor teachers and reach out to them. Build your tribe early!
- You’re not going to please everyone whether it’s your students, co-workers or parents so just stay true to yourself and try your best. Also, when you get overwhelmed make a list and tackle one thing at a time.
- Don’t feel like you have to do it all this first year. Ask lots of questions! You don’t have to do “it” like the teacher who shared it with you, make it your own.
- Find something that you can do for yourself for just 1 hour a day. I found exercise to be extremely helpful with the stress and constant thoughts of “to-dos” that I took 1 hour, every day, and exercised. It doesn’t have to be exercise for you, but whatever it is, find it.
- Don’t be afraid to shine, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and spread your passion to others.
- Accept that the to do list will never be done. If you push yourself to getting absolutely everything done before you go home, you’re going to burn out eventually. Make a goal to leave by a certain time every night and do it!
- Take a breath and time for yourself. You DO NOT need to work 80 hours a week.
- Remember why you chose this job. Teaching is hard work but you have a passion for it, so don’t forget it. Your first year is TOUGH but remembering why you became a teacher will get you through it.
- Your room does not have to be perfect nor do your assignments need to be cutesy. The most important thing you need to do is love your kids. Focus on building those relationships because that is essential to your classroom management, parent communication and quality instruction.
- Also I don’t want this to sound like I’m an old grouch but it’s far more important to pick or create projects and assignments that are aligned to the standards than those are are just cute. Trust me, it’s possible to do both, but skip the ones that are just fluff.
- Find your people. They may be on your team, but they may be on a different team, in the office, at a different campus, in a different state, etc. It’s okay to not be best friends with everyone on your team! Just find a group of like minded educators that will be supportive, honest, and challenge you.
- You don’t need to implement everything you see on Instagram and Facebook and Pinterest. Look at all of the awesome ideas you have found and make a list prioritizing them. Implement the first and then you can implement something else if time allows. Trying to do too many things at once, especially as a first year teacher, is a recipe for disaster.
- Don’t compare yourself to other teachers on your campus. Remember, you are a first year teacher, it’s okay to not have it all together! It’s not fair to compare your year one to someone else’s year 3, 6, 9, or even 20! You’ll get there!
- Don’t sell yourself short! If you have a great idea, advocate for it. Yes, you’re new, but you’re also straight out of college and full of great ideas.
- Document everything! From day one start keeping data on your kids behaviorally and academically. It will be so much easier down the line for RTI or other referrals if you have the data you need.
- Organization is your best friend. Figure out a system that works for you. Something that works for others may not work for you & that’s okay!
- Don’t try to plan too far ahead!! Baby steps.
- STOP comparing yourself to all the other teachers you see. Do your own thang! Do the best you can, with that you have, right where you are. Your kids NEED you. You’re right where you are for a reason! Live everyday knowing how important your role as an educator is.
- It is just as important to take care of yourself as it is to take care of your students.
- Don’t try to perfect everything at once! Pick one area to work on each year. Do some research over the summer and focus on that during the year.
- Things will be tough, and you’ll want to give up. Don’t. Cry, drink some wine, go for a run, but don’t give up. Learn from the tough times.
- You have sick days USE them. Look at your contract, ask other staff members or union representatives. Self care is very important, don’t ignore the signs your body is sending you or feel pressured to go to work when you clearly should be home whether its for physical, mental or emotional reasons.
- There’s a lot more paperwork and meetings than you probably saw during your internship, don’t let it stress you out, just take everything one step at a time
- I would tell a first year teacher to not get caught up into buying everything they see on Instagram and Pinterest! I have been there and it’s expensive being a first year teacher however,use your school resources. Find out if your school has a lamination machine, cutting machine, gives school supplies, free printing, etc. and make it work! This will save you so much money during your first year of teaching.
- Don’t compare yourselves to other teachers. Everyone is different and has a different style of teaching.
- Steal ideas from everywhere & keep only the best.
- Find a coworker that you can ask questions. It is OK to NOT know everything. Find someone willing to help with advice or answers.
- You have to be able to laugh at yourself!
- It really is a roller coaster of a year and some days are roller coasters in themselves. Don’t let that make you think you are doing a bad job, because that is normal!
- Get organized with all of your paperwork and try to be a week ahead whenever possible–you can always go back and make changes, but it helps in the long run. Remember that some days will be easier than others. Don’t beat yourself up over a lesson gone wrong or a tough day. Find a mentor and use your first year as a true learning experience. No matter how prepared you think you are, you still don’t know half as much as experienced teachers do, so learn from them.
- Don’t be afraid to share ideas with others and try new things! You may feel like you don’t have anything to contribute because it’s your first year, but that is not true! Your ideas could inject new life into your team and inspire others at your campus. Don’t be afraid of sounding stupid or naive! Your students will only benefit from your willingness to learn, take risks, and experiment. If you have an idea for a lesson or unit, go for it! Don’t feel like you have to strictly “stick to the script” because it’s your first year. Authentic teaching is always the best teaching.
- Surround yourself with positive people. My best friend’s mom used to say “you smell like what you step in”…
- Don’t spend too much time in your classroom.
- It’s okay to cry in the parking lot or on the drive home, but pick yourself up by your boot straps and keep on keepin on for those kiddos of yours! IT WILL GET BETTER. There are going to be days that you want to quit, days that you feel like you’re not making an impact, and days that you lose; your mind, your passion, your heart. This is what burn out feels like. Take the time the day after these days to find the smallest victory. This small wins are what will keep you going and soon, you’ll find more wins than losses in your days.
- Celebrate the success, learn from your failures, and JOURNAL! Write out the funny, sad, frustrating, and happy from each day (or week). It goes by so fast you won’t be able to remember it all.
- ENJOY IT!!! It is so easy to get overwhelmed, feel scared, but take a few times to step back and soak it in. You’ll never get this year back and it’s such a big one!!
- Use your colleagues and their ideas too! Don’t try to do it all on your own.
- Be a frugal shopper, but don’t go crazy raiding the target dollar spot or blow a pay check at the school box store. Decorate your room how you want and see what you need vs what you think you need.
Thank you so much for reading! Whether you’re a first year, fifth year, or twenty-fifth year teacher I hope something in this post inspired you and gives you something to reflect on and take back to your own classroom.