So, you are starting your teaching career? Welcome to the most demanding and difficult, yet rewarding job in the world! What’s that great line in A League of Their Own? Oh, yeah!
“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”
Exactly the same as in the education world. Gosh, it’s hard. But in the same token, it’s great.
After being in education for the past `12 years, here are my 25 key pieces of advice for new teachers. I wish someone would have shared these with me.
- Know the division and school policies. Not knowing is not an excuse. Make sure to read the employee handbook and follow the rules.
- Document everything. Even if it seems insignificant at the time, make notes every time you speak to a parent. Be careful what you put in school email as everything can be FOI’d (Freedom of Information Act). Keep your personal opinions about a student to yourself.
- Ask for help. One thing about teachers, they like to help others. That’s why they joined the profession. Never struggle alone…ask your colleagues for help.
- Never reinvent the wheel. Search Pinterest or reach out to your fellow teachers. Either way, spend your time wisely.
- Create a support network. It doesn’t have to be within your school. Check out Twitter to find like-minded educators. Finding your “tribe” can be sanity saving.
- Dress for success. I’m not referring to wearing a suit daily but you should remain professional and and comfortable. I understand the desire to wear cute shoes but your feet will thank you if you invest in well made, supportive footwear.
- Build relationships with key support staff. The secretary, library, and custodian are all individuals that you will need throughout the school year. Be nice to them. Always.
- Give yourself a break. It DOES get easier.
- Never underestimate the power of parental involvement. Contact students’ parents early and often. For every negative phone call or email you send, send a positive one.
- Have fun and use humor. Students can tell if you enjoy your job and it will assist in helping them learn.
- Invest in a great planner. I highly recommend Erin Condren’s teacher planner. It is glorious.
- Create systems that work for you for grading papers, taking attendance, paperwork, etc.
- Engage students. Engagement=learning. Students who are having fun learning are also less likely to be discipline problems.
- Understand copyright laws and follow them.Model good practice for your students. Never plagiarize and make sure to have references for your materials (if applicable).
- Always have a little stash of papers to grade. (at doctor’s appointments, staff meetings, etc,) so you aren’t grading papers on the weekend.
- Take time to self reflect. It will help you to grow personally and professionally. Teachers should take time to adapt, change, and refine- it’s an integral part of honing your craft.
- Stay away from negative people. It’s contagious.
- Don’t listen to what other teachers say about students. Form your own opinions.
- Be mindful of your social media presence. Teachers are held to a higher standard and perception is everything.
- Test all technology on the school network. You can have the most amazing lesson in the world but if a website is blocked on your school network, you will be wasting everyone’s time.
- Have high expectations for your students. They will rise to the occasion.
- Be consistent in everything- procedures, discipline, and the message you send to your students.
- Write thank you notes. If someone helps you out, writing a quick thank you note goes a long way!
- Celebrate even the smallest victories. Preferably with chocolate.
- Never stop learning. Likely you got into the teacher profession because you love learning. Make sure to keep the curiosity alive.
Veteran teachers, what would you add to the list? What is some advice that you wish someone would have told you when you were just starting out as a teacher?
Wishing all my fellow educators a wonderful 2016-2017 school year!!!