Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it, I have a job! But, they want me to start on Monday….How am I going to organize everything and plan lessons so that I have something to teach next week? And all this in just four days!
I was on my way to Port Hedland (about 1630km north of Perth). There was much to prepare and organize in those 4 days, including:
- Phone the principal of the school to introduce myself;
- Contact the removalist to organize an uplift of all of our possessions;
- Arrange to have our car moved;
- Book flights to Port Hedland;
- Find out about accommodation; and
- Plan, plan, plan, plan…..
To say the least, not a great introduction to teaching!
But, unfortunately, I’ve heard of many similar stories for new teachers. So I want to share with you some of the things that you’ll need to consider when you receive your first teaching appointment.
I’ve also put this information together in a handy downloadable PDF so that you have easy access to it. Fill in your details below so that I can email this to you.
The new teacher’s ultimate guide
Many new teachers face a myriad of difficulties in their first year of teaching. One of the main areas that I experienced and that many teachers have shared with me is that the ‘reality shock’ kicks in.
This is the gap between that ideal that you had pictured in your head, to the actual reality. And for me that started even before I hit the classroom, with only being given four days of notice!
Some of the other factors that are difficult for new teachers include adjusting to all of the demands, dealing with the culture of the school, coping with self-expectations, and meeting the needs of the students.
No matter how challenging and difficult that first year is, there are definitely some rewarding times as well. Meeting the kids, becoming part of the school community, developing relationships with colleagues, individual student successes and becoming more confident in classroom management.
So let’s get on to what you need to consider when getting started.
1. On receiving your appointment check all of the relevant details. This includes your contract, salary, school information, grade you’ll be teaching and meet the principal or another contact person at the school.
2. Check if there is an induction program you need to complete.
3. Visit the school if possible. If you’re moving to a regional/remote location then find out as much information as you can about the school and town you’ll be moving to. Find out what you can about school policies and procedures such as the behavior management policy, assessment, communicating with parents, timetabling and other routines.
4. Obtain a class list and if possible get access to previous student records to familiarize yourself with your students.
5. Prepare the physical space of your classroom, organize your desks, furniture, storage and other supplies.
6. Prepare a draft timetable and add in the fixed times first, such as specialist teachers and other non-contact time. Start plotting in your subjects.
7. Plan your first day and first week. Get yourself a good planner, whether it be electronic or a hard copy and use it to map out how you want the first week to go. There are many types of planners and I’ve put together a list of a few that I’ve tried over the years. You can find them here: Where Can I Get A Teacher Planner?
8. Work out how you’ll deal with the supplies that your students will bring on the first day. Have clearly labeled spaces where students can place their supplies and have a system in place for ensuring this happens smoothly.
The first day/week
9. Arrive early on the first day and check that you have everything prepared for your lessons for the day. Meet and greet your students and parents when they enter the room.
10. Start with a ‘getting to know you’ lesson. You may like to write a letter to your students so they can get to know you and then they can write a reply back to you. You can find other ideas for ‘getting to know you’ lessons here: 3 Getting To Know You Activities You Can Use To Help Create A Caring Classroom.
11. Spend time organizing your desks and work out where each student will sit. Go through procedures with your students and any rules. You can find more ideas for establishing your procedures here: 3 Classroom Management Tips New Teachers Need To Know.
12. Attend to any administrative duties such as taking the roll and knowing if/when you have yard duty.
13. Throughout the first week focus on developing positive relationships with your students and make your expectations about work standards and behavior clear. You can find more strategies and processes that you can put in place to assist with the smooth running of your classroom in the article: 21 Classroom Management Tips And Tricks.
14. Meet with the principal or other senior staff member and discuss any issues you may be having and what is expected of you.
Beyond the first week
15. Reflect on your teaching and if necessary coming to terms with the reality shock. Be FLEXIBLE as you will find that your plans can change at the last minute. Learn from other teachers and adjust your approach if needed.
16. Develop ways to become more efficient in your planning and assessing. You don’t need to assess everything. Think of ways you can streamline your planning and assessing to better manage your time and workload.
17. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel….it’s okay to use proven lesson ideas from books and the internet. Some of the activities and lessons I’ve found most popular and effective include:
Ultimate Digraph Teaching Kit
Phonics Cootie Catchers
Classroom Job Charts
Physical Education Resource Kit
Math Games & Activities
18. Decide how you will adapt your lessons for individual student differences. There are some more ideas about differentiating your curriculum here: A Practical Guide To Differentiated Instruction.
19. Participate in further professional learning. Work out your areas of interest and/or need and arrange to attend further training.
20. Most important is to work out a way to balance your work and leisure life to help you cope with being a new teacher. There are some other suggestions here: 10 Sensational Tips For Managing Your Time As A Teacher and How Do You Balance Life And Work To Fit In All The Things That You Want?
I hope I’ve given you some further ideas to consider when getting started as a teacher. But I also believe that being a new teacher shouldn’t mean you’re doing it on your own!
As a new teacher, you have A LOT on your plate….you just want to do what’s best for your students.
But, you’re struggling with:
- The day to day demands of being a teacher.
- Managing your time.
- All of the organizational parts of being a teacher.
- Behavior management.
- Differentiating the curriculum to meet the needs of your students.
Being a new teacher is not easy, but it is possible to manage your time better, implement engaging activities and get on top of your classroom management…..with the right kind of support!
I’m very pleased to announce a new program that is designed specifically to support new teachers. The New Teacher Support Program is a unique website portal where you will find links to specially picked sets of resources designed to help you navigate being a new teacher. The program is stocked with teaching resources, templates, videos and planning documents.
Click here to get started with support.