There are things you don’t learn in uni about being a teacher. Some of the things you need to learn are putting theory into practice in the real world of your classroom, but some of them are simply little things that help you survive—and thrive—as a teacher that nobody thinks to tell you.
Today, I’ve gathered tips from experienced teachers to help new teachers. And if you’re not so new to teaching anymore, read on anyway, because we can always pick up something new or use a reminder.
8 things you need to know as a new teacher
From time off to health to knowing the right people in your school, I hope these tips will help you out.
Track goals and organize papers
Create a professional binder for you! Create a tab for your goals and document how you are working towards them. One for your learning and you can insert handouts from PDs, and your celebrations and put any of the certificates you receive from PD’s in it. This way you have one easy location to find all of the materials whenever you meet with your administration.
Also, if you get a paper, put it where it belongs. Don’t lay it down… the Paper Monster is a real thing in teaching!
Enjoy your weekends
Try your hardest to get all your lesson plans written and copies made by Friday for the following week. You need the weekends for yourself, as much as possible. It was always my goal to have the following week’s plans written by Thursday, and have all copies finished and organized on my desk by the time I walked out the door on Friday. That way, I wasn’t stressing all weekend about not being ready for Monday morning.
Befriend the secretary & get a mentor
Make the secretary your friend! This woman knows everything about the school and you want her on your side. Find out her favorite treat or drink so you can thank her for all she does — explaining school policies, helping you un-jam the printer, tracking down parents, etc.
Also find a mentor teacher. Your school may have a formal program or there may be a teacher down the hall who will take you under their wing. Regardless, it’s nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of and answer questions.
—Heather from HoJo’s Teaching Adventures
Connect with custodians
Your custodians are your friends! Always respect them and keep them happy. This comes back to help you later when you need assistance. They are happy to help you and will often tell you about how disrespected they feel in other people’s classrooms. It can also get you “checked out” faster at the end of the year, because they trust you and won’t inspect you for every little detail! Plus, they are just like you—people trying to make the school a better place for everyone in it. That’s why they are there!
Be careful of germs
You will get sick. Each day wipe down the tables, back of the seats and if possible the items at your teaching table!!
Know your Plan B
Always have a back-up plan handy. Sometimes a lesson goes so well you finish too early. Sometimes it doesn’t go as planned and you need to move away from it for a little bit. Having a fun go-to review game or little song to teach the students about a concept you are teaching will help you make it through the class.
Remember your why
Remember why you went into teaching. It is so easy to get bogged down with meetings, parent concerns, copying, pacing guides, etc. Make solid connections with your students and find ways to show you care about them individually. It is much easier to get students to respond behaviorally and academically if they know you care about them.
—Heather from A Word From Third
Say no to overwhelm
I thought as a first-year teacher that I had to say yes to everything. I said yes to taking on extra clubs after school, I said yes to being on 6 different committees, I said yes to helping to organize the school fete and on and on it went.
So by the end of the first term, I was completely exhausted, overwhelmed and didn’t much fancy returning to teaching in term 2.
What I realized during the break was that I could say NO. I didn’t have to do everything!
From the second term, I started saying no (okay, not all the time, but some of the time). The first no I said was to the permanent accommodation I was offered as it was in terrible condition. And the fact that I said no didn’t impact on anything in my teaching career, but I did get a much better house!
—Melinda from Top Notch Teaching
I hope these tips have been useful to you. So often there are questions we don’t think to ask until we are in a certain situation. Or it doesn’t occur to us that there is another way. That’s why it’s so helpful to tap into a network of other teachers.
If you are looking for a network like that, check out the Top Notch Teaching Facebook Community. You’ll connect with other new (and experienced) teachers, and get support from me.
Looking for the plan B that Andrea mentioned? Check out the Top Notch Teaching Members Club. You’ll get tons of resources to use in the classroom.
Love the tip about organizing papers or actually having your weekend off? In the Facebook group, we talk about organization, time management, and self-care.
Need a mentor and a reminder about your why? You’ll get support from me and your fellow teachers. And it’s both practical and inspirational.
I encourage you to learn to say No as I did to avoid overwhelm as a teacher, and I encourage you to say Yes to the things that will help you thrive as a new teacher.
What else would you add to the list of things you need to know as a new teacher?