10 Tips for New Teachers

I've been teaching for 10 years now and I have seen a lot of new teachers come to our school over the years. Today I want to share a few tips and pointers I've learned over the years in hopes that you will have a happy and successful first year in your new classroom!

1. Make friends with your teammates.

From the second you get hired (or just as soon as you can) make friends with your grade level teammates. Don't be afraid to ask them questions and get on the same page as far as starting off the year goes. You should not have to start off the year all on your own. Try to make copies together, share ideas, and ask questions.

I realize you might have different personalities and maybe not a lot in common, but the better friends you can be, the easier your year will be!

(Another great tip is to make friends with your school secretaries and custodians as well! Get on their good side as soon as possible and always go out of your way to be friendly to them.)

2. Get a copy of a curriculum map asap. (Or make one if you have to.)

Someone should have a copy of a curriculum map you can use. Hopefully your team or district already has one for you. But if not, try to make your own. At least fill in the "big rocks" or big concepts of the year. Your math program and reading program (if you have them) probably has an outline you can use to map out your year. Remember that you do not need to have the entire year mapped out right now, fill in the first month or two if you can and worry about the rest after you make it through the first month of school!)

If you don't have a curriculum map, feel free to grab this free copy of my Curriculum Map Template to help you get started. 

3. Decide your classroom management plan.

Every teacher should go into the year with a management plan. What are your classroom rules? How will you encourage good behavior? What happens when student's break a rule? I have created an easy checklist to help you make a management plan.

This Editable PowerPoint will walk you through all the important things you need to have planned out and it will also serve as a visual when you teach your students your behavior plan. This is a life saver and could save you a lot of time and heartache later on! (You could also print these out to use as reminder posters as well!)

4. Build a classroom library.

Know that your library won't start out very elaborate, but start small to build your library of books. If you're teaching younger grades you'll want to get some easy picture books that students can read on their own. If you're doing upper grades you'll want a variety of chapter books that will interest all learners in your classroom. Check out yardsales to find the best deals on old books. Ask around and see if anyone you know is trying rid of any books to see if they will donate them to your classroom.

5. Make your room look nice and inviting.

Some teachers have a theme and some don't, and that's okay! At least a week before school starts, try to have colorful paper up on all your bulletin boards with coordinating borders. Even if your bulletin boards start out with nothing on them (you can fill them with student work as you go!), make sure you start the year with them covered and looking nice! 

I feel like this is important because you're sending a message to the other teachers in the school and to the parents of your students (when they come to open house), that you are ready for the year!

Here's an easy and cute bulletin board idea for you that teaches students how to "Be Awesome" in a positive way!

Other nice things to include would be: an alphabet or cursive chart, content related posters, a welcome sign, a birthday chart, etc. Try not to get overwhelmed and just do what you can to make your room look nice, clean, and inviting.)

Note: I always like to provide some basic school supplies on each student's desk before open house. Maybe a notebook, folder, box of crayons, and a pencil. Set them on top of the student's desk and make it look like you're nice and ready for the year to start!

6. Plan your first few days of school.

On the first day of school, get started with your routine right when the students walk in. Maybe have a self-start activity ready on their desk that they can begin quietly as they come in. (Have some instructions on the board so students know what to do.)

Plan some get to know you activities. I like to do some name games to help me try to memorize their names faster. I love the writing activities in this About Me pack because it serves as a writing assignment, a get-to-know-you activity, and you can hang them up on the bulletin board when you're done! I have two versions: younger grades (K-2) and upper grades (3-6).


7. Start doing real work on the 1st day of school

Do a math activity or assessment on the first day of school! Start the year out letting students know that you mean business (in a polite and happy way, of course). Do some math on the first day as a way to jumpstart them for the year. I like to give a little math pre-test or assessment so you can get a basic idea of where your students are at currently and maybe some key concepts you can focus on right away. Or you can do a fun math activity that helps show them how math can be fun! 

Here's also a set of student inventories that will help you get to know your students and how they feel about school. It includes an interest inventory, reading survey, handwriting sample, and a "3 Things I Want My Teacher To Know" page.

8. Encourage parents to volunteer in the classroom.

If you want to have a successful year, and avoid burnout as much as possible, enlist some parent volunteers! In my room, I always had an incredible room mom that would head up all of my class parties and I always got a list of people who would want to come in and be guest speakers in our class. (Once I had a mom with an art background come in and teach an art lesson every month! I've also gotten electrical engineers, grandparents from other countries, and military parents to come in and speak to our class.) A lot of moms (dads too!) will want to come in and volunteer to help read with kids, cut out lamination, make copies, etc. Use their help as much as possible - it will make your life easier and cut down on the time you stay after school gets out.

This Volunteer sign up pack can help you get started and organized!

9. Don't be afraid to practice! 

Once those cute kids show up on the first day and you've taught them the procedures for your classroom, spend a lot of time practicing them! 

My best example of this is to practice walking in the hall. On the first day within the first hour or two, explain how you want your students to walk in the hall. What does it look like? (Arms folded or to side, straight line, facing forward, no gaps in line, etc). What does it sound like? (No talking, quiet feet, etc). Then take them in the hall to practice. If even one kid is not doing it the way you explained, remind the whole class what it should look like. Wait until they are all standing the way you would like. Practice walking forward. Practice turning corners. Practice changing to the other side of the hall. Then, the next time you are walking in the halls, start the whole process over if necessary. I am proud of the fact that my students always look great when we walk down the hall and I love when they receive compliments from other teachers! I think the way your students walk in the hall can tell someone a lot about how the inside of your classroom works. If it's chaos in the hall, does your classroom look chaotic too?

Use this example for everything! Oh, your students forgot how to enter the classroom quiet? That's okay, let's practice! Your students aren't raising their hands to speak like you taught them? That's okay, let's practice! 

10. Be happy!

You might be scared to death (I know I was on my first day of school), but don't let that stop you from being happy. I hate to break this to you, but is going to be hard! Doing it with a smile and a positive attitude will make all the difference in how your year will go. 

Note: Please don't confuse being happy/nice with being a strict teacher who makes their students follow the rules and procedures of the classroom. You can be nice, happy, and strict all at the same time. I am a fun and happy teacher most of the time, but I can pull out my serious face when needed to let students know my expectations for behavior.

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I feel like I could write a book about getting started with your first year of teaching, but I think this is a good, comprehensive list to help you get started! My best advice is to do the best you can, love your students, and don't stress about the little things! It will all work out!! 

Wishing you the BEST of luck this year!! 

Are you an experienced teacher? 
What would you add to my list?
Leave a comment with your 
best advice for new teachers!

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