Today, Teacher Week continues with Teacher Talk Tuesday, where we're all sharing advice for new teachers out there. I'm not sure I'm really qualified to be giving out advice in this area, given I'm still the youngest and newest teacher at my school each year, but there are definitely some things I wish I'd known for my first year.
I love how Rachel organized hers, so I too am going to share 5 things I wish I had known during my first year of teaching...
1. SPELL CHECK EVERYTHING A MILLION TIMES: I know this seems like common sense, but twice throughout my first year of teaching I sent notes home with students that had typos. I was sure they were perfect, but they weren't. One mother even sent it back into the classroom with my typo corrected, I wanted to die! They were both pretty small typos that I'm sure 75% of the parents missed, but I was still mortified. Teachers can't send notes home with typos in them, it just makes you look bad. I'm sure I might have let a few slip between now and then, but there is nothing that made me cringe more during that first year.
2. DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP: Who was I kidding? I had no clue what I was doing when I got my first job 72 hours before school started, but I sure faked it well. The problem was that I wanted to come across like I knew what I was doing so much that I didn't ask for help. I had a great staff of teachers at my disposal that would have been more than willing to help me, but I wanted to act that I had it all together, so I didn't. About half way through the year, I got over this and started utilizing my 3rd grade team more, but my life could have been so much easier if I had just asked for and accepted everyone's help early on.
3. BE STRICT: I know this sounds harsh, but as a blonde, 22 year old 3rd grade teacher, the parents and kids walked right into my room thinking I was just going to be "just the sweetest thing." I loved the fact that they liked me so much that I let them (mainly the parents) walk right over me. As the year went on, I realized what I'd let happen and instantly tried to put up a stronger front, but it was too late. The parents and the kids didn't quite like the stronger and stricter young teacher nearly as much, and I had myself to blame. You can be nice, but I was too nice. Teachers need to be strict at times to have a successful classroom. I've learned since that it's much easier to start super strict, and loosen up, than the other way around.
4. STAY AS ORGANIZED AS POSSIBLE: I'm sure everyone participating in Teacher Week will offer this exact same advice today, but it's because it's true! Being a teacher comes with LOTS of paperwork, record keeping, etc. and if it's not organized you'll quickly be buried behind your desk! Having a system in place for how you want to keep things organized before school starts makes a huge difference. Also, as a young teacher if you're lucky enough to be able to teach the same grade 2 years in a row, it will make your life so much easier the second time around.
5. RELAX, IT GETS EASIER: Teaching is a draining and exhausting job, especially those first few months, but it does get easier. I came home really late, and crying nearly every day my first month of teaching. My to-do list was never ending, it took me hours and hours to plan what I was going to teach, and I started to feel extremely defeated. I didn't think I could do it, and was constantly stressed to the max. Then, all of a sudden though I found my groove, and it suddenly wasn't impossible anymore. I knew my abilities, I knew my students better, and I knew I could teach. Although I don't think there's anything that can take away that first month or two of extreme uncertainty in what you're doing, I promise it get better. Once it gets better, it becomes so much fun!
Also remember, Diet Coke is your friend, and a fully stocked supply of chocolate in your room will help you become fast friends with the rest of the staff!