I'm getting ready to start my third year of teaching so I'm still pretty new to this, but wanted to offer things I've learned.
The first one is to not be their friend. I'm actually hoping to be a much better job at this starting in August.
The second one is to ask. Find a teacher, your mentor or someone else, that you can go to for advice and never hesitate to ask anything. I love my mentor teacher and am SOOOO thankful to have had her.
The third one to me is the most important in my opinion. Prayer. Those kids can fight a teacher all they want, but they can't fight prayer. I plan to take time every morning starting in August and praying over my room. We just don't know what some of the kids go through at home. They need all the love and support they can get from you. I try to remind myself, I might be the only smile they get so I better be ready. Prayer helps me with that, because we all know there are days when a smile seems impossible.
I look forward to reading the advice all of you seasoned teachers have to pass on.
1. Start organizing your thoughts: Curriculum-find out what you are going to be teaching, and go pick up your teacher's manuals if you can. Find out about what your schedule will be like, so you can plan your day.
2. Start organizing your classroom: There are a wealth of good websites that can give you very specific info. about how to set up your classroom. Ask on one of the boards here, if you need info. about the best sites.
3. Start organizing the extra things: Behavior plan, center ideas, what you will be doing the first day/weeks, supplies needed, etc.
1. Get to know the people in your grade-level team. Establish a good relationship with at least 1 of them so that you have someone to go to if you need help or advice. This person can also help you get acquainted with your curriculum, school policies, etc.
2. Establish a behavior management system. Make sure you check to see if there is a school-wide or grade-level-wide system. Write out your rules and consequences, and run them by your principal to make sure he/she is on board with it. Train your class in the rules. Role-play if necessary. Do this for at least the first week. And then stick by the rules and consequences you have set in place. Be consistent.
3. Figure out your class procedures, etc. What will your homework be? How will you collect it? What will the consequence be for not doing it? How will students hand papers into you? If they need supplies such as paper, pencils, etc., how will they get them? What will your bathroom procedures be? Things like that seem small and are easily forgettable in the midst of all you have to prepare for as a first year teacher, but they are vital to the smooth running of a classroom.
Focus more on your curriculum than a theme in the classroom. I know it's tempting to decorate and make your room cute, but parents will care more about what the kids are learning and most likely the P will care that the kids are meeting the standards.
Decorate lightly and don't spend too much money on cutesy things like BB decorations and things like that. Often they move you around and you change rooms and levels a lot in the first few years. If you end up spending your own $ purchase games, centers and useful things for the kids to DO! This will be more beneficial for the kids than a cute room decor.
I decorate easily by choosing a couple of colors for the room (mine is light green and light blue) this creates uniformity, but I don't have to worry about keeping everything related to bees or frogs or sports or something. It's been much easier for me.
1. Take the time to build community and trust in the classroom. Remember that kids (and adults!) learn better if they feel safe and cared for...
2. Remember that what you see with kids and their behavior is only 1/2 the story...you might see a child not paying attention--they may be hungry or lonely or hurt. Try to get to the core of problems without dismissing the child as lazy or ADD, etc.
3. Remember that all kids learn differently and at different paces and be prepared to find some easy ways to engage the strong students and support the struggling ones.
I just have one piece of advice: Be ready for the 2nd day of school! It's the day all of the forms come back and if you're not on top of it you will literally be snowed under! What works best for me is to not take any forms (and they all try to shove them into my hands!) until everyone is there and morning announcements have concluded. Then, everyone passes up the registration form. I paperclip the stack, put it on my desk, and then ask for the lunch forms, etc. I'm able to mark off the ones who don't have their forms as I go--a big timesaver for me!
Don't forget to take time for yourselves. A burned out teacher is not usually the best teacher for students. Take time outside of school to do what you are interested in.
Find a system of organizing things that works for you, is simple, and fast, and get all of your forms and essential paperwork under control.
Find a buddy teacher, someone that has some experience, does a good job, and will help you when you need it. Go to them when you have questions and concerns and let them help you. You aren't supposed to know everything! Sometimes you just need to ask questions and let someone else help you figure things out.
Teach procedures. Model procedures. Teach procedures. You may feel like you are wasting valuable instructional time, but it will save so much time in the long run. It takes more than just one time to teach them.
Find a mentor. If your school doesn't provide one, befriend someone on your grade level. It's nice to have someone who knows how things are done at your building. When you are new, you really don't know what you don't know, so how can you ask. A mentor will keep you up to speed on all those "little" things that can pile up in a hurry.
Make time for you. It's easy to be overwhelmed in this profession. If you are out of balance, you can't do the best job for your students.
*Most importantly, remember to find one thing each and every day that makes you laugh. (Trust me, in a class full of kids, there is always something. Unfortunately, we sometimes get so caught up in our work that we forget to have fun.) Stay joyful!
The first day I show the children my "in" box and show them what they are taking home to bring back and where to put it. I show them both hands up in the air which means I won't take it put it in the box. The next day when they try tohand me something I put both hands up and say put it in the box. doesn't take long. Mine sits beside our classroom mascot (bear) so we call it Mr. Bears Box.
1. Take time to build a postive atmosphere in the room. Do community building activities (tribes is a good one) and share experiences together. I do this each year adnd I get nice commetns from the Principal that my room is a nice place to be and we have a family feel. You can fit a lot of this stuff in in the morning if you start with a morning meeting.
2. Be consistent, firm and fair! Kids crave this no matter how much they say they wish we didn;t have rules!
3. Read Aloud every day from something...kids love it and they remember it! Use articles, nonfiction, emails, fiction and picture book...do not skimp on read aloud time...even the older kids love it!
1. Focus on classroom management. All the great lessons and ideas you have will not be effective if you don't have a handle on the classroom. Be firm, consistent and fair. This doesn't mean you are mean! It's far easier to loosen up later than to try to tighten up your ship later.
2. Learn to prioritize and that may mean you need to talk to a mentor teacher or someone you work well with in your building to learn what you should focus on and when (like curriculum notebooks, etc.). Stay on top of paperwork but DON'T let it overwhelm you! Ask for help if you need it!
3. Send out good, positive energy and show confidence (even if you're shaking like jello on the inside!). Students will pick up on your calm, positive demeanor and it will reflect across the classroom. If you are always flitting around, flying by the seat of your pants, and in a panic, your room will be the same way. Give off the energy of the type of room you want. Students will rise (or fall!) to your level of expectations!
AND, DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF!! MAKE TIME FOR YOU!
1. Find a colleague that you trust. This is your go to person. The person who you ask questions, vent, learn about the school culture. No matter how embarrassed you are, ASK! I had a mentor who was evaluating me. She was helpful but I needed a colleague who I could go to without being judged.
2. Beware and avoid the gossip. There is plenty of it in schools. Teachers, parents, staff...there are some people who just keep it going. Just know that most of the time it is the "Gospel according to Mrs.____" and she does not have the full story. You can believe that sooner or later, you will become the topic of someone's gossip. Let it go.
3. It will be here tomorrow. Establish a time that you will leave every day. New teachers (and some not so new!) spend a lot of time after school. There are some things that can wait until tomorrow. Make time to do what you enjoy (the gym, cooking, shopping, going to the spa, read a book). Try to meet your deadlines but know that it is okay, if you don't get every paper graded that day.
I agree with cardinallady, pray for yourself and your students every day. I pray on the drive to school and each night.
Next, you must show your students respect and demand respect from them. You must show them that you sincerely care about them and that you will be fair. Anytime there are problems between students, I give this speech: “I will give each of you a chance to speak as long as you speak in a calm, quiet voice. If you are loud or disrespectful, I will not listen to you. You may not interrupt each other.” When they are finished telling their side, many times I tell the students they may work out a solution, but if they cannot, then I will decide on one. The students almost always come to a resolution.
1. Put those parents to work! Get them in the classroom. Make them want to be on your side from the start. This last year I had a parent paint a good sized section of wall because the maintenance never got to it. Ask them to take over the parties and then you can sit back and actually enjoy them. I will be having one of them update my website this coming year.
2. Don't be afraid to ask parents for help with supplies. I use a lot of "stuff" in my room. Beans, buttons, cups, spaghetti, etc. Let them donate--they will (and I am in a district that has something like 95% free or reduced lunch).
3. Keep the lines of communication open wide. Do not hesitate to call for discipline issues, but also the good stuff. They will love you and sing your praises.
1. Organize your thoughts and ideas. I keep mine in a spiral notebook. It makes planning a lot easier come August. Also keep a system of organization (mine is a to-do list) so that you don't forget to do something important.
2. Make friends, or at least be friendly with the people you will be working with. They will be the people to pull you out of your funk on bad days, and there to help you with your problem kids.
3. Always remember: parents send their best children to school each day.
1. Pray every day for wisdom and guidance.
2. Focus on teaching children what to do, especially at the beginning of the year. Its amazing what kids come to school NOT knowing these days. They don't know how to line up, sit in a chair, look at the teacher, listen to a story, etc, sometimes. We have to teach some kids everything.
3. I give my kids lots of specific praise and correction. When they are doing something wrong, i tell them specifically what it is, then what they should be doing-- "You're running, please walk." "You're talking; be quiet." Or "I like how you came in the room and sat down right away." "You are doing a nice job remembering to raise your hand when you want to talk." Specifics seem to help children learn better what to do and not to do, since they don't always know.
1. Be organized...when you are not your kids will know it and take advantage of it.
2. Get to know your students. I always give them and the parents a survey with some questions. It is important to know what they like and what is going on in their lives. It can help...you have the one kid who doesn't want to do anything....you know that he loves race cars....you get a book about them...and ask him if he has seen this book....He now thinks that you care....It doesn't mean that you are being too easy....it does mean that you care and the behavior might just stop.
3. Make sure they know what is expected of them....and what they should expect from you. Cooperation is key....try some Kagan activities. I have many if interested. Build a classroom community and then a team community.