5 Things I Wish I’d Known as a First Year Teacher

Happy Friday, y’all!

If you’re new around here, you may not know this, but I teach 9th and 10th grade English. I’m currently in my 6th year of teaching, and have learned a great deal “over the years.” I’ve recently been thinking about concepts I wish I knew during my first year and thought it would be fun/helpful to share them with you, too.

During a typical year, I spend the first 1-2 weeks going over procedures, discussing “housekeeping” issues, creating a class culture, and building relationships. I’ve discovered that if you build positive relationships with your students, they’ll be more willing to participate in your lessons. Getting to know your students also helps reduce the amount of discipline you’ll have in your room.

Speaking of discipline, when it occurs, discuss the issue with the student individually and discretely. This might involve speaking to them after class or in the hallway, or it might mean going to where they’re sitting and quietly discussing the issue.

When students are called out in front of everyone, they tend to react poorly, as we all would. By taking care of issues in a considerate way, they’ll be more likely to respond in an agreeable fashion.

Any educator will tell you that the first year of teaching is about survival. During my first semester of teaching, I just tried to stay a day or two ahead of where my students were. However, over time, you’ll get into a groove.

Additionally, our culture is ever-changing, and as a result so are our students. The examples and activities that you used five years ago may no longer be applicable to your current students. Moreover, new resources get created each year, so do some looking and use what someone else put out there. Teachers Pay Teachers is my favorite site to find interesting, engaging lessons.

* If you teach elementary school, my college roommate, Kelli, has an awesome TPT site.

Gone are the days of tangible planbooks (Well, they’re not completely gone.). There’s a plethora of digital ones that make it easy to keep track of your lesson plans from year to year. This is the website I use.

One of the best practices I incorporate is to leave notes in my planbook about parts of the lessons that worked well and parts that were a total flop. By doing this, the next time you teach that lesson, you can make adjustments or create something new.

Regardless of students’ ages, they love a good competition. Even if the concept of the lesson is potentially boring, when you make a game out of it, the kids get more involved, and you “trick” them into learning.

Kahoot is my favorite way to add competitiveness into my classroom. Although it takes a while to type in questions and answers, you’ll have it for the next time around. I also allow my students to use their cell phones as “clickers,” which instantly draws them in.

Honestly, I could go on about more things I wish I knew during my first year of teaching. Regardless of what stage of educator you are, I encourage you to keep the kids first, show yourself grace, and to remember that even educators can learn new things.

I thought it would be fun to end today’s post by hearing from some other educators about things they wish they’d known. I set up a question box on Instastories, and here are the answers I received:

  1. Classroom management is KEY! Be consistent.
  2. You will make mistakes. Learn and grow. Experience is the best teacher and letting students see you mess up makes you more relatable. Also, allow students to make mistakes and correct them with positive language, so they won’t give up.
  3. Set a budget for personal money you can spend each month, or you’ll go overboard!
  4. You may feel like you’re drowning, but it gets better, and everyone’s first year feels impossible.
  5. People might say, “Stay out of the teachers’ lounge,” but don’t listen to them. You NEED others!
  6. Make sure you set boundaries between work time and personal time.
  7. Not every student will be the type of student you were, nor will they have the same upbringing.
  8. It’s okay to say no. You have to be careful to not get spread too thin.
  9. Organization is very important.

Thank you to all of my fellow teachers who contributed to today’s post!

Sarah