Being a 1st year new teacher can be a scary time. But student teachers have had experience, student teaching, right? Wrong. New teachers have been in an controlled environment where they were supported by a veteran teacher. A veteran teacher, who was deemed worthy to house a student teacher which is no small feat. Everyone knows that principals only pick their best teachers to sponsor student teachers. So, student teaching can be an almost utopia for new teachers. According to “Beginning teacher Attrition and Mobility”, with 10% of public school teachers leaving the profession after 1 year and an
additional 12% leaving after 2 years of teaching (Kaiser, 2011), something must be done! Many teachers leave because of administrative issues or financial issues but there are some issues that we can control. As a former student teacher and now a 15 year veteran, I decided to share some insight with my top 5 tips for new teachers.
- Stay Positive– This is so important for new teachers and really everyone. To do this, you must find surround yourself with positive people. Run from the naysayers! I mean it, Run! You will know them immediately because they will come up to you and test the waters. Make sure you always have somewhere to go when they approach you. Your reputation is formed early by the company you keep. Surround yourself with teachers who are positive. Many schools will assign a mentor teacher for you. This is a great person to form a relationship with until you get to know others. Take your time before making lasting relationships with people until you really know them.
- Don’t bring work home! This is so hard for new teachers and many veteran teachers struggle with this but it is so important. You are not being paid to grade papers at home. Schedule time in your week to grade after-school before you leave and stick to it. If your students take a quiz, let them swap papers. This is a great way to reinforce and give immediate feedback. Also, give online quizzes. Many programs like Edmodo, Quizlet, and Kahoot allow you to make quizzes online for free. Break down assignments. For example, Language Arts teachers, instead of a 5 paragraph essay, have them write the introduction and focus on a specific skill. Finally, if you don’t have time to grade it, don’t assign it! Students deserve timely feedback. Assigning an essay in September and returning it graded in December doesn’t benefit anyone. It is unfair to the student and to you.
- Say no to clubs! Your first year unless you are contractually bound to sponsor a club or sport, don’t do it. You need time to hone your teaching skills and this will take away from your classroom. Although this can be a great way to socialize and show leadership skills, you can do it in other ways or wait until next year. Coaching positions can offer job security but other duties that are unpaid are just more stress. If you must sponsor a club, insist that you be paid or receive some type of compensation.
- Be active in meetings/around the school– Share you ideas and share your successes. Always be willing to answer questions and provide insight when asked at a meeting. Volunteer to share or present on your areas of expertise especially any apps or technology you are using to enhance your instruction. But, if a meeting ends at 3:00, shut up at 2:50! Also, attend sporting events, parades, dances, etc. Just because you are not the sponsor doesn’t mean you can’t support the school.
- Find an outlet outside of school- You need an outlet to release your frustrations or to simply relax. Bookclub, church, exercise, or blogging are all great ways to relax. You can be yourself because you are a human! Doing this will help you remember who you are as a person and it will revitalize you.
These are just a few tips but not all. Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day and you will make mistakes. Just be willing to learn from those mistakes and keep moving forward. If you have more tips,comments or questions, please share in the comment section.
Cicely Lewis is currently a media specialist. She has been in education for 15 years and is currently working on a young adult literature novel. Follow her on twitter @cicelythegreat or Instagram @mhsmediacenter