Advice for a first year teacher

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Luv2Teaching, May 5, 2011.

  1. Luv2Teaching

    Luv2Teaching Rookie

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    May 5, 2011

    What advice that do you wish veteran teachers would have given you before or during your first year of teaching? I am a sub hoping to get a teaching job this coming fall:):)
     
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  3. mb_teacher

    mb_teacher Companion

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    May 6, 2011

    There are a lot of good bits of advice already posted here:
    New Teacher Tips
     
  4. queenie

    queenie Groupie

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    May 7, 2011

    1) Ask questions- LOTS of questions. Don't let people make you feel like you should have been born knowing everything.

    2) Set a time limit for being at work and stick to it. While it's tempting to come in early and leave late every day, you job can become a monster that swallows up your life before you know it.

    3) Work smarter, not harder. Assign jobs to the kids rather than doing everything yourself. Ask for help from a colleague when you get overwhelmed. Take time to grade papers together and record grades IMMEDIATELY when possible. Give yourself permission to check mark less important practice pages or even help them find file 13 when necessary and possible.

    4) Don't take misbehaviors personally. Try your best to act professionally and in a matter of fact manner when a child misbehaves. Dole out the punishment and move on with a clean slate. Don't assume you're a bad teacher, the child is a bad kid, or he doesn't like you. They are human. They make choices. Some of them are bad and they must face the consequences. That's all.

    5) Don't ask "Did you do such and such?" Ask, "WHY did you do such and such." What a time saver!!

    6) Refuse to repeat directions. Ask for their attention. State the directions clearly. Check for understanding. Say, "Is there anyone who doesn't know what to do?" If someone doesn't know what to do, say, "Well, it looks like you're the only one who didn't hear what to do. Perhaps one of your friends can help you figure it out."

    7) Practice, practice, practice procedures!! Show them what is correct, what is incorrect, and what is not quite correct.

    8) If a student is doing something annoying or not quite correct, stop the behavior immediately. Although some behaviors are bearable for a short amount of time, you don't want to have to deal with them every time you turn around. For example, when we play a Spelling game some of the kids sing their answers slowly, drawing them out. Not a big deal, but annoying when 10 kids are doing it and the game is dragging on. So the next time we played the game I gave examples of what I did not want them to do. I said, "If you do this, you will be out." It stopped.

    9) Keep it simple when dealing with parents. Don't go into any lengthy explanations. Just stick to the facts and don't email or text (or say for that matter) anything you wouldn't want repeated in front of your principal.

    10) Buy a ton of folders and put labels on them. Every time you have a paper you don't know what to do with, give it a category and put it in a labeled folder.
     
  5. Mrs.DLC

    Mrs.DLC Comrade

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    May 8, 2011

    queenie-excellent advice-even for veteran teachers!!:)
     
  6. TeacherGrl7

    TeacherGrl7 Devotee

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    May 9, 2011

    I repeat all the time "Work Smarter, Not Harder!" It has made my job soooo much easier over the years.

    The one thing I would add is to think about how much work you are doing for a lesson/project versus how much the kids are doing. If you have a project that takes you 4 hours to get ready and the kids spend 2 minutes putting it together, chances are they shouldn't be doing it. How many times my first year did I spend hoooours cutting things out for the kids to paste together- what was I thinking?? Sure they were cute, but did they learn anything from those?? I could have saved so much time if I had done projects where the KIDS had to do the work. I graduated Pre-K already!
     
  7. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    May 9, 2011

    I agree with a lot of what was said in that number out post. But I disagree with #5. I prefer to give students a chance to be honest with me. If they lie, they simply dig themsevles a deeper hole. Then i talk to them about trust.
     
  8. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    May 9, 2011

    Just ending my first year :) Here are some I can think of that haven't been mentioned...

    1. Always be professional. It's so simple but so important. Assuming you're young (not sure since some people go back to school, etc.) you're going to have to work twice as hard as older teachers to be taken seriously and prove your worth and that you know what you're doing. I get compliments on this all the time and it's really something anyone can do!
    2. Eat in the teacher's lounge. We were discussing this on a thread in the new teachers section- it seems that so many professors/mentors/advisors are telling new teachers that it's all negative and to stay away. Please don't do that! It's amazing what even taking 20 minutes to have an adult conversation can do for your day. I promise you won't be getting that much work done if you eat alone in your room anyway. In my experience, teachers that are social and get along on a personal level are happier at work and collaborate better together on academic things because of the social relationships they have. Being such good friends with many of my coworkers has made my year that much easier. Put yourself out there and make an effort to make social connections with people. Don't be the new teacher that stays until school until 9 pm on a Friday instead of going to happy hour :)
    3. Be consistent. If you say a consequence will happen for a behavior, then it needs to happen. Don't threaten things that you don't plan on following through for.
    4. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, think about what you can let go. If it's not something for you or your students that is something that you can let go. For example, don't spend hours writing 5 page lesson plans so that your supervisor will be impressed.
    5. Be their teacher, not their friend. It's really important to draw that line in classroom management. That doesn't mean that you can't be kind, understanding, nurturing, etc.- but understand the type of relationship you need to have with your students.
     
  9. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    May 9, 2011

    Why does a first year teacher have to work twice as hard. When you are a first year teacher it is your only chance to use the excuse of "being a first year teacher."
     
  10. husker_blitz

    husker_blitz Companion

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    May 9, 2011

    Pray...and pray often...:angel:


    I'll echo a lot that has already been said, but one that I would stress is being organized and staying organized. I routinely find myself needing to reorganize after several weeks because I don't stay on top of it and it can be frustrating looking for something you had out already. Then suddenly you become disorganized at everything...don't let that happen.
     
  11. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    May 9, 2011

    Why use an excuse when you could choose to do your job well instead? Especially in this economy when many probationary teachers end up losing their jobs due to budget. If there is more than one person that could be cut you can make sure it's not you. To me personally it's also important that I had the respect of my coworkers and admin right away. :2cents:

    On that note something I forgot to add: Find a person in the building that you can trust to ask all your silly first year questions to- someone who isn't going to judge you because you don't know such and such or run around telling people you don't know what you're doing. My program was excellent in preparing us for actual teaching, but I did a dual cert program that was mostly focused on gen. ed. In my student teaching placement they did all the IEP writing/meetings in May after I had already graduated so I had a lot to learn about all that still this year. I'm really good friends with the speech pathologist (she's a 2nd year-so she gets it!) and she has helped me SO much with IEP writing and running meetings. She's the person I go to about things I should have learned in college but didn't. Everyone else compliments me on how much I came in knowing. I don't know what I would do without her!
     
  12. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    May 10, 2011

    I'm not sure that you have to work twice as hard, but I don't buy that excuse.

    When you're hired, it's as a professional, not a semi-professional.

    At interview time, it's all about what the candidate can do and has done and is capable of doing. So that candidate is hired on the basis of those words.

    No excuses. You're hired as a professional-- don't play the "First year teacher" card. Do the job you claimed you were going to do.

    Yes, there's a learning curve. Know that going in.
     
  13. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    May 10, 2011

    I understand you are hired to be a professional, but what I am saying is you do not have to go the extra mile just because you are a first year teacher.
    There is a learning curve, which to me means you are going to make a lot of mistakes in your first year. There is nothing wrong with that, you will learn from your mistakes. I just don't see it as you need to work harder. You just need to work.
    Another idea, careful with setting the bar too high in the beginning, because the bar will never be high enough. You will always be expected to do more and improve more, people in education are never satisfied with what you are doing.
     
  14. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    May 10, 2011

    Because for every person who is a first year teacher that chooses to use the excuse, and not work twice as hard, there is a teacher not willing to use the excuse and willing to work at least twice as hard... and guess which one gets to stay at the school the next year!
     
  15. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    May 10, 2011

    While I would never feel like a teacher should beat themselves up over mistakes, I also feel like it's important that mistakes should be avoided wherever possible. It wouldn't be fair to a child to not get a quality education because his or her teacher was a first year teacher.
     
  16. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    May 10, 2011

    I think a first year teacher has to work harder than I do simply because I know much better what I'm doing than when I first started.

    I know the material, cold. I know what they learned last year and what they'll have to know for next year. I know the textbook-- its strengths and weaknesses, and where to find the problems and topics I want. I know the curriculum; what's in which trimester. I know which explanations are least likely to confuse the fewest number of students, and which ones to turn to for those who are confused.

    A couple of years ago I was switched from my 7th grade math classes to Precalc for 6 weeks to cover a maternity leave. (THey couldn't find a qualified Precalc teacher, so I bumped up and they found someone to teach 7th grade.) I walked in the day Denise had her son, found out what page they were on, and started teaching. That would be a pretty daunting task for someone who hadn't taught Precalc a bunch of times before.

    In terms of classroom management, I know what works for me. And, in addition, I have a reputation. So before a kid even enters my class he has a good idea that he won't be getting away with much; classroom management is less of an issue as a result.

    If there's any sort of an issue, I know who to bring it to. I know who on the faculty is utterly dependable, and who is a bit less so.

    I know the school policies and I know the reasoning behind them. I know the upcoming assemblies and events. I know which days the kids are likely to be crazy, and which days we'll need some "all hands on deck" type of supervision in the hallways.

    So a first year teacher has to work harder in every single one of those areas. Not as punishment for being new, but because learning how to be a good teacher is important for anyone planning to make a career of teaching. It's simply too important for the kids to have strong teachers; one teacher who is skating by doing the minimum can do incredible harm.

    Where other people put the bar has never been an issue for me. As a result, it's never been an issue for any administrator for whom I've worked.
     
  17. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    May 10, 2011

  18. Math

    Math Cohort

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    May 10, 2011

    Yes, I even believe a first year teacher has to work hard. Like Ms. Alice said your not a semi-professional. Plus you owe students more than that you owe the school board more than that. You need to work hard and show that you can handle the position. Like Ms. Alice also said, "Do the job you claimed you were going to do." You shouldn't be trying to just start using excuses for why your not doing such and such. I'm sorry but when I read that it was a shock.. when I become a teacher I know for a fact my first year I'm going to ask questions if I don't understand something and I'm definitely gonna work as hard as I can.
     
  19. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    May 10, 2011

    Well I will say, as a male working in an elementary school, I have never feared for my job even during the budget cuts.

    At the same time, I don't really see it as much as an excuse, more as the reality of the beast. There is a serious learning curve. To me, the first year you are basically learning on the job. I knew I would make a lot of mistakes, I knew there would be plenty of things I did wrong. I look back, I know that my first year of teaching, those kids did somewhat get the shaft. I tried, but I know that was and will always be my worst year of teaching. I learned the material as I went and said that I would change things the following year.
    That does not mean that they didn't learn, they did, it was just nowhere near as good/effective as any other years.
     
  20. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    May 10, 2011

    I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate the "Ms" before the "Alice." It's not necessary-- we're all peers here, regardless of our age or experience.

    But I really appreciate the fact that you included it.
     
  21. PinkCupcake

    PinkCupcake Cohort

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    May 10, 2011

    Don't compare yourself to other teachers. I try to remind myself daily that nothing will be perfect my first year, and I don't have to be like any other teacher. Everyone had a first year too.
     
  22. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    May 10, 2011

    How lovely for you... as a male elementary teacher here, I have worried for my job EVERY year since I've started four years ago. You're very fortunate to live somewhere where work ethic doesn't matter.

     
  23. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    May 10, 2011

    I never said that work ethic does not matter. I believe it does. I also do think being a male teacher in an elementary school can be quite beneficial. I rarely have too many discipline problems in my classroom, and that has been pointed out to me on many occasions. There is an overwhelming view that being a man with size, this helps when it comes to behaviors. It is an advantage that I enjoy having. I wont apologize for it and I (nor will other teachers I work with) deny that it helps.
    I have other male teacher friends in the same school, other schools, and other districts who experience much of the same thing. They are viewed as someone that disciplinary problem students can be sent to. That is a commodity that schools are not going to be quick to get rid of.
     
  24. Breakaway4

    Breakaway4 Rookie

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    May 11, 2011

    I wonder if callmebob's comments are losing something in the translation from thought to text. At first I took his remarks as an excuse for first year teacher to not do their best but I think it is something else perhaps (let me know if I am wrong bob).

    A first year teacher will not be at their best. The difference in terms of work ethic then becomes are they working/trying their best. Are they seeing mistakes and not bothering to improve on them because "heck, I'm just a first year teacher." or are they seeing mistakes and saying "Okay, I don't have to beat myself up because I am new at this, but I am going to do whatever I need to do to make this better and not repeat the mistake."
     
  25. gutterballjen

    gutterballjen Comrade

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    May 11, 2011

    I started using this yesterday and it has made such a difference. It really catches them off guard. If a student didn't really do something, they told me they didn't do it. Love it!
     
  26. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    Thank You. There is a learning curve and nobody learns it all in one year. You shouldn't expect to be perfect from the beginning. You do what you can and leave it at that. I have known first year teachers who work their butts off and still make tons of mistakes and do a lot wrong in their teaching. Same thing that first year teachers do who don't work as hard as them. You have to find a way to limit yourself at some point.
     
  27. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    May 16, 2011

    Well, in my district, layoffs aren't based on gender--they're based solely on seniority.

    I've never heard of men having to be less fearful about losing their job than women are. :confused:
     
  28. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    Obviously layoffs are never gender based. Where I am they are also not solely on seniority either. I just think that when it comes down to making a decision, it is helpful.
    I have just always felt that being a man it made it easier to get and keep a job as an elementary school teacher. There are less of us out there and every school setting I have been around over the years has said that more men are needed in elmentary schools. I sure don't think it hurts.
     
  29. JustWannaTeach

    JustWannaTeach Rookie

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    May 17, 2011

    I will be teaching first grade next year. This thread is super helpful. Thank you to all the veteran teachers who have contributed what we need to know the first year without sounding demeaning in nature. It always hurt my feelings when my cooperating teacher was fussing at me the things I needed to know...it wasn't what she said but how she said it...ALL. THE. TIME.
     

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