Things you wish you knew in your first year...

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Nicholas92, Dec 11, 2016.

  1. Nicholas92

    Nicholas92 New Member

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    Dec 11, 2016

    Any great pieces of advice for a new teacher? What things should I buy? Teacher Planner? etc.

    I'm a secondary school teacher, starting in January :)
     
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  3. shoreline02

    shoreline02 Cohort

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    Dec 11, 2016

    What subject? grades?
     
  4. justwanttoteach

    justwanttoteach Cohort

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    Last year was my first year. I have an endless supply of pencil and jolly ranchers in my classroom. Also buy a box of those tiny golf pencils. If student forgets their pencils they can use your tiny ones. Its cheaper than buying huge packs of regular size pencils and the kids hate using them.

    Things I wish I had known last year that I get now: Before jumping into content with your students spend some time getting to know them and vice versa. This is super important!
     
  5. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Dec 11, 2016

    Know your content.
     
  6. Nicholas92

    Nicholas92 New Member

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    Dec 11, 2016

    :)
     
  7. Nicholas92

    Nicholas92 New Member

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    Dec 11, 2016

    English and Humanities :)
     
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  8. justwanttoteach

    justwanttoteach Cohort

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    I am not sure what grade level you have for English or what your access to technology is but if you have access to commputers try these websites

    www.readtheory.com
    Provides reading comprehension quizzes and passages to students based on their lexile abilities.

    www.noredink.com
    Good for grammar and reading skills. REALLY good for EL students

    www.writeabout.com
    Provides daily journals or writing prompts

    www.edpuzzle.com
    Uses video clips with embeded questions for students to answer as a way of Checking for understanding.
     
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  9. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Dec 11, 2016

    Try to find the balance between being firm, strict and being flexible, approachable and reasonable. It's hard but once you get it, you will be a teacher that will be respected and liked. Not too tough, not too nice, just right :)
    Also be consistent in everything you do. Procedures, grading, lessons, discipline, everything. That also very hard but one of the most important things.
     
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  10. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Try to find the balance between being firm, strict and being flexible, approachable and reasonable. It's hard but once you get it, you will be a teacher that will be respected and liked. Not too tough, not too nice, just right :)
    Also be consistent in everything you do. Procedures, grading, lessons, discipline, everything. That also very hard but one of the most important things.
     
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  11. heatherberm

    heatherberm Cohort

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    Dec 11, 2016

    Procedures and routine, procedures and routine, procedures and routine.
    They'll always be more work to do so at some point, you just have to stop.
    You'll pretty much always feel overwhelmed that first year, especially coming in after the year has started. It's completely normal.
    Try to enjoy your students as people as much as you can.
     
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  12. chris duryea

    chris duryea Rookie

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    Dec 19, 2016

    I would echo all of the above and add two pieces of invaluable advice I received from veteran colleagues during my first year:

    1. Your main job during your first year is to survive. You will mess up. You will make miistakes. This is what the first year is. But you will also have good days--and those are the days when you want to be most reflective about your choice to become a teacher. But you have to survive. If you are still there at the end of the year, you've earned your pay.

    2. One of the best days of your teaching career will be the first day of your second year. This is when it will really sink in how much you have learned. And you will realize that the cyclical nature of the job means that a whole year's worth of mistakes can be wiped out in a single day.

    Kep going! You'll get there! :)
     
  13. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Dec 19, 2016

    Be yourself. If someone tells you "this always works" but it isn't you - don't be afraid to drop it.
     
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  14. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    Dec 19, 2016

    This is so true. This is my first year and I've literally been in survival mode since day 1. It does get better, and it does get easier - but don't try to do everything at once in your first year. You will drive yourself crazy trying to be perfect at everything all the time. Sometimes you'll teach a lesson that's fantastic; and sometimes every single thing will go wrong - including things you didn't even think COULD go wrong. Push through those days; do your best not to lose your cool and blame the students, and start fresh the next day.

    My first year has been almost entirely focused on behavior and classroom management. If they learn things, that's fantastic, but I know that I can't possibly focus on classroom management AND content this year. Since I can't get content without a classroom that functions well, I've gotten more able to stress less about whether they learn all the content (which sounds bad but hear me out). My students ARE learning; but if they DON'T learn something perfectly, I can't beat myself up about it. If you try to work on too many things at once you'll drive yourself crazy the first year. Again - survival. Classroom management and behavior are the bare bones of a classroom where students learn well, so start there and work your way up.

    ALSO. Don't feel bad if you cry, feel overwhelmed, want to quit, or sometimes hate your job and question your sanity for taking it. (I'm really selling it, aren't I?) I cried on my 2nd day and felt like a huge failure, and I cried almost every day for the first couple weeks because I was so stressed. IT GETS BETTER. It gets easier. But it is HARD. It feels like barely keeping your head above water. Do what NEEDS done and don't worry about the rest.
     
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  15. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Dec 21, 2016

    This is obvious to most folks, but keep a calendar. I knew two first year teachers who did not. They no longer work in the district.

    I don't think that's entirely the reason they were not renewed, but being late for deadlines is not a way to make a positive impression.
     
  16. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Dec 21, 2016

    1. Be yourself. Accept advice and ideas from your colleagues, but always make it "your own".

    2. It's all about relationships. Get to know your students.

    3. You need to be your students' biggest advocate. I learned the hard way what happens when teachers don't advocate for what their students need.

    4. Be proactive with communication. When you mess up, admin, parents & students should find out from YOU. There is nothing worse than an admin or parent upset over hearsay.

    5. It's the greatest job on the planet so LOVE it
     
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  17. CharRMS

    CharRMS Companion

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    Dec 21, 2016

    One of my favorite things I did last year during my first year was to color code my classes: 1st block is green, 2nd block is pink, and 3rd block is blue. Almost everything my students and myself use are coded in those three colors. Their folders, writing/reading notebook crates, turn in baskets, to grade baskets, return baskets, tabs in my binder, my pen colors, white board markers (I write missing assignments on the board and then use the class color to write the student's name), etc. I bought most of my bins at the Dollar Tree, which helps because they have a lot of different types of bins and usually in the same color. This simple idea has helped so much. The first week or so of school, I constantly remind or ask the students what color they are and they pick up quick. It has helped my room and myself become more organized.

    Also, It's okay to feel like you're still learning because you are!
     
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  18. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    Dec 22, 2016

    ,
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019
  19. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I've changed my system several times to fit the school and assignment. As long as you HAVE a system, I don't think there's a wrong way.
     
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  20. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    ,
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019
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  21. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    When it comes to discipline and whatnot, it is easier to loosen up later on down the road than to tighten up. Don't worry about being the cool teacher--worry about developing a solid classroom management plan.
     
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  22. pinkcupcake90

    pinkcupcake90 Companion

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    Dec 29, 2016

    Woo hoo! That's what I'm talking about, baby! Congratulations on your first year!

    So, I think the best thing to know is this: smile as much as you can. My first year of teaching was a catastrophe, but whenever I would smile, it would make the day go by much faster. It's amazing what a smile can do.

    Also, if your kids give you a hard time, don't take it personally. They're just kids. :p

    I think you're going to do great! :D
     
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  23. Bo C

    Bo C Rookie

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    Dec 29, 2016

    For the first two weeks, don't teach!! Seriously. A few years into my career, I finally took my dad's advice (he was a lifelong teacher) and got to know my students in the first two weeks instead of teaching them anything at all. I instead focused on building trust with them and explaining to them why I was there. That level of vulnerability builds trust quickly.

    After those two weeks of developing a relationship with your students, I promise that you will finish more of your planned curriculum then other teachers at your school. Why? Because your students have become active participants in the classroom, they will work hard for you every single day - and get so much more out of your instruction!

    Let me know if you want to know more about my method. It's worked wonders for me :).
     
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  24. kaitydid

    kaitydid Rookie

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    Dec 30, 2016

    You've already gotten some really good advice, but I do want to add something that's not classroom specific: set aside some time for yourself. This is something I wish I had done when I was going through my first year last year. I was so wrapped up with working and thinking about my kids that I rarely set aside some good "me" time. By the end of the year, I was so exhausted and almost at the point of burning out. Now that I'm in my second year (which, admittedly, things are so much easier this year than they were last year!), I make sure I get some "me" time. It's definitely helping me deal with the stresses that come with teaching, and I find that I enjoy teaching even more because I take care of myself.

    Your first year of teaching will be hard, and it's definitely all about survival, but don't get so consumed by work that you lose yourself too. Love your kids. Be the best teacher you can be. Work toward improving your skills. But make sure to take some time to do something you enjoy or that relaxes you--even if it's only for a few hours. Maybe it's hitting Starbucks after work on Friday. Maybe it's going to dinner with friends one Wednesday night. Maybe it's going shopping one weekend or even curling up to read a book before tackling those lesson plans. Don't feel guilty about it either! It's okay to not think about work or the kids once in awhile! You'll find that you'll be a much happier teacher that way.

    One last thing: write down some of the things your kids say. No, really! I keep a list of silly, memorable things that happen in my classroom or students have said. I love to read it every now and then, especially when I'm having a bad day. That list never fails to make me smile and remember why I love teaching so much. The kids love remembering those moments too!
     
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  25. pommom

    pommom Comrade

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    Jan 2, 2017

    I am a 1st year teacher ( 1/2 semer
    done)what exactly did you do those2 weeks to fill up class time? was there a lot of down time? I would think it would be classroom discussions during that time. We have discussions but not to the point to fill up entire class periods. I am not at that level yet...
     
  26. pommom

    pommom Comrade

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    Jan 2, 2017

    As a 1st year teacher, I am definetly in survival mode. One thing I do have down is class management. I am strict but not too strict so I am considered one of the cool teachers. Like someone said in this thread, know your content is a huge one for me. I came in thinking that I know the basics and can wing it, but that is not enough. The students expect the teacher to be an expert on the materal and be able to explain in a variety of ways. So I am constantly studying to make sure I am one step ahead of them.
     
  27. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    While I understand the motivation behind this, I really hate this advice, at least as it pertains to me and my classroom. It was a mandate from a previous administrator and it was just the worst thing ever. For one thing, in high school and in advanced courses, there isn't a ton of extra time built into the calendar to get through the curriculum, so it feels like a huge waste. Second, students get so bored, especially in high school when none of their teachers is teaching for two weeks. That's like 6 or 8 periods per day, times 10 days, of "super fun amazing team-building activities, YAY!!!". It gets old fast.
     
  28. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    I could go without teaching for 2 days maybe. 2 weeks...I'd be pulling my hair out and the kids would be off the wall.
     
  29. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I would also not the advice "don't teach for 2 weeks" literally. I understand the motive behind it, you do need to build relationships with your students, but I can't see wasting 2 weeks (no content) and classroom management-wise it would be a nightmare, at least the way I see it. Too much down time and unstructured activities. You can only have so many discussions, so many unrelated activities, and the kids would get bored, and have the idea that your class will be a lot of talking and goofing around, and then when you want to get down to business, I can see a lot of push back.

    Instead, I would of course go over procedures, expectations, maybe the syllabus the first day, and the 2nd day get to learning. This is my second year when I gave them a two day diagnostic test (not for grade) and it got everything off to a great start, I'll do the same thing again next week when we get back to school.
    But after that, you can teach + practice procedures AND build relationships. For example, if you teach English, you can give them a writing prompt that's personal to them (what was the scariest moment in your life, who is the most important person to you, describe one person/thing/moment that changed you or your life, etc) and then ask for volunteers to share, you can also share your experiences. This is a way to get to know them, open up to them, but also you're getting a writing sample and they're not looking at it as goofing off.
    So my point, teach, right away, but build in extra time for discussions, relationship and team building exercises, teaching procedures, etc.
     
  30. Bo C

    Bo C Rookie

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    Jan 4, 2017

    Not teaching for the first two weeks may not jive with everyone's schedules and styles, but I stick by my method. I had my students for 50 minutes 4 days a week. Filling that time up with frank discussion about students' interests and concerns, establishing rules, and doing some projects like creating plays in small groups was easy. It also paid off quickly because my students were very energized and ready to hop into curriculum once I really started teaching.

    You have to commit to in order for it to truly work for you. And if you're interested in trying it, start with a few days and see what happens. On the first day I literally started class by sitting down, smiling, and waiting for a student to ask what was going on. Then I'd kick off a conversation about what we all were doing there, for example why I loved teaching but also I had to support my family.
     

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