I certaintly don't consider myself a veteran teacher, but after teaching for 7 years I have a little advice for new teachers. Link up with Fun in Fourth Grade to share your advice for new teachers.
1. Find a mentor! Look for someone in your grade level with a similiar teaching style. Use her throughout the year. Never think that you are bothering her. Almost all teachers love to share their ideas and are flattered that you would even ask.
2. Leave work at work. After my first year I decided I wasn't going to take any work home with me at night. I would rather stay at the school late (and my first three years I stayed until at least 6:00 most nights) than take it home with me. Even now when I take things home it just ends up sitting in the car and going right back the next day- unfinished.
3. Invest in fabric for your bulletin boards. I bought mine 6 years ago and it still looks great. I prefer solids or a very small print. A darker blue tends to go with everything. You can leave it up all year and it never starts to fall or get wrinkled. Butcher paper is such a pain to swap out every month.
4. I gave up on themed bulletin board borders. For several years I worked so hard swapping out all the borders in my room each month to create themed bulletin boards. What a waste of time, energy and money! Find some cute generic ones and leave them up all year.
5. Take time before school starts to establish your rules and procedures. How will your students line up, come to the carpet, transition between centers, pack/unpack their bags??? The list goes on and on. What noise level is acceptable to you, do you want parent helpers during the day, how will you handle behavior? Think through as many procedures as possible. I actually typed up a list and wrote out step by step what I would tell my kids. The more information they have the easier it will be for you. Spend as much time as necessary going over procedures at the beginning of the year. It will be so worth it.
6. Get on your parents' good side. Respond to e-mails in a timely manner, take the time to call if there is a situation that seems a little too sticky for e-mail, be organized and send out plenty of information to keep parents informed, and create a class website/blog to showcase a few class pictures.
7. Start off the day in a positive way. I always stand at the door and greet each child. They choose if they want a hug, handshake or a high-five. End each day with a smile and a hug--even on days when everything has gone wrong.
8. Stay organized. I use binders with plastic sleeves to keep all of my "teacher copies." I have binders for my units (probably 9 or so, with 3-4 different units in each one). I also have large binders for reading, math, and assessments. I hated using a filing cabinet. Binders worked better for me. As you collect great ideas start filing them away. By the end of the year you'll be amazed at all the great ideas you have.
9. Be careful what you say out in public, especially if you live in the same city where you work.
10. Enjoy your first year! It will fly by. Teaching-- just like parenting-- is trial by fire. No one can prepare you for every situation. Try to stay positive and keep telling yourself every year gets easier. Love on the babies in your room and remember that THEY are the reason you decided to go into this profession.
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