I don’t think I’ve had enough time to actually sit down and “catch up” on my year so far. I thought I’d do a little post about some tips that I have based on my experiences so far. This first 6 weeks has been a TOUGH one. If you have read my post about interview tips, you’ll see that I went to 5 interviews before I got the job that I am in now. One of these interviews was for a long term sub position that also included a coaching position. Now…thinking that I would be long term subbing at the same place where I would be coaching was an attractive idea to me. I was not planning on getting a job….so I decided to take the long term sub position in addition to the position as cheerleading head coach. After taking this job, 2 months later, I interviewed for my 7th grade teaching position (I was initially supposed to sub 11th grade English) and had to give up the long term sub position. I decided to keep coaching, and what a bad decision that was. It has been a time-suck, a stress, and overall, a dramatic experience. My tips are based off some of this, and some “new teacher craziness”
Tips for your First Grading Period!
1) Make sure you only commit to ONE thing.
First year teaching is a BIG commitment. You hear in school that other teachers will help you out and that lesson planning won’t be that hard, but that’s a big lie. I don’t care how much school you have or how many teachers help you out. You still have planning, grading, and responsibilities that no one can really “help” you with. Plus, everyone has their own unique teaching style. Tailoring your teaching style requires a lot of time.
2) It’s okay to “borrow” and “steal” from other teachers.
Do I contradict myself? I think I contradict myself. But it’s true….Borrowing from other teachers does help at times. I borrowed a syllabus from a co-worker, classroom management ideas form another, supplies from another, and first week plans from another. That’s okay. While it takes time, it still takes less time than usual. Part of teaching is stealing and sharing. That’s something I had to get used to.
3) When offered help, either accept it or pretend to accept it.
Everyone in the school is DYING to help a first year teacher. I have been there 6 weeks, and still get stopped in the hall to ask how I’m doing every day. I am the youngest at my school by about 15 years, so I have become the child. Accepting help is a good thing, but I have learned that sometimes people want to help too much. In these instances, simply nod your head, say thank you, and tell them you’ll stop by their class sometime later in the week. You have an excuse to not stop by if your get busy. Accepting help doesn’t mean you can’t do it! Accepting help means you are wiling to learn and grow as a teacher.
4) KEEP YOUR HEAD UP!
Are you drowning? Probably feels like it, but look around your classroom and realize that you aren’t in a tank of water, there is ample amount of oxygen, and in 15 minutes, the students will be gone. It’s hard. Like I said earlier, I don’t care how much school you have or don’t have. Nothing in school prepares you for the feeling of being on your own. Student teaching doesn’t even do this. You will feel overwhelmed. You will feel like you want to cry. But it’s okay! The bell will ring at the end of the day. I was told by my principal that these kids are just 7th graders and I just need to make it through my first year. Their academics will continue whether I did a good job or not. And it’s true. Not that I am giving up on my quality as a teacher, but that sometimes being 10 minutes ahead of your kids (which I am 98% of the time) is okay. You don’t have to have your whole year planned, because If you try that you will probably drown. Worry about making it to the end of the day, not making it to the end of the year.
5) People are going to think that they can do it better than you.
I have a couple of friends and co-workers that frequently offer my suggestions to “better my classroom” when they are not even in my classroom. Especially my friends that aren’t working yet. This really bothers me. I have just learned to shrug it off and move on. When they need help, I’m sure I will be the first one to offer suggestions based on my experiences (this is the whole point of my blog, right?) When people belittle your teaching and make you feel like a bad teacher, just remind YOURSELF–not them, they won’t understand–that it’s your classroom and the only people you have to please are your students and principal. Do what YOU want to do, and don’t feel like a bad teacher because other people don’t see eye-to-eye with you.
6) Don’t do it all at once.
Decorate every worksheet? Make your classroom a student paradise? Plan all your units for the year in the first week of work? Yeah….no. Just don’t try to do it all at once, and don’t try to do too much. This is my problem. I have this perfect image of my first year in my head, and it’s not living up to expectations. I just had to stop trying to do everything at once, and go with the flow of my students.
7) It takes 3 years to own a job.
My mom told me this a few days ago and I really like it. If you feel like your year is going terrible, remember that quote. The first year is you learning EVERYTHING new about your job, the second year is making those first year things work for you, and the third is really the first year of “comfort” because you have had two years of doing things your way. OWN IT later, make it work now.
Okay, I have some lesson plans to do. Be on the watch for the Out of My Mind unit coming up soon!
Love you new teachers. You’re doing great!!