Becoming a teacher can be terrifying. Suddenly, you’re in charge of other human beings, each with their own agendas that can contradict yours. The last thing they want to do is learn about Shakespeare. But don’t worry; just as so many before you, you will be able to make it through your first year of teaching with a feeling of accomplishment. Here are some tips on how to do so.
Establish communication with parents.
Don’t wait until students are in trouble to call their parents. Start early. If possible, call all of your kids’ parents at the beginning of the school year, just to introduce yourself. This will set up a beneficial relationship and also show that you are willing to go above and beyond to help their son or daughter.
Also, try to call home for good reasons. “I was just calling to let you know that I am very impressed by the improvement that Erica has made in my class” will go a long way. Trust me.
Make sure your students always have something to do.
If your students have free time on their hands, they will often use it to disrupt those around them. So, you are tasked with keeping them busy. If you have students doing individual work, have something for them to do once they finish. Maybe the student is advanced and needs to be challenged. Have several activities planned to help them stay engaged in the material.
Plan ahead, but understand that life will get in the way.
Organization is the key to teaching. This is an occupation that requires a fair amount of outside planning and preparation. Still, flexibility is one of the best qualities a first-year teacher can possess. Just because you plan for an exam on Friday doesn’t mean the principal won’t surprise everyone with an assembly that day. So much of teaching is simply being able to roll with the changes. You never know what will be thrown at you.
Don’t forget that you are an authority figure.
That’s not to say that you have to make your students miserable, but you need to be able to take charge. Classroom management is one of the most difficult tasks for new teachers, especially those who are young. Even if you are close in age to your students, you are the one who calls the shots. From the very first day, make sure to set out your specific rules, as well as consequences for anyone who breaks them.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Between your regular school days and outside events, you will be spending so much of your time with other teachers. Use this to your advantage. Find out what other teachers are doing. Implement the ideas they have that you like and alter the ones that you don’t to fit your teaching style. Plus, teaching is very circumstantial. It’s not always easy to know how to react to each situation. When in doubt, ask more experienced teachers.
Bring your own personality into the classroom.
Students will respond to what is genuine. The best way to get them interested in any topic is seeing you geek out of it. So, incorporate your interests into your lessons. If you are a music aficionado, then find songs that relate to your material. When you have fun teaching, the students are much more likely to have fun learning.
Don’t forget about “me” time.
Establish at least one day each week (usually Saturdays work best) when you focus on school as little as possible. Spend a day at the beach. Go for a hike. Have a Netflix bender. Do whatever helps you to rest and energize yourself for Monday morning.
Think about what flight attendants say about oxygen masks: “Please make sure to secure your own mask before helping others." How can you expect to be an effective teacher when you are exhausted all the time?