Tomorrow is the official first day of school here in central Florida (Orange county and Osceola county). I have finished my first week of pre-planning. It was…interesting to say the least. First of all, I met the fellow teachers at the school and the middle school teachers have been very welcoming. My team teacher is super sweet. This is her third year teacher and this is her third school so she’s new to the school just like I am and so I feel less alone. I also saw first hand how school funding matters. If your school don’t have proper funding, you can be dealing with lack of teachers, resources, and activities!
Take a Deep Breath/Breathe
Relax your shoulders and just breath. Take deep breaths. No really, breathe! I was also told to take time for me and to implement self-care because in this profession it is easy to get burned out. If you have to take a mental health day, do it!
Your First Year Is Your Hardest
I’m not trying to be a negative Nancy but facts are facts. The first year is the hardest. You have to balance running a classroom for the first time AND making sure your students are learning AND learning and implementing all of the tasks from the district that you have to do (like Professional Development and endorsements). ITS ALOT! I’ve heard from other teachers that the first year you’re just gonna be in survival mode! Its okay and it’s normal. It’s comforting to know that other teachers have gone through the challenges of being a first year teacher. There will be times when you come home feeling like a failure and its natural to feel like that. I was told that each year it will be better and easier in the sense that you’ll know what to expect and you’ll have more experience. Don’t trick yourself into believing that every day will be rainbows and unicorns. Its gonna be hard!
Reach Out To Others
My team teacher gave me this advice. Its no secret that I’m shy and a bit timid so naturally I’m an introvert. I found myself in the beginning of the week just talking to my team teacher and not to anyone else. She told me straight up that I needed to branch out a bit and talk to more teachers. The day of “Meet the Teacher Night” I told the rest of the middle school teachers that I was just shy but that eventually I’ll get out of my shell more as time goes on (at least I was honest). They said that they understood and have been such a help to me. I’m not sure how it is at other schools but the teachers I work with are (so far) so nice and so helpful to me. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. They’ve been first year teachers before so they get it. Also, talk to your mentor teacher (if you have one. Luckily my district provides us with one). Remember that you’re not alone even if it may feel like it.
This is major for me because well…I need to work on being more organized. I’ve been told to overplay for lessons because well, if you under plan, what happens when a student is done early or don’t understand a lesson? Also, don’t wait until the last minute (like me) to work on your lesson plans. If you’re a new teacher and you haven’t made many lesson plans (or in my case the lesson plans we had weeks to turn in our lesson plans for school assignments when I was in college), you want to work on your lesson plans as soon as possible. Its important to do so to get out the kinks and can get feedback from others in a timely manner, instead of turning in a lesson plan that just honestly sucks. Procrastination is not a good look.
Don’t Try To Reinvent The Wheel
There are tons of resources for lesson plans online and you can also look to other teachers as well. They can give you advice. Get creative and stop overthinking. We have a site here in Florida called CPALMS and they have all the standards that we have to teach and they even have lesson plan ideas that we can look to. Think outside of the box. If you’re lucky enough to have some freedom in a district, you can teach what you have to (standards) but in your own way. If anything, if in doubt ask questions. Don’t be afraid to!
Look For Resources/Don’t Spend All Your Money On Your Class
This was a biggie for me as well. When I got my last check from my last job, I spent a huge (and I do mean huge) chunk of my money on school supplies for my students. Now technically its not a bad thing about spending money on your students but try to remember that you have to live too. I spent so much money that I didn’t save money for commuting to and from work, food to eat, and money to pay bills. I didn’t think about the fact that the first month back to school, we would get our checks a little bit later than we normally would (it’s just for the month you return to work). Just be smart with your money. I learned this lesson the hard way. Don’t be like me. I got school supplies from other teachers who had extra, Teachers pay Teachers has some free resources for your classroom decor and assignments and things like that for your students (you can even get some for free). There’s also a store here that once a month gives teachers free materials for class like paper, ink, books, etc. Again, don’t spend all your money on things for your classroom.
This week has opened my eyes to a lot of things. If all of this was only during pre-planning, I can only imagine what the rest of the year will be like.
One more thing: join a union! They will fight for you and cover for you. Just do it!What are some of your first year teacher tips?