Veteran Educators Share Tips for New Teachers
from the Teachers.Net Teach Talk Mailring
compiled by Jerry Taylor
A while ago, I posted a message on several listservs asking this question:
"If you could give just ONE tip to new teachers, what would it be?"
I got lots of wonderful suggestions from many, many excellent teachers. I collected all the ideas, and saved them to a file. I thought this might be a good time to post them, so here they are. I hope you find them useful.
Technology Integration Teacher
Greece, NY School District
Web page - jerrytaylor.homepage.com
TASK page - www.greece.k12.ny.us/task
From: (Debbie Fontenot)
Get organized before the school year starts. Try to anticipate what kind of filing system you'll need and make sure you have folders, labels, or whatever else you'll need to set it up. How do you plan for this if you've never taught? Ask a veteran teacher what works for them - then ask another and another. We have lots of different systems and you'll have to decide which one seems most logical to you right now. Just make sure you have what you need in a handy location so you can file quickly and efficiently. Paperwork can become an ugly monster very quickly!
From: (THURLOW, P.)
Examine your values and beliefs; be secure in those from the start, and engage in the changes and challenges you will face with them in mind.
From: (Kelli Kish)
Wear comfortable shoes! Remember that is takes time to become great at this!
From: (Barb Deardorff)
Don't get behind in your grading. It piles up fast. And, if you have access to student aides, use them!
Be flexible. If a lesson isn't working...abandon. If a lesson needs more time...extend. If a lesson has been learned...leave it for new territories.
From: (Candy Swan)
- Be consistent.
- Children do not need adult friends they need friendly adults. If you find yourself needing to be "friends" with your students or allowing them to believe that you are their friend, you will not succeed and neither will they.
From: (David Burgess)
Always look for the good in all of your charges. It is there. Find it and use it to guide you in developing their self esteem.
Be friendly with you students. Love them but always remember you are their Teacher, not their friend or buddy.
Work hard but remember, take time for # 1, you! Only when you have a life beyond school can you be complete and whole with your students and give them your best.
From: (Kristie Dilks)
Read The First Days of School, by Harry Wong before school starts. If you can't follow everything in the book, at least implement the seating chart when the kids walk in and have work for them to do the first day. Don't do any activities or try to be their friend.
My first year was bad, because I didn't act in charge from the first day on. The second year, I read the book and it was wonderful. Now I am on my third year and so far so good.
From: (Patricia O'Donnell)
Make time for yourself!
Be kind to yourself!
Show yourself in your work!
From: (Bernie Tomasso)
My one tip is not to go it alone but find one or two mentors who can answer your questions. Look for someone who has been there four or five years and remembers what it was like to be a rookie and one who is there for ten or more years and really understands the culture of the community.
From: (Amy Neeley)
Stay away from the group of teachers that complain about EVERYTHING (every school has one). They will suck the life & love for teaching right out of you!
From: (Meagan Hill Davis)
I agree with the reply about lessons working, not working, already learned, etc. I would add that there is not one way to teach - don't be afraid to be yourself and be comfortable with how you are doing it... I have seen many new teachers be afraid of doing things one way because experienced, next-door-neighbors were doing it another way. Does that make sense? Not surprisingly, I am feeling overwhelmed right now...
From: (David Hellam)
Maintain your enthusiasm for your subject. Your students need it to help them develop their own. Keep expectations high and be consistent. I know it is two [tips] but they are related.
From: (Glen Lawson)
Teaching is like gardening.
1. Be willing to beg, borrow and steal.
2. Listen to the old people.
One more, find an experienced teacher who leaves the building each day with a smile on their face. Do exactly what they do.
From: (Rhoda Hokanson)
Take one day at a time. If you feel like doing something that is not too outside the box, go ahead and do it. You can always apologize later.
I would tell new teachers that no matter what they do, they should remember to be CONSISTENT! Although it is not always easy, it is so important. I would also like to say good luck to all new teachers and enjoy your year!
Respect students as individuals with feelings, fears and dreams. They will respect you in return...you can't teach with out it.
To all new teachers, I would say, "Seat your students in alphabetical order and make sure they understand each concept thoroughly before moving to the next one."
My one tip for new teachers is: always have your gradebook with you--fire drills and all!!
Never allow yourself the luxury of losing your temper with your students. They deserve a consistent, calm teacher whom they can trust to be "the same" everyday, especially for the children whose home life isn't the same from moment to moment. When you feel yourself beginning to get angry, tell yourself that this is a matter of your students needing to be taught (or re-taught) how to behave (even if you believe they should already know) and immediately thrust yourself into the teaching mode. As you teach, you will feel yourself calming down and you will feel proud to know you didn't "downshift" your students with the sight of you being angry with them.
Also, never let the day end without having laughed with your students at least once that day.
From: (Beth Pfleger)
Always have a Plan C.
From: (Rebecca Duncan)
Never say anything you don't mean. That means promises you can't keep as well as threats you don't want to follow through on.
New Teacher Advice: Remember that you will be the topic of conversation at the dinner table every night. What do you want your students to say about you and what happened in your class today?
From: (Kristin Haynes)
Build a sense of community in the classroom, yet let the students know that you are the adult.
Stay in good with the three most important people at school: the secretary, the custodian, and the lunch lady! lol
From: (Jim/Sandy Horne)
...and stay in the computer tech’s good graces---very important if you want your computers and printers fixed in a timely manner!
From: (P.E. Chadwick)
Don't forget to be nice to the cleaning people, too!
My tip for new teachers would be to provide structure and discipline in your class. I teach on an elementary level, and I believe that our children desperately need to know that there is order and routine to their lives, and rewards and consequences for their behavior. They need to know that there is an adult who is in control.
While as a class, and as an individual, they can make decisions and rules, etc., I believe they need to know that, just in case they make a mistake, there is someone (a grown-up) who will make sure that all is right, and safe, and fair.
They need to know that, just as the sun rises each morning, their life has a routine and flow, with an occasional burst of surprise, like a rainbow.
Somewhere in your room (especially for elementary) keep a change of clothing for yourself and a clean/inexpensive sweat suit for a child. Accidents do happen.
Also decorate your room comfortably. You will be spending a lot of time there. Your classroom will be your home away from home so feel free to bring in your favorite rocking chair, pictures of your pets and a comforter to wrap up in when you get sick in the middle of the day and there isn't a sub available.
Take care of yourself. Make sure you take vitamins, eat healthy, and get plenty of rest. Get some fresh air without kiddos. You will be no good to your class if you get sick, and all veteran teachers know that the first year you tend to catch everything the little darlings have!
Addendum to this ... get the washless gel with lotion and wash your hands a lot ... this help me make it through the years... As the school librarian, I see every child in the school so I am exposed to everything.
From: (Vici Jennings)
This may sound like the goofiest advice ...wash your hands, OFTEN. I swear this is why I don't get sick. I teach on an hourly schedule, and between every class I either wash my hands with antibacterial soap or I use Purell. I also don't loan my pencils or pens to students. I'm the only one who uses them.