Teaching is a noble profession, but the first year after you graduate can be a daunting experience. If you're a new teacher, you might already be feeling stressed out by all of your responsibilities. Luckily, there are some simple strategies that you can use to help you develop as a professional, get to know your students and their parents, and maintain your health and sanity through it all.
Method 1 of 3:Developing as a Professional
1Introduce yourself to your colleagues. When you first begin at your new job, take some time to meet your coworkers. Poke your head into nearby classrooms during free periods, visit the teachers' lounge on your breaks, and greet anyone you pass in the hallway. You won't get to know everyone overnight, but these small steps can help you to forge relationships with your coworkers and promote a more positive working environment.Trustworthy SourceEdutopiaEducational nonprofit organization focused on encouraging and celebrating classroom innovationGo to source
Try saying something like,"Hi! My name is Jennifer Carlson. I'm the new Spanish teacher."
As an added bonus, getting to know other teachers can help you to learn the ins and outs of your school, students, and supervisors.
2Spend time around other teachers who are positive and competent. There may be some teachers who say overwhelmingly negative things or who don't have the greatest attitude, and its best to avoid spending too much time around them. Instead, spend time with teachers who have good attitudes and are passionate about the profession. This will help you to stay positive and engaged as well.Trustworthy SourceEdutopiaEducational nonprofit organization focused on encouraging and celebrating classroom innovationGo to source
For example, if you notice that a particular table in the teachers' lounge often turns into a gripe session, avoid sitting at that table.
3Participate in workshops, conferences, and online courses. Any professional development opportunities that you can get involved in are worth your time, especially in your first year! These programs will help you to build skills to not only survive, but also thrive as a teacher. Ask your colleagues and supervisors about the professional development opportunities available to you.Trustworthy SourceEdutopiaEducational nonprofit organization focused on encouraging and celebrating classroom innovationGo to source
You may be able to take paid time off to attend a conference or take a workshop, but if not, an online course is a good alternative.
Conferences and workshops are also great opportunities to network with other teachers.
4Observe other teachers to get ideas for your own teaching. If you're permitted to do so, sitting in on another teacher's class is a great way to learn. You can get ideas for how to manage your class, plan lessons, and engage your students. Ask your supervisor if it's possible for you to observe a few of your fellow teachers to see how they do things.Trustworthy SourceEdutopiaEducational nonprofit organization focused on encouraging and celebrating classroom innovationGo to source
For example, you might notice while observing another teacher that they have a great strategy for getting students to speak up. You could adapt this for use in your classroom.
Tip: Note that you don't have to observe a teacher who teaches the same subject or grade as you. Just try to observe a teacher who is experienced, confident, and effective.
5Write out a personal vision of yourself as a teacher. Solidifying the type of teacher you want to be may also help you accomplish your goals in the classroom. Think about what you aspire to be known for as a teacher and what qualities you value. Write these down in list form and then turn this list into a mission statement for yourself. Keep it somewhere that you will see and read it every day, such inside your planner or taped inside a drawer of your desk.Trustworthy SourceEdutopiaEducational nonprofit organization focused on encouraging and celebrating classroom innovationGo to source
For example, your list might include qualities such as consistency, kindness, timely grader, fair-minded, and intuitive.
You could write out a mission statement that reads, “I am consistent and kind in all interactions with my students. I grade assignments in a timely manner. I handle conflict with fairness as my guide. I rely on my intuition and training when I am unsure of what to do, and it leads me to the right choice.”
6Look for a mentor who can help you to grow. Don't try to do everything on your own in your first year as a teacher. Having a mentor is an important part of the process. Ask your supervisor about other teachers at your school or in your district who might be willing and able to mentor you. Choose someone who has a positive outlook and whose teaching is something you'd like to emulate.Trustworthy SourceEdutopiaEducational nonprofit organization focused on encouraging and celebrating classroom innovationGo to source
To document what you want to work on as a teacher, try keeping a journal. You can discuss what you record with your mentor and use the journal as a way to document your progress. For example, write down any successes you had, big or small.
Method 2 of 3:Getting to Know Students and Parents
1Adopt a confident demeanor even if you're nervous. “Fake it til you make it” is a common saying that you can use to your benefit in your first year of teaching and beyond. Even if you're not confident in your abilities, don't let this show. Smile, walk tall, and introduce yourself to your students, parents, and colleagues with confidence. Keep doing this until it becomes second nature and the confidence becomes real.
Tip: Always wear clothes that make you feel confident for an added boost. If you're uncomfortable in what you're wearing, it will be harder to look and feel confident.
2Send a welcome note home with students to introduce yourself. Write a short letter to introduce yourself to your students' parents and send one home with each of your students. Include your name, subject, where you graduated from, and any other relevant details they might want to know about you. You might even list a few of the activities you have planned for the school year to give parents a taste of what their kids will be doing in your class.
For example, you could write something like, “Hello and welcome to 6th grade English! I'm your new teacher, Mr. Ferguson. I'm new at Shadybrook middle school. I graduated from American University last May and I have a Bachelor's degree in English education. This year, we'll be reading lots of short stories, poems, and a few books. We'll even get to write a few poems and stories of our own. I'm looking forward to a great year with you! Call or email me with questions any time. Best, Mr. Ferguson.”
3Show interest in your students' lives to gain their trust. Talk with your students one-on-one whenever you have the chance. Let them know that you're interested in them by asking questions about their lives and interests outside of school. Make sure to pay attention to their responses as well so you can follow up with them later.
For example, if a student arrives early to class, you might say something like, “Good morning, Harry! How are you today?”
If one of your students wins an award, try saying something like, “Congratulations, Svetlana! I heard that you took first place in the spelling bee. Way to go!”
4Start and end parent-teacher conferences on a positive note. It can be especially nerve-wracking when you start meeting with parents to discuss their kids' progress in class. One way to make these sessions run more smoothly is to use the sandwich approach. This is when you begin and end the feedback you want to provide with a positive comment about their child.
For example, you might offer feedback on a student by saying something like, “Charlize is so pleasant and friendly with all of her classmates. She's an excellent role-model and I know that many of the other kids look up to her. I've noticed lately that she's having a bit of trouble keeping up with homework, and I have talked with her about it a few times, but so far I haven't seen an improvement. She's been busy with yearbook committee and cheerleading, so she might be overwhelmed. I know she is very intelligent, so I'm sure we can find a way to work on this.”
Tip: Focus on your students if you get disheartened. Any time you struggle with teaching, try to shift your focus back to your reason for entering the profession in the first place. Think of your students and what you hope to teach them.
5Schedule a few home visits to gain insight into your students' lives. In the first month of classes, you might want to pick a few students to visit at home. Try calling their parents to set up a time to visit them. This can be an effective way to learn more about what your students are like outside of school, what their family culture is like, and what challenges they might be facing.Trustworthy SourceEdutopiaEducational nonprofit organization focused on encouraging and celebrating classroom innovationGo to source
Try calling a parent and saying something like, “Hello Mrs. Cole, I'm your son's new science teacher and I am hoping to visit a few of my students at home to learn more about them. Would it be possible for me to stop by sometime after school one day next week for a quick visit?”
During the visit, avoid taking notes or acting like you're evaluating their home life. Just talk with the parents and student to get to know them better. Ask how the students' other classes are going and ask the parents if there's anything they'd like to ask you about the class.
If a parent says no to a home visit, don't press them. Simply ask someone else.
Method 3 of 3:Taking Care of Yourself
1Adopt healthy habits to maintain good health and high energy. Good self-care is crucial for surviving your first year as a teacher, so make your physical health a priority. Eat healthy foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean protein, and steer clear of unhealthy convenience foods, such as fast food and vending machine snacks. Go to bed at the same time every night to ensure that you get at least 7 hours of sleep every night. Also, try to exercise for at least 30 minutes on 5 days of the week to stay in good shape. Some other good habits to adopt include:Trustworthy SourceEdutopiaEducational nonprofit organization focused on encouraging and celebrating classroom innovationGo to source
Using relaxation techniques to manage stress, such as deep breathing, yoga, and meditation.
Avoiding alcohol and drugs.
Not smoking or quitting smoking if you're a smoker.
2Say “no” if you don't have time for more in your schedule. You'll often be asked to give more of your time and talents as a teacher, so it's important to know your limits. Pay attention to how much you have on your plate and say “no” when you feel that you're being stretched too thin. If extra tasks you've taken on are interfering with your teaching, take a step back and see what you can cut out.
For example, if you're serving on 2 committees and someone asks you to serve on another one, it's perfectly fine to say “no.” Try telling them something like, “I wish I could help, but I can't. Thanks for thinking of me, though!”
Tip: If you're overwhelmed by your current responsibilities, talk with your supervisor. They may be able to offer you some advice for how to manage things.
3Make time for your hobbies and interests every week. Do something that you enjoy every day, even if you can only devote 15 minutes to it. This will help to keep you refreshed and happy. Avoid working non-stop after you get home from school or over the weekend.Trustworthy SourceEdutopiaEducational nonprofit organization focused on encouraging and celebrating classroom innovationGo to source
For example, after you get home from work, you might take time to sit and knit, read a book, play a video game, or bake something. Do whatever it is that you enjoy most!
4Take advantage of any personal days that you have. Teachers usually have personal days available that they can use for any reason. Find out how many days per year you are entitled to and use these to give yourself a break now and then.Trustworthy SourceEdutopiaEducational nonprofit organization focused on encouraging and celebrating classroom innovationGo to source
For example, if you need a day to get caught up on laundry, run errands, or just hang out in your pajamas and watch movies all day, do it! Get a sub and enjoy a day to yourself.