Attention Teachers! Please give a newbie advice!

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  1. So I finally landed my first teaching position! (Thank you to all of you who listened to me vent while I was on the job hunt.

    While I am feeling SO excited to finally start my CAREER, I am also feeling a bit of butterflies.

    So PLEASE, if you're a teacher, offer some advice or tips you wish you knew when you started, or really just any good ideas! Thank you!
  2. Hi Kenia! First off, congratulations!!! I believe that how you act in your first year really depends on the group you are teaching, but there are some rules to always follow in order to help the year run more smoothly. Definitely pick up Harry Wong's book The First Days of School - it gives alot of practical tips that you've probably already heard, but it sorts everything through well.

    Okay, here goes for honest advice and tips I wish I had known when I started:

    Be ALOT stricter, but not "mean"
    Don't smile too much. Really.
    Don't tell anything of your personal life if you are female and young
    Realize that the kids do not share your same passion and that you can't take their comments/attitudes personally.
    Realize that many kids are just lazy and rude.
    Don't gossip.
    Be kind to everyone but don't let people walk all over you. Stick true to what you learned in college/your own beliefs EVEN IF veteran teachers are telling you "this won't work" or "do that" - you have to learn it for yourself.
    Definitely have a great behavior management system set in place and try your hardest to follow it through.
    Don't beat yourself up, don't wear yourself thin, and please, please try not to dedicate your entire weekend to teaching, although you will for at least until Christmas. It didn't get easier for me until about April.

    I just finished my first year and it was the worst year of my life. You might love it; it's different for everyone. Most people have told me that it takes 3-5 years to start feeling calm in it and not thinking about teaching 24/7. It was awful. I am giving you honest experience and advice, even though it sounds depressing.

    If you have any questions, you can absolutely PM me!!! I know that from now til school, it's all you'll be thinking about!!!
  3. Congrats!!! What grade/subject will you be teaching?
  4. I have Harry Wong's book! Actually, I think mentioning him when I was asked about classroom management during the interview is what helped land me the position! I told them that when I was doing my internship, I got to go to a teacher's conference and he spoke there. He was wonderful.

    I will be teaching 4th grade at a Baptist Private School.

  5. I have been told many times that your first year teaching is the worst. That you will look back and be like what the heck was I thinking? That lesson was horrible... lol

    Actually at the teacher's conference, I ran into my 12th grade English teacher. She was shocked to see me and said to me "Oh my gosh you graduated already? I taught you my first year teaching, I must have messed you all up bad." I thought that was funny.

    Mostly, I'm scared though because I feel like I don't have enough stuff (or ideas). How did you go about decorating and getting things together? TIA!
  6. Hi and congrats! I just want to say that ash gave some great advice.

    First is effective classroom management - without it, it doesn't matter how amazing your lessons are. No means no - do not argue with the student. He/she will always win if you do. Note that there will always be at least one or two (or more) who will test you and they will not be the "model" students. Realize you can't change all their behaviour in a year.

    Second is to be flexible and learn to adapt and modify quickly when the lesson isn't going anywhere. You may get some children with identified special needs - individualize your lessons for them if necessary (I've taught Grades 1, 7, 8 and kindergarten but my specialty is working with students with behavourial disorders). The child who doesn't understand what's going on and if you're not flexible, he/she will most likely exhibit inappropriate behaviour.

    Don't talk too much and gossip with colleagues. It's usually going to get back to you. Remember you're new and you're there to do your job and teach - not to hang out and gossip about other colleagues. Never ever argue with administration - they are always "right" even if they aren't (do so at your own risk). Do not send a child to administration unless if you indeed exhausted all avenues of appropriate behaviour management strategies.

    Setting up your junior classroom means stocking appropriate leveled books - not all your students will be reading at the same level or even at the same comprehension level. Put up literacy strategies posters on the walls as well as some motivational stuff. When you plan - you need to know what you will be teaching for the year in the general sense following curriculum expectations and learning where the children are at the beginning and where you would expect them to be at the end of the year. Set your expectations high for the students - they will try to strive to meet your expectations. If you set them low, they will stay low.

    Don't spend tons of money on your classroom and do not reinvent the wheel. Learn from your veteran colleagues and modify and adapt what they do to suit your teaching style.

    Remember to laugh! I know I do even when I had a student throwing a chair at me!!! lol
    If you have more questions just pm me as well.

    Good luck! You'll have fun!
  7. I agree with what everyone says.... are you going to be the only 4th grade teacher? You may want to see if you can contact others in your grade level to see if they are willing to share their planned curriculum with you. (Some teachers are ridiculously protective of their curriculum & others will be more than helpful).

    I also recommend this forum for teachers: A to Z Teacher Forums they have a new teacher forum where you can ask questions & vent when you're frustrated.
  8. GhstDreamer- Thank you for the detailed ideas. I have spent a lot of time thinking about the things I need and the major thing that sticks out to me is books. I have some but not many.

    I am thinking that maybe I should check out a bunch from the public library (I know they allow teachers to check out more than other people). But then I am scared that they may get lost and I'll have to pay for them. What do you recommend I do?

    Jukenpo- OMG, thank you for the teacher forum! I will indeed be the only fourth grade teacher. It is a small school, and really only has one classroom for grades K-12.
  9. As a teacher my advice is either love your job or get out. I know so many teachers who hate their jobs & take it out on the kids. I feel so strongly about this!
  10. give it 5 years before you quit. after 5 years, if it's not working, move on.

    find a veteran teacher you can relate to and be friends with. it will prob. not be one that is assigned to you.

  11. everyone gave such wonderful advice!! kenia, as for decorating your room, definitely check out the forums people suggested and get together with a veteran teacher, or as many people as you can form bonds with who are willing to help!!

    i suggest getting into your classroom as often as you can come august. i spent hoursss there last august, and am grateful that i did, because it allowed me to feel very comfortable in the room i would be in, as well as to set everything up the way i wanted. since i'm in high school, i can't give much advice on 4th grade except for centers and lots of decorations. my mom teaches 2nd and 3rd grade and has a reading center with a carpet and chairs/desks and a library, a "post office" where the kids get their work back, a spelling wall, a science station, a computer station, and there is probably a math station but i'm not sure :smile:

    best of luck to you and make sure you enjoy your summer!!!!
  12. yay!! congrats to you!!!!!!

    my advice:

    1. overplan. plan for your 80 minute class with 100 minutes of material. you never know what will work or what won't and you never want to be stuck with nothing for the kids to do.

    2. be firm and be fair. if you are going to give extra credit ops to one person, be prepared to do it for everyone else. if you give a detention to the bad kid for talking out of turn, you need to be follow through on giving it to the honors student when he/she talks out of turn.

    3. find out one thing about each kid. the more you can connect with them and relate the material to what they are interested in, the better able you will be to get and keep their attention.

    4. plan in advance. its a pain in the butt, but plan your lessons a few days in advance and at the end of each day, write some notes down about what worked/didn't work, and then next year you won't have to write new lesson plans.

    5. it is better to start out strict and stern. you can always lighten up after a while, but start off being strict. it will let them know who is in charge, especially if you're young.

    6. never challenge a kid. don't embarrass them, ever. even if that kid has brought you to tears, never EVER call him/her out on it. don't put them on the spot. hold them accountable for what they do by talking to them privately, but do not do so in front of the other kids.

    7. take time to do the little things. saying hi to the quietest kid in the room every morning, putting stickers on their homework, writing comments on their work shows that you care about what they do, call home for good reasons (little johnny was such a great helper today....) and for bad reasons (i'm just looking for a little support at home for little johnny because he seems to be calling out a lot lately).

    8. don't tell you fellow teachers too much. the deal with all schools is that teachers love to gossip. dont let them know too much about your personal life. keep everything very vague. don't talk about teachers to other teachers. they all seem to know each other and you don't want to start any drama.

    9. say no when you need to. if the principal asks you to take on an extra club when you are already involved in many other out of classroom activities, tell him/her you're very sorry, but that you need to say no, as you always want to do your very best and being involved in too much will wear you thin.

    10. try your best to leave work at work. don't come home and let the thoughts of the kids/lessons/colleagues/plans/activities/administration take over your life. allow yourself an allotted time to vent to your SO (i did a halfhour) and when that time is up, be done with it and let it go.

    very best of luck to you!! feel free to PM me at any time during the year (or before) if you need to vent/bounce ideas off me/chat/ask questions.

  13. Do not create a classroom library using public library resources. Start your own by purchasing a variety of books from second hand bookstores, garage and yard sales and talk to other teachers who are making a huge transition to a different grade level (like from grade 6 to grade 1) and if you can take those books off their hands. When you create a classroom library with staple books - include fiction, non-fiction, and books from authors of diverse ethnicity and culture.
  14. Thank you to all who replied. I will keep all of these ideas and look back on this thread as I begin this journey!
  15. This is a great thread..I'm going for my degree in elem. ed. and I'm sooo nervous! Not because of the kids so much, but the parents! Congrats on landing a position and good luck! You'll have to let us know how your first year goes, maybe update us in the fall!