Advicefor New TeachersAdapted from the readers ofFree Technology for Teachers
Relationships•Don’t forget to be yourself and show them your personality. Kids and parents see right through the dogand pony show...so just be you take a deep breath and relax.•Be humble. Take advise and listen to those that have been there before you. Reach out to the parents andkeep them informed. Be careful of the politics of your new school and dont chose a side in haste. Trynot to gossip. Be kind. Be helpful. Dont take on too much. Keep a journal of each day, note the good andthe conflicts. Keep this record private in case you need it. Do not visit with the principal about certainthings without representation. Be positive, work hard, and be a continuous learner (Marilyn Winter).•As far as the students - remember that every student has a strength but sometimes it takes a bit ofsearching. Take time to really get to know them. When you have conflict, it is much better to talk 1-1 tothe student(s) involved, rather than a public confrontation. Good luck!•Join, develop, or create a personal learning network of educators that are innovative, personable, and putstudents first.•Do not befriend students or have perceived favorites. No nicknames either.•Create a safe and fun learning community. Start with introduction icebreaker activities and establishingclass norms.• Learn how to correctly pronounce names from the language groups you will see in your class. Withmost languages, if you learn a few conventions for how names in other languages are represented inEnglish, you can pronounce them correctly. Students notice when you can say their names right!
Seeking Help•Find the best teachers in your building and respectfully request that you sit in their classes. Take notes,ask questions, watch their techniques. Get a feel for their classroom culture and apply it to your ownclassroom practice.•Ask your school librarian for help. Thats their job!•Find a mentor. Someone you can learn with/from, someone you can talk to (Greta Sandler).•Dont be afraid to ask questions! Your teaching peers, understand the school system, the calendar, thegrading system, professional contact, the curriculum, classroom management, because they have beenthrough it before. Its not a weakness to admit you dont know something!•Get to know two people in your school as soon as possible: the secretary and the custodian. These twosupport staff often work behind the scenes to keep everything running smoothly and can be your mostvaluable resource.
Parents•Call parents during the first week to introduce yourself and you will get a feel for how supportive andresponsive your parents will be. Also, try to make time to call for good things. That way when anegative phone call must be made, you already have a rapport with the parent (Miss E.).•If you are teaching at the Elementary or Middle School level, send home a weekly communication(email, etc.) to your students and parents. They will love the updates and the feeling of being connectedto school. It will also allow you to get out important reminders and class news all in one shot!•Give parents the following assignment @ orientation or on the 1st day of school: "In a million words orless....describe your child." This is a very effective way for parents to have an opportunity to give youboth the positives & negatives about their childs personality, learning styles, ect. Students LOVE the factthat their parents have an assignment on the first day. Parents usually respond with a minimum of 3paragraphs. This assignment helped me learn names faster, as well as gain a perspective about each childin a short amount of time. Can work with all grade levels; I did it at the middle school level.
Planning•My best advice for new teachers is to always have a backup plan.•Always have a alternate lesson plan in mind, because what works with one group of kids one day maynot work with another group of kids.•Dont try to be perfect. Remember you know more than the students do. Try to sit in on other teachersclasses and see what you can learn. Finally, you will get better. Dont panic (Robert Courtemanche).•Curriculum can wait. Spend time building community and relationships in your classroom. Once youdo that, and establish norms and routines, you can fly through the curriculum (Ben K.).•Ask colleagues for advice with planning. There is a wealth of proven ideas in all schools. You dont haveto reinvent the wheel. A sense of ownership is important but so is your social life.•Know your stuff, especially if you teach teenagers. They can spot a fake a mile away. Love what youteach. If you love your subject area, that love will inevitably rub off on your students.
Planning (continued)•If a lesson bombs, dont self destruct. The sun WILL rise tomorrow morning, and the birds will singagain. You will always have another chance to make it a good lesson or activity (Joe).•Be creative, try new things, dont be afraid to fail, be as organized as you can!•Dont listen to the "yeahbutters" ["Yeah, (thats a good idea,) but (I/we tried it X years ago and) it wontwork]. If you think it will work, do it; if it doesnt work, refer to tip #1.•Dont be afraid to create the most amazing lesson plan and promptly throw it in the recycling bin whenyou see it isnt working (Meaghan Worcester).•Try everything. There is no one size that will fit all and there is no one technique or strategy that willwork all the time. Be open to new ideas so seek them out whenever you get a chance (Alfonso Gonzalez).•Be prepared to spend more time when you integrating technology in teaching and learning. Always havePlan B and C; computers dont work as we want them to sometimes. All the best!
Organization•Create an "absent box" where you place papers for absent students (with their name written on the top).Teach students to visit this box immediately upon return to class.•Get organized and stay organized. Train your students (any age!) to put things away correctly. This willsave you so much time!•Set aside time at the end of each day to de-clutter your desk and put materials in their properplace. When you walk in the next morning, you will be able to focus and move forward.•Organization...color code everything, use one paper calendar and one electronic calendar (phone orcomputer) to keep track of deadlines and meetings, file things right away (Rae Downen).•Arrive early and leave on time. Dont stay until it is finished. You will work more efficiently (GailBraddock).•As much as grading sucks, keep up with it. Procrastinating on grading only hurts your studentsperformance and makes a lot of work for you at the last minute. Also put those grades in the gradebookright away so you arent getting asked daily (by students, parents, administrators) when grades will beupdated (Heather).
Management•Have a plan for discipline infractions from DAY 1. Follow it to the letter for the first two weeks. Kidswill get the message that you mean what you say and say what you mean (Miss E).•My best advice: be consistent, be respectful of them (its a 2-way street), be ready to listen when theywant to talk to you, be ready to share yourself with them, and start off by building a community wherestudents can take risks and feel safe. (Debra)•Dont take it personal.•Be consistent, firm and fair. When the bell rings come out teaching!•Make sure that the students know that you are in charge. I work in a big urban district, and if thestudents can see that you are unsure of yourself, you will have a LONG year (Matt F.)•When students want to argue with you (and some will), calmly tell them, "I am not going to argue withyou," and walk away. Dont let student get you to battle (Carol).•Teaching your students classroom procedures and checking daily to make sure they are followed, makesa classroom run smoothly all year (Kim Munoz).•Dont make classroom rules you wont enforce (Jeanette).•Decide what few rules are holy and what rules can be used to teach kids take responsibility for theiractions. Never let the holy rules about behaviour etc be broken, no matter what (Linda).
Taking Care of Yourself•Get enough sleep!•Doing something for yourself every day after school that makes you happy. Learning whento put an end to your school day and realize you have a life outside of school. Dont live orcount down for your summers off because having the summer off isnt the reason why youbecame a teacher. Enjoy your students!•Limit the amount of work that you take home. I try to take work home on 2-3 days aweek and never on weekends.•The best advice I ever received as a new teacher was to go home. I loved my students andmy job, but was exhausted. I was at school 2-3 hours late every night. The lesson learnedwas that going home didnt make me a bad teacher, it meant I was taking care of myself. Ihold true to that as often as I can (Teresa Bender).•Dont try to do everything - youll never survive. Just concentrate on learning one or twothings really well, and show your kids how much fun it is to learn something new.•Be positive and surround yourself with positive teachers. Maintain a positive attitude with all of yourstudents and make a conscious effort to smile, even when your sad or angry.
Miscellaneous•Do not take the closest parking spots to the door. Those should be kept open for those teachers w/seniority or physical issues.•Be honest and make sure you work harder than everyone else around you. No one can ever fault you forthis (Brad McDiarmid).•Dont be afraid to try out new things such as Web 2.0 tools. Just remember that pedagogy and learningoutcome come first. Its alright if the response is poor or impact is minimal as there is always chance toimprove the teaching and use of tools.•Talk to a professional financial planner very early on in your career. Often it is cheaper to buy years ofservice after your 1st year than in your last 5years. Early investing is the key to secure financial future, ifthere is such a thing?•Keep learning - let your students know what you are currently working on and be enthusiastic; you willearn their respect and might help them be more motivated.•Think before you speak. When I first started teaching, I felt the need to respond to questions as soon as(if not before) they left the kids mouths. Sometimes I made things more confusing because I didnt planmy response. Sometimes I used horribly embarrassing word choices that made them giggle and my faceturn red. Now, I always take a few breaths before I respond and it turns out much better (Beth).•My former principal always said, "Children dont come from strangers." Their behaviors, attitudes, andfears... are learned by the best most influential teachers - their parents.