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Your First Year of Teaching: From Surviving to Thriving

teacher with elementary education degree surrounded by diverse student group in library.

Wed, 11/04/2015 - 12:21pm

For new elementary school teachers, knowing where to begin can prove challenging. It’s vital for a new teacher to have a plan in mind on that very first day in the classroom. By following these tips, you can expect to hit the ground running and survive your first year with ease.

1. Remember your priorities

You studied education because you wanted to work with kids, inspire them and give them the tools to become productive, well-adjusted citizens. Once you’re entrenched in a teaching position, you’ll become increasingly focused on dealing with bureaucracy, administrative tasks and other challenges. Remember on day one why you chose this career, and don’t lose sight of your vision.

2. Finesse your first day

Along with dozens of students, classrooms include multiple moving parts — desks, chairs, teaching materials, computers, supplies, students’ belongings and more. Managing the chaos will be an ongoing process. Before students arrive, ensure that furnishings, supplies and special touches are set up the way you want them.

To kick off the first day in an organized fashion, consider:

  • Allowing students to stand up and briefly introduce themselves to their classmates.
  • Explaining the procedures you’ll use each morning, such as collecting milk or lunch money, taking attendance and stowing book bags and other belongings.
  • Taking time to point out the different areas and features of your classroom, including computer equipment, supplies and bulletin boards.
  • Discussing basic classroom rules and letting students know that they can give their opinions on additional rules throughout the year.
  • Briefly reviewing what the year’s studies will include. What can students get excited about learning?
  • Sending students home with any needed forms, along with a letter introducing yourself to parents and outlining your educational plans for the year.

Making sure students have an organized, productive and enjoyable first day will lay the groundwork for the remainder of the year.

3. Begin building relationships

No teacher is an island, and you’ll need to start laying the groundwork for solid, long-term relationships with veteran teachers, school administrators and parents to succeed in your first year. Consider the following actions:

  • Ask that your principal visit your classroom and give you constructive feedback, and ask to meet in person to get acquainted.
  • Visit colleagues’ classrooms to learn more about their teaching styles and approaches.
  • Ask veteran teachers if they have ideas or materials that might assist you in developing your lesson plans.
  • Consider sending parents a weekly report about classroom activities.
  • Invite parents to visit your classroom, and provide them with volunteer opportunities.
  • Advise parents on ways they can reinforce your lessons at home.

Thriving during your first year

Stepping into your classroom for the first time can be daunting and even overwhelming. By preparing your plan of action in advance, you can feel confident about not just surviving your first year but thriving.