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Congratulations you’ve been hired for your first teaching position! You are about to have a great adventure with your own students. To make your first year easier here are 10 tips that you probably weren’t taught in college, but might really help you as you get started in your career.
Tip 1 – When you meet your administrator, request information about how your school functions (chain of command) and if there are particular school rules that apply to all students. If possible get these in writing.
Tip 2 – Say hello to every staff member when you see them in the course of your day. (That includes all non-teaching staff such as custodians, cafeteria staff and so on.) You will appreciate having laid a positive foundation the first time a child vomits in your room or the nurse is at lunch or you need ice from the cafeteria for a bruise.
Tip 3 – Become familiar with the area in which you teach. Customs and language differences that differ from yours are important to know. Language differences do not necessarily mean languages other than English. In my home state of Pennsylvania, in the area around Philadelphia people will ask for a soda while those in Pittsburgh will ask for a pop. If you are not familiar with a term, ask.
Tip 4 – Compose a note to parents explaining your expectations, supplies students will need and how parents can contact you if they have questions or concerns. Be sure an administrator clears this note before you send it home to avoid problems down the road.
Tip 5 – Take care of yourself. Eat healthy, exercise, meditate whatever works for you. Teaching is exhausting, especially during your first year. You will be assaulted by every kid germ around no matter what grade you teach until your immune system adjusts to your new environment.
Tip 6 – Be yourself and be honest with your students. You may see teachers who joke with their students but if that’s not in your comfort zone don’t do it. If students ask you a question you can’t answer don’t make something up. Instead suggest that you all try to find out the answer. Showing you are human goes a long way to building a classroom community.
Tip 7 – Don’t take anything a student says to you personally. Sometimes students will say things to you out of anger at something that happened at home that morning. For example, if a student enters your room in the morning and says “I hate you,” it most likely doesn’t have anything to do with you, so don’t over react.
Tip 8 – Make your own judgments about your students. Well meaning colleagues who have taught students in your class may tell you how horrible or wonderful they are. You may be tempted to look through student records to see if you have any “troublemakers.” Resist prejudicing yourself with this information. Every child reacts differently to every teacher and classroom dynamic.
Tip 9 – As often as possible, handle your own discipline. Once you send a child out of the classroom for a disciplinary offense, you have lost a certain amount of control.
Tip 10 – When handling behavior issues be sure to state what you want to happen about the behavior. Asking a question such as “Why are you running in the halls?” doesn’t stop the behavior and might get you a response that is worse than the running. Instead, give the direction “Stop” or “Stop now” to end the behavior.