Congratulations on graduating and being hired! It’s exciting and thrilling to make it through college, find a job, and be looking forward to your very first year as a teacher.
When I look back on my first year, I usually think of several things I wish someone else had told me. I’m now blessed with the opportunity to do that for others now.
1. It’s a learning year. Every day you will learn something new and different. It may be about the people that you work with, your job, teaching, or yourself. Remember to use what you’ve been taught in school and in life. One of the best things that a teacher, new or veteran, can ever be is proactive. Seek out ways to learn in your system: trainings, workshops, webinars. One of my favorite ways to learn is to focus on one are that you know you are weak in and work to improve. There are multitudes of information on-line and in books that can target any area for growth.
2. Take advice with a grain of sand. I remember being told by a veteran teacher that she never wrote down lesson plans. Ever. We weren’t required to turn them in to the principal so I took her advice when she suggested I not bother with it. Can you guess what happened? Major trouble for me when the principal observed and asked to see my plans! In the end I learned a valuable lesson-do what I know is right even if someone else is doing it different and an easier way.
3. Find a mentor. I know this is almost the opposite of the previous advice. However, after my first incident with a fellow teachers advice I was nervous to ask anyone else for help. I finally got to know another of the teachers on my grade level and she became my mentor. Six years later we are still very good friends, sources of inspiration, and wonderful coworkers. Because she had taught longer than me, she was able to point me in the right direction in so many areas that new teachers struggle with: parent communication, relations with administrators, and everyday items. Years later you will be thankful to have had a guiding hand while learning the ropes of your school.
4. Use your strengths. If I have learned one thing, it is that I should teach to my strengths and let others teach to theirs. Almost all schools now want their teachers to collaborate. This is wonderful! Collaboration is teaching smart, not hard. If you are a great Language Arts teacher, then you will be able to share your expertise with your coworkers while they share their expertise with you.
5. Become a part of the community. To be truly successful in your position, you need to become a part of the school community. Remember to always treat the custodians and secretaries with respect. They are the ones who truly run the school. Interact and volunteer to work at school events. They are fun and your students absolutely love to see you outside of school!
Remember above all else, your students are the most important part of your new job. You wanted to become a teacher so that you could instill your passion for learning in them. It’s always about what’s best for them!