50 Things Every First Year Teacher Should Know

The first year teacher is often a very lonely and isolated person. They often feel like everyone else has everything already figured out, and they are the only one struggling. That is not the case. In fact, so many of us are in survival mode and dealing with our own issues that we forget to help the first year teachers out. Below is a list of 50 things I picked up in my first 10 years of teaching that can hopefully help you through some of those lonely times.

50 Things Every First Year Teacher Should Know

I am in my 11th year of teaching now. Where did the time go? One of the top search results that sends people to this blog is “First Year Teacher” so I thought that the beginning of a new school year would be a great time for something like this. I’m sure there are tons of other things that first year teachers should know, but here are a handful of tips.

  1. Persevere
  2. Learn from the wisdom of others
  3. Avoid gossip
  4. Work diligently
  5. Leave room for a personal life
  6. Live on less than you earn
  7. Students are a reflection of their parents
  8. Students are a reflection of their teacher
  9. Persistent problems are usually caused by something you are doing/allowing/omitting/forgetting
  10. Find a core group of other young teachers and learn together
  11. Mistakes happen; admit when you are wrong
  12. Parents often know about problems before class is over; students text crazy fast and subtly
  13. If a parent complaint is going to hit an administrator’s desk, make sure they are prepared beforehand
  14. Take “mental health” days off from time-to-time as necessary
  15. Don’t try to understand why kids do what they do, try to planhow you will respond
  16. We’re all making it up as we go
  17. Don’t take anything personally
  18. Love your students
  19. Don’t let anyone walk all over you
  20. Smile more (read You Better Smile Before Christmas!)
  21. Plan your lessons, but don’t tie yourself to your lesson plan
  22. Fire drills happen
  23. Bus tires don’t always stay inflated
  24. Bus wrecks sometimes happen too
  25. Before you yell at kids for not staying focused, think back to how your acted during your last inservice
  26. Don’t argue with anyone in front of anyone else
  27. Choose your battles (I used to have kids call home about chewing gum, now I simply have them spit it out)
  28. Practice THE LOOK (authoritative, but not condescending)
  29. Study your body language
  30. Shut your mouth more often
  31. Strive to eliminate these words: Umm, uh
  32. Minimize the use of these words: Like, cool, well
  33. Ending your directives at a lower pitch level will greatly increase student compliance
  34. Audio record 20-45 minutes of teaching a week (however much you can bear to listen to); find one area to fix and write it down in a journal
  35. Write that same focus area on a post-it note and keep it with you whenever you are teaching
  36. When you listen to the recording the next week, figure out if the problem got better; if not, address it again
  37. If a problem persists for three weeks in a row, move on to another problem and come back to this one later
  38. This same process works with your students too; if they are having a particular problem, address it three times, then move on and come back to it later
  39. Go observe other teachers as much as you can
  40. Find at least one mentor
  41. Create a Culture of Encouragement rather than a Fortress of Fear
  42. Remember that your students are real multidimensional people
  43. Teenage girls are crazy; Teenage boys occasionally have brains and use them even less often
  44. Respect comes when people feel safe
  45. Be as consistent as you possibly can be
  46. If you must be inconsistent, make every effort to at least be fair
  47. Make someone’s day every day
  48. Say “thank you” more
  49. The secretaries run the school/district; treat them accordingly
  50. Don’t seek out special recognition
READ  The Blog Revolution Begins

What are your best First Year Teacher tips? Share them in the comment section below.

About Joel Wagner 522 Articles
Joel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

3 Comments on 50 Things Every First Year Teacher Should Know

  1. Get to know your school librarian! Cultivate this phenomenal resource! We have information, we have cool technology tools, great resources, we know how to team teach and we can make your computer work! We are right down the hall! What don't have a librarian/school media in your building? Go ask your principal why not?
    Check out the FREE resources at the Minnesota Educational Media Organization M E M O website http://www.memoweb.org
    -Sally Mays, MEMO

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