50 Things Every First Year Teacher Should Know New Teachers by Joel Wagner - September 2, 2012August 6, 20173 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 theÂ first year teachers out.Â 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. 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. Persevere Learn from the wisdom of others Avoid gossip Work diligently Leave room for a personal life Live on less than you earn Students are a reflection of their parents Students are a reflection of their teacher Persistent problems are usually caused by something you are doing/allowing/omitting/forgetting Find a core group of other young teachers and learn together Mistakes happen; admit when you are wrong Parents often know about problems before class is over; students text crazy fast and subtly If a parent complaint is going to hit an administrator’s desk, make sure they are prepared beforehand Take “mental health” days off from time-to-time as necessary Don’t try to understand why kids do what they do, try to planhow you will respond We’re all making it up as we go Don’t take anything personally Love your students Don’t let anyone walk all over you Smile more (read You Better Smile Before Christmas!) Plan your lessons, but don’t tie yourself to your lesson plan Fire drills happen Bus tires don’t always stay inflated Bus wrecks sometimes happen too Before you yell at kids for not staying focused, think back to how your acted during your last inservice Don’t argue with anyone in front of anyone else Choose your battles (I used to have kids call home about chewing gum, now I simply have them spit it out) Practice THE LOOK (authoritative, but not condescending) Study your body language Shut your mouth more often Strive to eliminate these words: Umm, uh Minimize the use of these words: Like, cool, well Ending your directives at a lower pitch level will greatly increase student compliance 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 Write that same focus area on a post-it note and keep it with you whenever you are teaching When you listen to the recording the next week, figure out if the problem got better; if not, address it again If a problem persists for three weeks in a row, move on to another problem and come back to this one later 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 Go observe other teachers as much as you can Find at least one mentor Create a Culture of Encouragement rather than a Fortress of Fear Remember that your students are real multidimensional people Teenage girls are crazy; Teenage boys occasionally have brains and use them even less often Respect comes when people feel safe Be as consistent as you possibly can be If you must be inconsistent, make every effort to at least be fair Make someone’s day every day Say “thank you” more The secretaries run the school/district; treat them accordingly Don’t seek out special recognition What are your best First Year Teacher tips? Share them in the comment section below. Joel WagnerJoel 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.