July 26, 2022
With the start of the new school year rapidly approaching, I wanted to welcome all the new educators out there! Whether you are newly graduated and starting your first career, or becoming an educator from another career, you are in for an adventure!
If you’ve been a educator before, maybe some of these ideas can up your game this year, or be in the back of your mind for the new teacher you are sure to be mentoring this year.
No matter why you chose education, it is certain to surprise you at some point.
It is also easy to become overwhelmed and make your work day longer than it needs to be. As you start your adventure, be sure to plan for personal care time every day and a full day each week–otherwise, you will burn out quickly. Designating tasks and days can be a huge help for this.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to fellow teachers on your team, or to your learning coaches and mentors. We have all been there and often end up keeping our heads down and getting things done, but we know what it’s like to have questions, even without knowing what those questions are. Success tip: try to limit to only one or two people you connect with or have a teaching style you want to emulate, and reach out to as mentors to keep from getting overwhelmed with ideas, and set up a weekly or biweekly time to touch base with them.
You do not have to be perfect! You will make mistakes, forget to make copies, spill coffee on student work that wasn’t graded (or your dog will eat it, like mine tried!) and you will call students by the wrong name. And that is okay. It is good for students to see adults make mistakes and correct them.
Your classroom doesn’t need to look like a pinterest project! They are there for learning, so put your passion and excitement into the lessons you lead and decorate with the work they create. A clean, comfortable space they feel safe in is a winner every time.
As for your lessons, don’t be afraid to get a teachers pay teachers subscription or co-plan with other teachers and share resources and ideas. The goal is to help them master a skill and check for understanding in the work–that doesn’t have to mean tons of grading, though. Be strategic in what you have them do and make it meaningful and, if possible, real world applicable, so they see those skills outside of a classroom. It’s all about working smarter, not harder.
Don’t volunteer for too many committees or duties. Be selective and do what you are passionate about. And if you don’t have a choice, give it your best.
Always be a few minutes early to meetings and duties–being late creates issues for everyone and, as luck would have it, that is usually when students get into mischief and cause problems you’ll have to answer for. And don’t ask too many questions in the meeting. Write them down and ask the speaker one on one afterwards. Trust me on this one.
Job charts are a lot of work. Instead, enlist student volunteers if you have older students, or parent helpers with younger ones. Don’t be afraid to ask for things or help. Not all parents can, but there are always some that are willing to help out.
If you have female students 4th grade or above, keep feminine hygiene products close to the bathroom they can get to discretely, but not in the bathroom where the boys can find it. A valuable lesson I learned when, one year, a male student wallpapered my portable bathroom with every maxipad in the bathroom cabinet. The school nurse or parents can help with providing these items to keep a stash available.
If you must do a seating chart, take a panoramic photo with your phone and print it. It’s faster, you can add names and labels, if needed, and it helps the substitute teacher with faces. I also like this method since I change my seating arrangement based on activity, so I just have one for whatever configuration we use, and they can find it if they forget. (I kept mine on a clipboard along with my lesson plan for the week on the corner of my desk–nothing that would be a privacy violation, but definitely kept me organized and ready).
Keep a spare outfit (down to shoes and jewelry), a tshirt and shorts, and a tide pen at work. An unexpected spill on an important visitor day, covering duty or another class for the teacher that had a family emergency, or just accidents that happen and you will be glad you have it there!
You can live off of the paycheck of a teacher, but it will take intention and some sacrifice to do so. Of course we don’t make enough for what we do, but we are public servants and knew that getting into it. Invest and save, spend frugally, and look for those discounts and loan forgiveness options if you have student loan debt. It can be done and you won’t have to work a second or summer job, unless you are working towards an additional goal, or it’s a transitional season in life.
At some point, you will feel overwhelmed and like quitting. You’ll hear other teachers living for Friday, only to go home and grade all weekend. You’ll hear countdowns to breaks and summer. Some teachers will complain, ask you why you chose this instead of something else, or even tell you to run the other way and do anything but be a teacher. Don’t listen to it.
This may not be for you, but that is for you to decide based on experience. If this subject or grade isn’t a fit for you, try something different. One of my brilliant mentors my first few years teaching gave me sage advice–never quit after a bad year, always come back and try again. Those words have gotten me through some challenging times–some years are just like that.
But the joy of seeing your kids using what they learned from you, or excited to see you after you’ve been out or asking about your weekend, seeing them grow into adults that you run into in your community, or teaching their children some day–those are the moments that make it worth it and reinforce your why.
So, grab those colorful markers and sentence strips or index cards you bought and write your WHY out on it, then hang it on your bathroom mirror, back of your door you leave home through, or attached to your sun visor in your car. You’ll need the reminder if it’s been a rough day. But you’ll love seeing it on a good day, too!
If you are looking for specific how to’s or ideas, check out the teaching tab in my blog for all sorts of ideas and practices! I am so glad you are here, we need people like you helping mold our future citizens into the awesome people they are meant to become!
Like or comment below with your tips and tricks, or questions, and share with others to support the blog. I post twice a week about teaching, traveling and family. Until next time, you can find me on Twitter @AddictedtoTeac1 or on Tiktok: @sonya.BOMSquadleader. You can find more about our adventures on our our website at BarnesOnMove.com, Facebook, TikTok & Twitter: @BarnesOnMove . Support us and get more in depth and personal interactions at Patreon: Barnes On Move