If you’re a first year teacher, then we’ve got a guaranteed treat for you this month. There will be tons of tips that we wish we would have known when we first started teaching. For me, here’s some of the HARDEST things I wish I had of known when I first started teaching.
This is quite possibly number 1 or 2 on the I WISH I KNEW! Top List Countdown if there was such a thing. I absolutely used to think I had to do every single thing since it was on the lesson plan.
Because. Obviously. There are hidden cameras in our classrooms and there is a team of people watching every thing we did. Or didn’t do. Right? I was so paranoid to deviate from the lesson plan that I am positive I missed out on some meaningful learning. It didn’t take me too many years to figure it out though. By my third year, I knew this was something that wasn’t a deal breaker for my teaching career.
My kids learn so much more when the conversation is student led. If they deviate and it’s a meaningful conversation, I stick with it. If they’re laughing about that wet spot on our rug, I bring it back VERY quickly.
My point, if you’re a new teacher, a vet or somewhere in the middle like I am, know that it is OKAY to not do what’s on that lesson plan. You can always tack on the importance stuff later in the week to squeeze in that “perfect student led learning moment.”
*Sigh* Teachers. It is OKAY when that bell rings or BEFORE that bell rings to CLOSE YOUR DOOR. You will not be frowned upon. People will still like you. However, I feel like that should be your time. Time to either prepare for the day or wind down and get prepared for the next day.
I keep my door open all day while I’m teaching. It’s a very rare situation if my door is shut. With that said, people know when I’m busy. They usually don’t come or knock if it’s closed unless it is important. This way, you can actually focus on what you are doing and get it done so you can get home. If it’s before school, you can use your time wisely to get ready for the day. Easy right? If someone comes to your room, just tell them that you’ll help them as soon as you’re all finished up with what you’re doing or tell them tomorrow.
My first three years… they were ROUGH. So, my first three years of teaching was in a pretty decent sized school. There were 8 of us in kindergarten. 5 of them literally had perfect classrooms.
I wanted that perfect classroom. Did it happen that first year? No. Second or third year? Not even close to. However, I did figure out that what helped me to achieve a level that I was okay with and that the faculty and staff came to appreciate was organization.
I am not VERY organized when it comes to the kid’s supplies and materials. Everything has to have a place. My things isn’t quite the same. However, people come to my room looking for different and very random things. I know exactly where everything is.
When you began teaching it’s very hard to be organized because everything is new to you. You don’t realize how much STUFF you acquire and how much you have to keep in an orderly fashion. I used to get overwhelmed with all of the paper.
If you make a binder, a folder, a tray for each of the different places in your school that papers can be sent – that will save you a lot of headaches. Then, when you get a paper such as a field trip permission slip, you just place it in the office folder. Papers don’t up lost.
For my kiddos, I make sure they are as organized as possible. It’s kindergarten and they’ve never seen extreme cases of organization with everything labeled unless they’ve got a crazy labeler as a mom at home. For this reason, keep everything the same and try not to overwhelm the kids with TOO many labels with tons of differnet colors.
I label my kids drawers where they keep their headphones, math tool kit, and other little things throughout the year. I also label all of their journals our book bins, their book bins, our word work materials and various things around the classroom. If you do NOTHING else before back to school, please label your classroom library. You will save so much time if you have a lot of books as I do.
I wish I knew that I would need behavior notes two to three years after I’ve seen that child grow and leave our school. I keep a binder like this during the school year. I get a new binder the next school year. These are the ONLY binders I have in my classroom that belong to me. I don't keep my teaching material in binders anymore. The reason I keep these is because court cases may come back to hunt you and I'll have these with notes of conferences, progress of each child and test scores. I can't guarantee that I'll remember each and every child 15 years from now. If I need to, I'll have these. Worst case scenario is that I'll never need to pull them out. I'm okay with that. I had a teacher friend get pulled into court about a kid from maybe 4 years prior. She was terrified of what they would ask. I have to be prepared.
Last, to play off the being happy, make sure to LAUGH. Teaching is such a thankless job that we need to remember to just laugh some of the craziness off. Don't do the ugly cry over things that you cannot control. Laugh and move on.
Have a great school year!!!