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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Advice for New Teachers

Today is Teacher Talk Tuesday over at Blog Hoppin'. It's an opportunity to go back in time and offer new teachers the valuable "If I'd Knew Then..." advice. Hmmm... that's a hard one to narrow down! Haha! The biggest tidbit I can give is this:

Know that you will never be finished learning- and that's the best part!

  • Invest in Music. If you know me, I can hear you chuckling and saying, "Of course, this would be her first bullet!" Dr. Jean, HWT Get Set for School, Hap Palmer, Greg & Steve, etc. These are great CDs that have the standards built in and connect learning across multiple learning modalities. The more connections you can make, the more chances there are for the material to stick! These songs make great transitional activities to build learning into every second of the day. They also make great intros into different sections or subjects. I like to use the songs as quick focus activities to get our brains geared for learning in a new direction (math songs to get ready for a math whole group lesson, nursery rhyme songs to get ready for a poetry lesson, etc.).

  • Management, Management, Management. You will probably change this every year for the rest of your teaching life, but it's really important to decide on something now!  What works for you, what do you like about one plan? Take what you like and make it work for you. You don't have to follow one behavior plan to a T. You don't have to do what everyone else is doing. I'm STILL coming to terms with this: IT'S OKAY TO BE DIFFERENT!!! Just be sure you know what your district behavior expectations are, your school behavior expectations are, and then do your research on Developmentally Appropriate Practices for your age group. Check out NAEYC, Conscious Discipline, Love & Logic, Rick Morris' New Management System, and Positive Discipline. Above all be CLEAR in your expectations and take the kids STEP BY STEP through each little area of the classroom. Check out Pre-K Pages for her Classroom Management and  New Teachers Bootcamp Sections for ideas on how to do this.
  • Organize, Organize, Organize: Sigh. My first year teaching, I got a job the weekend before school started. My mom and I spent our time making the room look inviting by painting rabbits on the walls that encouraged kids to read. Ha! I SHOULD have been thinking about the flow of the room. The stability of an organized room would have been much more comforting to my students than a cute little bunny! If you fail to plan, you plan to fail, right? Have a place for everything and everything in it's place. You will not believe the amount of paperwork both on the kids side and on the teacher side (I call it front and back of the house). For the kids side, I have found it helpful to make a tray or file folder in a hanging file box clearly illustrated by subject for kids to place their paperwork. These trays are placed near the area they are needed for me/the kids, but other teachers find it helpful to place them all in one area along a long counter or in cubbies. For the teacher side: binders, binders, binders. The clear view kind so you can illustrate the front to match the subject or meeting. Easier to find when buried. ;) Check out the Clutter Free Classroom blog, Debbie Diller, The Cornerstone, The Daily Five and Cafe, and you DID keep your Harry K. Wong book from college, didn't you? Crack that thing open. ;)

  • Keep it simple. Choose a color scheme with 1-3 colors and stick with it throughout the room to keep it visually calming for both you AND the kids. All the cutesy stuff will come later... from the kids! You don't have to have a completely full room covered with store bought seasonal posters and die cuts on the very first day with every item open and available for your kiddos to rush in and dump all over the floor and step on. Phew! Let me say this again for those teachers who hear otherwise from their admin. YOU DO NOT NEED TO HAVE ALL ITEMS OPEN AND AVAILABLE THE FIRST DAY WITHOUT HAVING INTRODUCED PROPER HANDLING AND SAFETY PROCEDURES FOR THOSE ITEMS. Take it slow in the beginning so that you can fly in the end. If you are lucky enough to have admin who will trust in you and your degree that says you know what you're doing, they will be pleased with the incredible progress your kiddos make later in the year by teaching procedures and routines step by step early in the year.
Now it's your turn! What advice do you have for new teachers? I still consider myself a new teacher and would love to hear from you! Join in, link up, have fun!

Happy, Happy First Year!


    1. I agree with everything in your post. Management and organization are huge! Every year I have to adjust my management depending on the class I get. I'm going to have to check out those CDs. I have some go-to ones that are in my curriculum, but I'll have to look into those. Thanks for sharing.


    2. I think that adjusting your management depending on your class is a sign of a truly wonderful teacher. The more tools you have in your toolbox, the better you are at making the machine run smoothly! I'd love to know about the CDs you have in your curriculum. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your lovely comment!