By: Kate Pallini
Ever since 10th grade, I’ve had my sights set on becoming an English teacher. Through the years, I’ve met people who have grown to become my closest and best friends, and many times, they were older than me and becoming teachers as well. Watching them go through education programs, student teaching, and eventually, becoming full-time teachers, there was always one warning that I’ve always been given: “Your first year will be the hardest.” No truer words have ever been spoken. My goal here is to try to give you my best tips from what I’ve learned on this crazy roller coaster ride so far!
1. Forgive yourself. You are going to mess up. A lot. But, it’s not something to get down and out about. It’s the mistakes that make you a better teacher because with each little one, you refine your work even more.
2. Never save lesson planning for last minute. As a teacher originating lesson plans each week, I like to allot myself two days a week for plans and materials for my preps.
3. Save yourself time to make copies.
4. SANITIZE. I’ve experienced some brutal illnesses during this first year so far, and I blame it all on myself for not using enough hand sanitizer. Some days, I’ll even stop lessons early just to have the kids wipe down the desks. It’s crucial to have a liter of hand sanitizer on your desk for you and your students ($6 at Staples). You’ll thank me later.
5. Have a small mailbox organized by class period on or next to your desks for handing papers back.
6. Put your Aims, Do-Nows, and Homeworks on the board each day for students to see when they come in. I like to do mine in a PowerPoint format, so that it’s literally right in front of them when they walk in (and I like cute backgrounds and fonts). It lets them know the plan of the day, what they need to do/take out right now, and what is expected of them for homework, and they can never blame you for not informing them.
7. Post all homework assignments online! If a student is absent, there’s officially no excuse for them to not know what’s been going on (Google Classroom is where I post all my stuff).
8. Be kind to every teacher you meet. They’re dealing with the same adjustment you are.
9. Remember that you are the boss of your classroom! Always know that you have the right to adjust things if they are not working, and that you must make things comfortable for yourself always.
10. Make time for you. If you need to put yourself first one day after school to wind down and reflect on getting yourself back together after a brutal day, then do it. This is a business where you need to remember to take care of yourself.