Ok, let’s talk about new teachers. We’ve all been there once. Or maybe twice. Or maybe every single year when there are a bazillion new changes. New teachers are so special. Fresh out of school and ready to grab their flair pens and make a difference in students’ lives. The thing that most new teachers don’t usually realize is the workload that they are about to walk into. Sometimes, the beginning of the year chaos hinders teachers from being able to properly organize and catch their breath. This can cause a feeling of spiraling out of control. This doesn’t mean that new teachers lost their love for teaching or flair pens. It just means that they need a shoulder to lean on and some things to help them prioritize. Here are some tips for new teachers to keep their heads above water because let’s be real.. the first year, that’s the only thing they really need to do.
New teachers, these tips are for you!
1. Set Boundaries
New teachers need to set boundaries with multiple things but two main things are: parents and themselves. You will need to set a firm time that you will no longer answer calls or emails regarding students. This should be communicated at the beginning of the year to parents, and you need to stand your ground when it comes to making sure it holds true. A good rule of thumb is to shut off communication at least an hour after the school’s dismissal time. If parents contact you later than that, it’ll be the next school day before they get a response.
2. Choose Time Wisely
We all know how much there is to do at the beginning of the school year. It’s easy to get caught up staying late after school every day after students leave. The only problem is that this can lead to burnout very quickly. Choose one day each week that you’d like to stay late after school. You can pick the same day each week or switch it up if you have plans. Plan to stay a few hours after school and knock out a lot of the things that you aren’t able to get done during the day. This helps cut down on staying after school every single day.
3. Keep Things Simple
As teachers, it’s ingrained in us that everything has to be colorful, laminated, and cute. While we all love these things, skipping one or maybe two of these can save tons of time. Repeat after me: it’s ok to print stuff and not laminate it. Now, take a deep breath and say it again. You can begin to slowly do some of these things once you get your classroom into a groove and routine. Make copies of what’s needed for your lessons, maybe choose 3 colors for your anchor chart instead of all of them, and skip laminating unless necessary.
4. Form Relationships with Parents
This may seem a little contradictory to the first tip, where I suggested setting boundaries with parents. Honestly, parents are a little like the students. They need a healthy balance of bond and boundaries. Try making phone calls home or sending a quick email to tell parents something GOOD about their child. This could be something as simple as they had good listening ears today, they were a great friend, or they worked hard in math. Choose 2-3 students each week and send a good note home to their parents. A little goes a long way and trust me, life is 500% easier when parents are on your side.
5. Find a Way to Organize Lesson Plans & All Materials Needed
Whether you choose handwritten lesson plans or digital, choose a way to not only organize your lesson plans but also all of the materials/copies needed to teach them. You can use a bin for each day of the week or maybe even a pocket chart. Each day should have all materials and copies needed for that day. If you use digital lesson plans, you could even print out your lesson plans for each day and put them in with the materials and copies. This will make life a lot easier if you have a have a sub.
6. Have a Sub Binder or Sub Tub
Speaking of having a sub, at the beginning of the school year, make a copy of your schedule, student roster, student transportation, and other daily documents that a sub may need. I have a free template for some of these documents here! Put these in a binder or tub along with some read-aloud books, copies, and games that students can complete independently. Sometimes subs aren’t sure how to teach certain concepts, or they do not have access to do so, so choose things that have already been taught (if it’s the beginning of the year, pull some things from the previous grade level). A good rule of thumb is to have at least two days worth of plans for a sub. If you get sick and need to be out a couple of days, this will save you the trouble of doing sub plans while not feeling 100%.
I could go on and on about tips for new teachers, but you know that would get just as overwhelming as a lot of other things are for them. The most important thing for year 1 and 2 is just survive. Hopefully some of these things will be the flotation device that helps keep your head above water!
Looking for more tips for new teachers to help get you organized and set up for success? Check out these resources below!