I have now been teaching for more than 10 years, across 3 different curriculums and in 3 different countries. My first 2-3 years of teaching came and went so quickly that they blur together into one.
Now I am lucky enough to lead professional learning all around the world with a variety of educators. Beginning teachers all over the world experience the same stresses, beliefs, and ideas.
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After over 10 years of thinking about this, here is my list of 10 things that I wish I had known in my first year of teaching. This list is designed to spark a conversation, support new teachers and provide ideas on how experienced educators can help those new to the profession.
- Twitter – the best FREE professional development tool there is – I have only been on Twitter for the last 3-4 years and what I learn there blows my mind! You SHOULD sign up – I am happy to help you …. Start here: http://mrkempnz.com/2014/09/10-steps-to-creating-the-perfect-educational-twitter-account.html
- Remember to sleep – I got so exhausted staying up all night planning – it made my teaching worse as a result and I got sick. Take time to relax, get enough sleep every night and don’t stress!
- Pace yourself – slow down, don’t put your hand up to do everything, do what you can to make a difference. In my first year, I thought I needed to be seen to be proactive and I put my hand up to do everything and help everyone, but this exhausted my energy. Prioritize what you offer to do! Pick one or two things.
- One focus a term – Focus on a single part of your teaching or one new thing to bring into your classroom – don’t do everything straight away – you are not a miracle worker! Everyone start’s somewhere.
- Ask for help – I wish I had asked more people for help – I felt silly and thought that they would look down on me – if you need help ask, no question is a silly question. Now, as an experienced teacher, my door (or email) is always open to provide help and support.
- Get parent’s on board straight away – they will make your life easier – email them weekly, post on a blog, share photos of what is happening in your classroom, be positive and smile. If there is a problem tell them straight away.
- Work / life balance – have a life – school is not everything – make sure you do something every day for yourself. Don’t forget your family and friends. They are the people who matter!
- Failures are OK – learn from them, as they are your First Attempt In Learning. Everyone makes mistakes and it is important for the children to see you are human – it is how you change and learn from your mistakes that matters. Embrace mistakes, don’t hide them away!
- Be yourself – don’t be someone else, don’t ‘baby’ things up, don’t hide who you are – be yourself and your student’s will relax and be themselves too – you will have a more enjoyable year ahead.
- Build a Rapport with Students – Truly getting to know your students is key! Build a rapport and get to know who they are both in school and out of school. Ask questions, be friendly, learn about how they learn and what excites them about life. Weave these into your teaching program!
What do you wish you knew as a new teacher? Please feel free to share them here or via Twitter.