My very first year teaching, was a year of surprises, lots of learning and improvising. I had 34 kids in a 3/4 split that quickly turned into a straight 4th grade. The school was in a very poor, rough area of Los Angeles. I was in a mobile all alone at the furthest end of the school with no classroom phone (this was before cell phones). The teachers at the school were reserved and not exactly welcoming to a young teacher at first. I realized later, the teachers had stacked the class I was given as were regretting that just a bit. Oops.
About 2 weeks into school, I had assigned some reading to the class and they were to get busy while I started working with a small group of struggling readers. Within the first minute of that assignment I had a student pick up his desk, throw it and shout, "I'm NOT going to do this!" To say I wasn't prepared for this would be an understatement. I stood in shock for what seemed like an eternity but was probably only seconds. Truly, I still remember it. Time just seemed to slow down to a crawl.
When I finally managed to pull myself together, I quickly checked to see no one was hurt and then sent another student to get the principal. I think my words were, "RUN. Get Mr. S in the office. Tell them it's an emergency!" The principal took it seriously and was there escorting the offender to the office in minutes.
It turned out, my desk throwing friend could barely read and no teacher had ever known it. But, the kids all knew. They were the ones who informed me once he's left the room. He turned out to be one of my favorite students by the end of the year.
It just goes to show, you NEVER know what the day holds until it's done. While we can prepare for a lot of things, we have to be nimble, flexible and ready to improvise when the unexpected happens. So, here's my advice (10 Tips) so you too will be able to handle all the crazy things teaching will throw at you this year and for years to come.
Pray for your students and yourself. This is my lifeline.
Your mentor can be in your school, another school or even online. In addition, find a good online community of teachers to support you. Teacher have the most creative solutions to just about everything.
Transitions are tricky for lots of students. Have a set of chants or songs that teach and are still fun. These will make a great transition to each subject while sneaking in a little review. They can be short and to the point, but they set both a tone and help cue students' brains to prepare for what's next as they make the transition.
Teach your students a few quiet games or challenges you can do as a class in the hallway or while waiting for assemblies or speakers to start.
Don't be afraid to not know something - ask. Ask all the "dumb" questions - someone else is probably wondering and was too scared to ask. Ask for help when you need it. Ask for prayers or a hug when you need it.
Take time at the end of each day or at the end of each week to reflect on your teaching - what went right and what you want to change. Put your reflection time on your calendar and make it a date you keep with yourself. You'll grow exponentially as a teacher.
Getting and staying organized helps a TON in freeing you up to plan and teach the lessons your students need. Create systems for all of your paper - homework, classroom, grading, filing... If you don't you'll get buried. We'll have to come dig you out at the end of the year. ;)
Teaching should be fun both for you and for your students. That doesn't mean you have to do crazy things or redecorate your classroom every month. It just means your lessons should be interesting and enjoyable. If you aren't excited about it, for certain, your students won't be either.
You MUST take time off daily and weekly. It took me years to learn how to leave work at work so I could go home and have a mental and physical break from school. Once I started doing that, I quit feeling exhausted and burnt out by December. Teacher burnout is real. Take care of YOU.
Classroom management is the backbone that everything else in your classroom relies on in order to function smoothly. Get your classroom management system down! Keep it simple. Don't be afraid to regroup and change what isn't working. Be consistent and caring AND keep firm boundaries. I do a lot of work as a teacher success coach and classroom management is the biggest stumbling block for so many teachers.
If you need help, join me in my facebook group. You can ask all your questions there and get the answers you need to be confident and successful.
Every teacher wants their students to become committed readers. Here's a simple "how to" cheat sheet you can provide to help PARENTS support their kids in their reading journey. I call it the Sneaky Parent's Guide to Growing Readers because it's filled with loving, savvy tips to make reading feel fun and desirable.