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The Other Side of the Desk: 7 Tips for New Teachers


If you’re wrapping up your formal education and are heading off to a new job as an educator this fall, you’re probably feeling nervous and excited. Those feelings will give you the energy to help you get your career off to a great start. The summer is the perfect time to start preparing for the fall. The tips below will help you make the most of your first year on the other side of the desk.

  • Getting Ready Over Summer: You’re probably anxious to start preparing for your first year as a teacher and you can get a lot done over summer. It’s tempting to start planning lessons, but you may find reality requires you to reschedule everything. Spend summer focusing on fixed commodities like classroom decorations and mapping out general ideas for lessons rather than detailed specifics.
  • What to Expect on the First Day: For many students and new teachers alike, the first day of school is scary. The key for new teachers is to turn that anxiety into excitement. Prepare for the big day with positive visualizations. Imagine yourself capturing the attention of excited students and beaming with positive energy and you’ll feel more comfortable on day one.
  • Handling Problem Students: You’ve learned lots of techniques for handling misbehavior, but you haven’t prepared for the psychological toll problem students can take on you. You have to remember not to take it personally when students break the rules, even if it seems like they’re doing it to spite you. Remember, poor student behavior isn’t a reflection on you–it’s part of the job.
  • Dealing with the Grind: For many, the hardest part of teaching is avoiding feeling burnt out. Especially in your first year, you’ll be working hard to stay ahead of the class. Avoid wearing yourself too thin and don’t demand perfection. You’re learning your craft; mistakes are inevitable and give yourself a break.
  • Your First Parent-Teacher Conferences: Depending on your school, parent-teacher conferences could be invigorating or demoralizing. Parents may blow you away with their dedication to helping your students learn, or they may not. Think of these conferences as a learning opportunity. You’ll get a better sense of who your students are and why they behave as they do. Don’t take parental constructive criticism too seriously in your first year.
  • Interacting with Supervisors: One of the trickier problems for new teachers, especially young new teachers, is interacting with superiors. While you will want to defer to their higher rank and wealth of experience, don’t be afraid to be assertive. If you believe you’ve got the right answer to a problem, speak up even as a rookie. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Maintaining a Professional Support Network: Just because you’re done with your formal education doesn’t mean you should cut ties with your fellow education students and professors. They’ll be valuable assets when you run into an unexpected problem on the job or if you need some fresh perspective after a tough day.

The most important advice of all is this: do everything you can to be the best teacher you can be, but don’t punish yourself for mistakes. You got hired because you are a promising young teacher, not because you are perfect.

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