20 Tips For New Teachers
There can only be one reason why you’re here, you are looking for tips for new teachers. Okay, maybe there could be more. But most likely, you are gearing up for your first big teaching job and you just want everything to be perfect, right?
You don’t want to screw anything up, and you are bound and determined to impress your principal and the rest of your school’s staff. You want to make friends with your peers and earn the instant respect of your students, right?
Sure… it’ll all go exactly as planned.
Are you laughing too? Good!
Now, while it’s not funny to be nervous or concerned about your performance as a new teacher, it is okay to have a laugh—especially if you’re going into teaching!
Every experienced educator can tell you that one of the first things you learn is that you never know what you’re in for on any given day. That’s why it’s a good thing you’re here, and we’re excited to talk to you about what you can do to prevent mishaps, create efficiencies, and work smarter as a new teacher.
Many of these tips can be relevant throughout your entire career. So, even if you’re an experienced teacher, you might want review the list as well – and provide us any helpful insights we can add to our list.
Before we get too far—a word to those of you who are just thinking about going into teaching…
Many people, from all walks of life and with all types of different experience, decide that becoming a teacher makes sense. So regardless of your history, if you’re thinking about being an educator, the first big tip we have for you is this:
Finding the right education degree program can lead you to your desired teaching career outcome.
In addition to helpful advice for first year teachers, information and resources for prospective teachers, at EducationDegree.com, we also have relationships with schools across the United States that offer campus-based and online degrees in education. You can easily use our search methods to locate schools, or browse around for other resources and advice for new educators on our site.
We are here to help you move closer to a successful start to your teaching career.
So, without any further ado…
Here Are Our Tips For New Teachers
Alright, take a deep breath, and just remember: You’re human, and we all make mistakes. That said, review these tips for first year teachers carefully. We researched top education organizations, media outlets, and found first-hand accounts of how teachers try to make things a lot easier for themselves, and for their students.
1.) Plan for the year.
Sounds simple, right? You would be surprised at how easy it can be to get caught up in the day-to-day challenges of teaching, and lose track of your long-term goals with your students.
That’s why you should start mapping out your game plan for goal setting in August while you’re still enjoying the last few weeks of summer break. Give yourself time to assess goals every week or two, and look at your master list of school year goals then. This is no different than a business owner looking at their goals for revenue and growth quarterly. If you’re not assessing progress on a regular interval, how can you know if you’re truly an effective teacher?
2.) Be positive.
Believe us when we say we know how hard teaching can be! We spend our time focused on helping students find teaching degree programs, and providing tips for new teachers.
But we also know how important it is for teachers to stay positive to remain an inspiration to their students. Your students will also perform better when they are encouraged, and learn to recognize their strengths if you focus on them too, while still improving their weaker areas. You will be the main contributor to their self-esteem while they learn outside of their homes.
Don’t take that responsibility lightly. Their futures depend on your kindness and encouragement.
3.) Learn to balance your monitoring and direct teaching methods.
Your students will respond to different methods of learning, and they will need to learn how to work independently, in groups, one-on-one with you, and in other environments. When you design your monthly and year-long curriculum strategies, think about how you will mix it up, in regards to your teaching methods and styles. This advice for first year teachers will help keep your students’ minds fresh, and will help develop their ability to work and learn in various ways.
4.) Practice sound classroom management skills.
It can be easy to get frustrated, or let your inner child out; especially when managing a classroom of children. No matter how grown and ‘adult’ we become, simple stress can make us stoop to a toddler’s level.
However, we cannot stress enough how important classroom management is!
So, do whatever it takes—write out your own 10 Commandments, or a list of sayings that remind you how to act towards your students in times of stress. Find ways to remind yourself that you are the adult in the room. Implement meditation, for yourself and your students. Just remember, that no matter how hard it may be sometimes to be an adult, you have to act like it in your classroom.
5.) Tap into your peers for knowledge and insight.
The next time you are working lunch room duty or have time to interact with fellow teachers, make the most of it. Ask questions, share strategies and open up!
These educators are in the same place you are and are trying just as hard to help themselves and their students as you are. This takes a strong support system among faculty and staff to remain good role models and effective educators.
One of the best tips for beginning teachers: Communicate with faculty and participate in your school events to help out as much as you can. Schools need teachers for more than just their classroom skills. It can only benefit your career as well, and will give you insight into how your peers manage teaching!
6.) Address misbehavior as quickly and appropriately as possible.
The last thing you want to do is try to be the ‘cool’ teacher and let inappropriate behavior slide. This is one of the most critical tips for first year teachers.
It sets a bad precedent and only prolongs the behavior until it escalates too far. If that happens, then your principal will likely hold you accountable for not acknowledging and fixing the problem—not to mention what it does to classroom management. That’s why you should be diligent about solving classroom behavior problems as quickly as possible. You also need to make sure to apply the most appropriate solution. That’s why it’s important to understand the standards and preferred methods for discipline at your school.
7.) Lighten up.
Another essential piece of advice for new educators: Even if you aren’t a natural clown or comedian, you can still make learning enjoyable for your students, without completely losing your dignity.
Try to find ways to make learning interactive and engaging for them. Why not turn a history lesson into a competitive game of Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune? When students forget they are learning because they are having fun, it’s a win for everyone.
8.) Set clear expectations with each assignment.
Make sure you review the goals of each new area of your curriculum and for each new assignment. When students have a direction to point their mind’s compass, they can go into the lesson with a clear idea of how they should approach or absorb the information.
This will also help students take good notes and start thinking conceptually about the topic as soon as you begin your teaching. Sometimes the best advice for first year teachers can be a simple as setting clear expectations!
9.) Set rules for the classroom.
This can be effective for elementary, middle and high school students—especially if you set expectations early. When it comes to classroom rules, remember to keep them simple, and try to have fun with them.
Kids are used to being told what to do, and have a tendency to roll their eyes when adults go overboard with the lectures. If you can think of ways to incentivize good behavior, then do it. Positive reinforcement is always better than dangling punishment over them to maintain law and order in the classroom. This piece of advice for first year teachers can save you lots of headaches!
10.) Acknowledge every student the first time you see them every day.
Yes, you read that right. Every student. Every day.
It’s easy to let some students blend into the crowd when you have your hands full. But don’t let the quiet ones pass you by. Say hello to all of your students every day, so they know you are thinking about them and feel comfortable talking to you. This is one of those tips for beginning teachers that will last a lifetime for your students. You see them even more than their parents do many days of the week, so it’s critical they trust you and feel seen by you. Teachers and students can form bonds through constant positive communication.
From the first day of school to the last, let them know you’re there.
11.) Be caring and empathetic.
No matter what age group you are teaching, students are going through mental growth that can be challenging and frustrating. Be sure to put yourself in their place when you approach your students, while you teach them, and especially if you must discipline them. They are counting on you to help them learn critical thinking skills, as well as interpersonal skills. When you show a child that you care about them and spend time understanding where they are coming from, then you will earn their respect. It will also help build trust, so they know they can come to you for help and mentorship, when they need it.
12.) Create a plan for parents.
This might be one of the hardest tips for first year teachers to execute – but absolutely necessary. Parents are sometimes the elephant in the room when it comes to effectively teaching children. You have hands-on parents and those you may only see at required meeting times.
Make sure you have a plan of action for how you will manage the parents. This is key not only when discipline issues arise, but during regular communication as well. You should set the processes and boundaries from the beginning. Think about it—for every student, you typically have two parents to work with. It may not be as challenging as teaching a class of students, but it can get tough if you aren’t efficient with your time and lead the relationship.
13.) Teach respect and stress anti-bullying.
Remember when we said you should take care of discipline issues as soon as they arise to keep them from spiraling out of control? This advice for new educators takes that philosophy one step further. With so much time spent interacting with video games compared to humans, today’s young learners need to practice mutual respect with their peers and teachers on a daily basis.
Create exercises that reward diversity and show the ill effects of treating others unfairly. This will help create a culture of respect in your classroom, and help your students learn their own lessons in being empathetic towards others.
14.) Allow free learning time, and free time in general.
It’s easy to think that you have to keep kids busy, busy, busy—accounting for each minute of every day. While this philosophy can aid in goal achievement and keep challenging behaviors at bay, it is also stagnating. Give your students a mental break from the routine so they can do something constructive and new. This can be five minutes a day, a half hour each week, a weekly group exercise, or ten minutes of independent journaling once a week.
The point of the assignment would be to give students time to explore their own minds, interests and curiosities. These breaks can also be a great introduction to freeform discussions about current events, creativity, or anything meaningful that your students want to reflect on.
15.) Look for continuing education opportunities.
Even though you already have your degree and you’re working 24/7 – or at least, it feels like it – you should keep your ear to the ground in the world of academia. Make sure you join all the relevant teaching organizations, both national and local, that you can find to stay in tune with what’s going on.
Education is so connected to our political system that teachers are often engaged and organized to protect their occupational interests. You can also find workshops and educational opportunities through these organizations.
Our advice for first year teachers: Do everything you can to connect and network right away!
16.) Take your professional goals seriously.
When you meet with your principal and other administrators to discuss your job, be sure to discuss your own professional goals. These can be as simple as earning a master’s degree in education, teaching a particular subject, or starting a new club for the students. It will make your principal happy to hear you are committed to your career in education and demonstrates that you want to improve your skillset.
Be sure to ask if they see any strengths you could turn into opportunities to help out more or reach a new goal in teaching.
17.) Try to include technology in your lessons.
Let’s face it, students love technology. And who can blame them? We’ve been dreaming of having all these cool toys since we were kids – so hurry up with our hoverboards already, please! But seriously…
If you can find cool ways to show kids how they can learn to code, or use their artistic skills on the computer, they will be more apt to develop the kinds of versatile skillsets that will be required more and more as we continue to see technology expand.
18.) Plan field trips.
Do you remember finding yourself at home during Winter break with serious cabin fever? Imagine being a child stuck in a classroom for eight hours a day, five days a week. Kids are constantly being told what to do while trying to figure out what the heck is going on in this crazy world. Yeah, it’s pretty overwhelming for those students sometimes.
So get them out of the classroom and show them what the real world is actually like. Take them to plays, museums, sporting events and other activities that reflect the curriculum you’re teaching. They’ll love the opportunity to get out and do something different – and so will you!
19.) Be mindful about sensitive topics.
You have to remember that children come from all walks of life and face many
different challenges. Be sensitive and conscious of anything you might say that could alienate them or make them uncomfortable. This is another one of those tips for new teachers that will make a lasting impact in your students’ lives.
That doesn’t mean you can just avoid discussing topics that aren’t relevant to your curriculum. You just have to do it in a way that is inclusive and objective. You don’t want to accidentally make any student feel economically or socially inferior to you or anyone else in the class. When you complete your education degree program, you should look for courses that help you develop strong skills in this area. You will need to apply this same tip to working with parents as well.
20.) Go into it for the right reasons.
Since teaching is such an important, influential role in students’ lives, you really need to go into this profession to change lives and inspire students. Teachers can make a fine living, but very few go into it to get rich. Become a teacher because you want to help kids reach their potential and believe in themselves. If you do that, then all you need is the right teaching degree to meet your state requirements to get going.
Do you have some helpful tips for first year teachers who want to be effective leaders and mentors?
If you have additional ideas, experiences or insight that we can share with prospective educators – let us know! We want to hear from you and encourage others to become great teachers.
Do you need to earn your degree, or pursue a graduate level education? We can help you there too! Just use the search functions on this page to narrow your options.