Thanks to my tech-savvy friend, Claire Thweatt for this BEAUTIFUL overhaul on my website! She's GREAT! Oh, and she is also a 21st century technology teacher, who happens to sell on TpT. Check her out at ThweattHearts!
Ah. I love the beginning of the school year. Everything is nice, new, and clean. Paper is smooth, pencils are sharp, and teachers are energized. However, after that first week, I know you're all dragging yourselves home ... sometimes by way of Starbucks.
Let me send out my top ten Rookie Teacher Mistakes, so you can avoid doing them!
*This is my "preaching-to-myself" moment.
If you're a first year teacher, I'm going to tell you the best piece of advice I had ever heard before my first day of teaching. "You've got this. Live and learn. Be a student of your students." (Thanks Ms. Keckley)
Basically, we all have to learn WHO we are teaching. We need to know where they are coming from. Kids are not all the same. They each have different family, economic, and personal experiences that shape who they are, and what they respond to. Learn their names ... all of them. Then, get to know the kid. This seems like such a "Duh" thing, but I've known several educators who didn't learn the kids' names until 2-3 months into the school year. I believe it hurt the teacher's potential with those kids.
-Make your room YOUR ROOM.
I understand that there are restrictions to several teachers. I know that my district expect for less than 50% of our walls to be covered at any point. I'm grateful for my principal at the time who didn't enforce this expectation. He let the teachers actually teach.
So, with restrictions, we can't all do the same things. Take time to be frustrated, but then get over it. Focus on what you CAN do. Isn't that what we tell our kids?
Your classroom will be where you spend most of your waking ours during the school year. Make it comfortable for you. Decorate it for your comfort. This will make the room more inviting to your kids as well as show them more of who you are :)
-Don't spend tons of money.
I know, I just told you to make your room YOUR ROOM. However, don't break the bank to make it look like what you see on Instagram or Pinterest. If you are a newer teacher looking at a veteran teacher's room ... you're going to feel intimidated by their awesomeness. However, I would tell you ... don't compare your chapter one to someone else's chapter twelve. You'll get there ... trust me.
-Set your goals.
Not goals for your kids, although that is an important expectation. No, set a goal for your school year. I set goals every year. One year, my goal was to leave before 4:30pm everyday (unless there was a faculty meeting). Another year, my goal was to not work during lunch (unless there was an IEP, PM, or other random meeting). Doing this helped me complete my work, but not get too burned out.
-Don't stay late.
Wait, wait, wait. I know. "But, I have .... to do!" There will NEVER be enough time. There, I said it. You will always have more that you can do. You will always find something more to accomplish. You think about how many other humans during the day? Right. What do you tell your kids the night before a big test? Rest. Each day is a test of our endurance, but if we aren't taking care of ourselves, we aren't going to measure up.
Teachers are on their feet almost the WHOLE day. You would think we'd be the skinniest people in the world. If you know me, I am not. Why? Because I eat junky food. Why? Easy access, cheap, and little effort is needed. However, this will make your days feel longer. Did you know that your body craves fat more if you eat junk food? It's basically MSG. If you have a fridge in your room, keep some yogurt, hummus, fruit, raw veggies, and cheese slices in there. Quick, easy, and it won't make you feel sluggish.
I don't care who you are ... if you don't have plan on the front end on how behavior is going to be handled in your room, it will destroy you. Science has proven that kids need structure. Be kind. Give them structure. I was the teacher that many other teachers would send their behavior kids to (I know, I was THAT teacher.) However, I only yelled 3 times in 8 years. Once was at a kid who tried to throw a chair at another kid, another time was when a kid decided to see if he could fly by jumping off the top of a slide (he couldn't PS), and the last time was when a boy was yelling so loudly that I couldn't be heard. Other then those moments ... nope. In my experience, the quieter I was, the more dangerous I seemed. I taught 4th grade at one point where most of my students were taller than I was. However, nothing brought a kid back to earth from crazy-town than a small woman whispering how she would destroy your day at school if you didn't "get it together." These are also the kids that email me now that they aren't in my room. They tell me time and again how much they loved me as a teacher. They tell me all the good things that happened. A few times they'll say, "remember the time I tried to .... and you .....?" Yes, Sebastian ... I remember. They don't know the many nights I went home exhausted, and crying. I thought they'd hate me forever. I thought they'd label me the "worst teacher ever." Nope. Not if you do it right. Remember ... I didn't yell. I showed endurance. You want to cry? Go for it. I'll even let you stand over there until you're done. Don't want to do the work during the day? No worries. I know your parents. They are MORE than happy to let me help you until you finish ... even if it isn't until 9pm (yep, that happened.)
Set your expectations and BE consistent!
-Get to know the parents.
I was the BEST hypothetical parent. THEN, I became a parent. All you mommas out there understand. We have a view on kids that all of their problems in class go back to their parents. Let me just say, that CAN be true, but DON'T assume it is. Get to know the parents. Talk to them about what they do in their house when 'johnny' doesn't obey/finish work/etc. Ask them how they would deal with any situations that comes up at school. Ask them what THEY expect of YOU when their kid doesn't meet expectations. While we are professional educators, parents are professionals of their kids. They know them. Ask them about their kids. Also, ask the parents about their lives ... not the kids' lives, but the parents' lives. What's going on? GET. TO. KNOW. THEM. It makes all the difference in the world.
-Get to know your team/faculty.
This is such a HUGE aspect that educators seem to forget. These people are all here with the same intentions that you have ... help mold these kids to be the best they can be and catch the vision for their futures. No, you probably was be best friends with everyone, but do not judge them. Their experiences will be different than yours. They will do things differently. Don't judge. If they are there, you better believe they are in it for the kids. NOW, before you say, "you don't know ....." Yes, yes, I do. I'm not talking about the "exception" teachers ... I'm talking about the "rule" teachers. Those who you don't agree with, just avoid, and move on. Be professional. Make friends. Have fun!
-Give Yourself Grace
You will be awesome. You will fail. Do what you tell your kids when they don't succeed. "Tomorrow's another day." "You haven't gotten it ... yet." Practice what you preach. You need grace. We aren't perfect, nor should we pretend to be. Our kids need to know that we aren't flawless. They also need to see us keep trying. You will have days where you go home feeling like you've been hit by a mack truck. You will want to cry some days. You will question your calling...
But, then, there are moments ... these unassuming moments ... the brilliantly, beautiful moments. That moment a light bulb comes on and shines through a student's eyes. That moment when that child who feels like the reason your career may end, hugs you, or smiles at you from across the playground. That moment when a kid accidentally calls you "mom" because they just feel so comfortable. That moment of pride when a struggle becomes a success. That moment ...
They come. Give yourself grace... for those moments.
When the day ends, these may not be your top ten, but they are mine ... for now. Keep an eye out for some new resources for classroom behavior and management!
Love you all!