So here's the continuation of the new teacher tips that I started last week. I actually wrote all ten tips at the same time, but the post got super long really fast and I decided to split it in half. Here are tips 6-10 that I wish I could go back and give myself when I was a first year teacher.
Tip #6: Do Something Nice for Yourself, too!
Tip #7: Get Organized in Your Personal LifeNo one is going to take care of you if you don't take care of yourself. Start building routines now that help take care of you physically and mentally so you are happy and healthy all year long.
If possible, dedicate a time each weekend to prep for the coming week. During the year, I make breakfasts, snacks, and lunches for the entire week on Sunday afternoon and stack them in the fridge or freezer. That way, I'm ready with healthy choices even if I oversleep.
Like meals, find a dedicated time and stick with it, either before or after school. Make it part of your routine now so its automatic when things get crazy during parent conferences or report card time.
Find one hour a week to dedicated to yourself. Take a hot bath, apply a mud mask, meditate, go for a walk by yourself, journal, or do something else that is just for you.
Don't neglect the people in your life because you are busy at work! During the school year, my husband and I have a standing date night every Friday night and I make sure to see my girlfriends for dinner on Saturday or brunch on Sunday. Good relationships feed your soul and are worth investing in.
Tip #8: Get Organized in Your ClassroomNext Year
When you are a new teacher, next year is probably the last thing on your mind, but it shouldn't be! Take a little extra time each day to make sure that you are creating resources that you can use again. Save those bell work questions you typed up in a computer folder so you can find them again. Put a good overhead transparency in your filing cabinet. Keep a notebook and take notes on what worked and what didn't so that you can review it when planning this lesson again next year.
Routines and Practice
Know what you want your students to do and be consistent! Take a few minutes with each class each day during the first few weeks of school to review your expectations and practice student routines. If you want them to get out certain supplies or leave their backpacks somewhere specific at the beginning of each class, you have to reinforce it now or you'll be telling them all year!
Make sure to hold a supply check for a small quiz grade, and make sure you find out WHY a student doesn't have the notebook you asked them to get. "I forgot" or "We haven't had time to go to the store" are very different situations than a student who's family honestly can't afford school supplies. Make sure to check to see what your school has in place for these students and consider asking for extra school supplies if you send home a donation list.
Tip #9: Pinterest is EvilSeriously, it's not reality. No real teacher is ever actually going to have everything in the classroom color coded or themed, never mind changing their bulletin boards every day. And there's nothing worse than "Today's Update"... from three months ago. Be realistic about how much time and energy you are willing to dedicated to extraneous stuff like elaborate bulletin boards. The kids aren't going to remember them, anyways, and it's not a competition, especially your first year.
Here's all the bulletin boards you really need at a minimum time investment: one where you hang pre-made or teacher made posters about what you are studying, one for displaying student work, a brag board where you put up extraordinary work or post who did well on assignments or tests, and a word wall with vocabulary.
Tip #10: Give Yourself Time to LearnYou may have people telling you "It gets easier" as you begin your first year of teaching. No, it doesn't. No matter how long you do this, teaching is an intense job full of organization, multitasking, and extreme expectations. It doesn't get easier. But YOU will get BETTER. Hang in there, keep your head up, and get to know a student today. They are the reason why it's all worth it.
What would you like to be able to go back and tell your past self when you started your first job? Let me know in the comments below!