I still remember the day when I entered a classroom to teach my first lesson and saw it filled with enthusiastic and eager students. I was a new teacher and it was my first day. For few days, I was shaky and also a bit apprehensive before connecting with my class. But after that initial phase, I got over my fears of failing and started enjoying my teaching moments. Although I had researched and prepared well, there were certain things I wish I knew beforehand.
Today, it makes me a little uncomfortable when I see new teachers dropping out within 5th year of their job. Therefore, to make things a bit easy, here I have chalked down certain facts that a new teacher should keep handy along with her lesson plan during the initial days of her teaching career. Do check them out, particularly if you are a new teacher.
Things to know for a new teachers
1. Connecting is the key
Remember, connecting with your students is the most dynamic thing for a teacher. The more you learn about your students the more they will learn about your content. Certain simple gestures like asking their name, hobbies or just a simple smile as you enter counts a lot in the long run. Being a new teacher, you can even plan a great ice-breaking session for those new faces. I am sure you want to make a great impression. Ice-breaking activities will help you do so.
2. Tread mindfully with little kids
Try to be mindful while handling little kids. Always remember that there is a fine line of difference between being instructional and punishing. Do understand where to draw your lines of being supportive without being over friendly. Try to create a fixed routine with your students and be proactive with them to form an engaging environment the classroom.
3. Observation is a good habit
Find time during your off period to observe other classrooms in your school building. Even if the content and/or age groups are different, there is still a lot you can learn via simple observation. Discuss with your colleagues and fellow teachers about what you saw in their classroom. Even better, invite them to observe you while delivering a lesson and get feedback/input on what they saw in your classroom. Join Teacher School Learning community to get necessary information regarding current teaching strategies and other facts from fellow teachers.
4. Panicking is not a good idea
Don’t be afraid of to accept what you don’t know and aren’t sure about. There may be some questions asked by students whose answer you don’t know. Just note it down and work on them during your off-period. Try to take things on your stride and accept that you are going to make mistakes. The key to persistence is to make sure that you learn from those mistakes. When you teach your kids it is ok to make mistakes, it opens the door towards gaining more knowledge. Watch these inspirational TED talks when you feel really low on certain days.
5. You are the leader
The more you get to know your class, more you expect from them. Sometimes switch to conducting healthy classroom discussions and competitions within your class. Act like a coach of a team and keep your kids motivated to uplift their performance along with your career growth.
6. Humor comes very handy
Undoubtedly, humor in classroom can always help to diffuse a tense situation. Serious classes are not always welcomed by the students. They tend to find it tedious and dreary. So add a bit of humor in your lesson plan wherever possible. It will not only help break the monotony in the class but will make them more interesting and lively.
7. You need to have a brave front
Try not to show up in your class with a timid look. Also, never acknowledge your inexperience before your students. Knowing that you are a newcomer, they may simply try to tease you by badgering you with questions, or by underestimating you by taking it casually. So, never ever let your students know that you are new in the game.
8. Keep your tools handy
Try to be technically erudite as much as possible. In today’s teaching career, the better you are in handling your classroom projectors, speakers and pointers, the lesser fidgety you will be in your moves. Also, being technically prudent would help you build a really good rapport with your students as the children love to maintain the phrase “Like teacher, like student”.
9. Speak your mind even if the voice shakes
As I mentioned earlier, my voice was shaky in the beginning. But gradually the more comfortable I became with the class, more confident was my choice of words with them. So always avoid being petrified to speak up and share an idea. Bringing a new perspective and a fresh set of lenses to the table while sharing your thoughts is something you need to master on within few days.
10. Be cordial with everyone
I know you will try to be cordial with your peers and management to create a good rapport with them. But meanwhile don’t avoid the non-academic staff in the school. Learn their names and show utmost respect to every administrative assistant, custodian/maintenance and food service employee in your school building. They will help you more than you can even imagine! Trust me on this.
11. Say ‘no’ to staff-room politics
Try to stay away from “staff-room” politics. This may create negative influence in your image as a new-comer. Be sure to keep your image clean and professional. Politics, being the primary source of stress, shall lead you nowhere fruitful. Therefore, adding a juicy gossip to your cleverly balanced diet is a strict no-no especially during your initial days as a teacher.
12. Be social, but be careful with social media
Today more than parties and get-togethers, people know each other through social media. So, be careful about what are you posting in your Facebook or Twitter page. It is even better if you have two separate accounts for personal and professional sharing of thoughts through social media. Don’t ditch social media totally. Rather use social media as an effective tool in teaching.
Teaching is a profession that builds all other professions. Hence, it is evident that handling this job becomes hard-hitting for many. But if you have faith in yourself and are ready to put your best foot forward, there is nothing impossible in achieving your career goals.
So, if you are a new teacher in school, do share your thoughts and experience with us in the comments section below. We would be more than happy to help you. We would also ask veteran teachers to share their experiences and discuss tips and suggestions that will help the upcoming crop of new teachers.