10 Helpful Tips for Your First Year of Teaching

It’s back to school time and teachers all over the country are gearing up to start the year with a new set of kids.

For many, this is their very first teaching job.

If that’s you, I first want to take a second to say, “Congratulations!”

You’ve entered into a beautiful profession where you can impact the lives of both your students and their families.

You may be feeling overwhelmed by the amount of responsibility resting on your shoulders but fear not!

As you find your footing as a teacher, you’ll start to get more comfortable in your new position. Your seemingly never-ending to-do list will become more manageable.

But in the meantime, I’ve compiled my top 10 New Teacher Tips to help you get through your first year.

Veteran teachers: if you think of any additional tips, be sure to leave me a note in the comments below!

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New Teacher Tip #1

New Teacher Tip #1

Set high expectations for yourself.

But don’t expect to hit them all in your first year of teaching.

When I graduated with my teaching degree, I hoped to be as awesome as my mentor teacher.

Smart, witty, calm, cool and collected.

But I quickly learned that that level of confidence comes with experience.

I’m entering my 8th year of teaching. It’ll be my 5th in the same grade level — same classroom, in fact. 

It’s easy for me to look back and see just how true this is.

My husband, who is also a teacher, pointed out that you’ll struggle the most in your first year of teaching. But hey, that means you can only get better.

So set that bar high but don’t beat yourself up if you’re not at that level — yet.

New Teacher Tip #2

New Teacher Tip #2

Ask questions.

But don’t think you need to have all the answers RIGHT NOW.

As a new teacher, you’ll quickly find out how little you know.

I know that my four years of college didn’t prepare me enough for the rigor of teaching. 

In your first year, you’ll be pummeled by acronyms, procedures, and teacher jargon.

You’ll have lots of questions — and you should definitely ask them! It’s good to be assertive and speak up if you’re not sure about something.

But remind yourself that you don’t necessarily need the answer to every one of your questions right away.

Write them down and make sure you get the answer at some point. Sometimes you might even find the answer yourself 🙂

New Teacher Tip #3

New Teacher Tip #3

Get to know your students.

But don’t think you need to be their best friend.

It’s so important to build a good rapport with your students. Especially right at the start of the school year.

But be careful not to mix up a good rapport with friendship.

Your students don’t need another friend. They have plenty of those.

They need you to be a stable, trustworthy, loving teacher. One who firmly maintains a safe classroom environment while genuinely caring for them.

Being too friendly with your students will actually hurt your behavior management and their learning will suffer as a result.

New Teacher Tip #4

New Teacher Tip #4

Expect to bring work home.

But don’t sacrifice your self-care for school work.

Teaching is an endless job. There are papers to organize, tests to grade, worksheets to create, and emails to send.

So expect to bring a lot of that work home. Especially in your first year of teaching.

But none of those things should take the priority over your self-care.

Don’t allow school work to keep you from tending to your own health (physical or emotional). 

Remember, you can’t pour into the lives of your students if your own reserves are empty.

New Teacher Tip #5

New Teacher Tip #5

Seek ways to be a team player.

But don’t bite off more than you can chew.

I have been so blessed to work with two awesome grade-level teams throughout my career!

It makes a world of difference to have coworkers who collaborate, support, and share the work with you.

As a new teacher, you’re going to need a lot of help. 

But it’s important to also jump at opportunities where you can help out as well. 

However, be careful not to bite off more than you can chew.

Doing so will just create more work for the teammates.

New Teacher Tip #6

New Teacher Tip #6

Enjoy buying cute things for your classroom.

But don’t go overboard spending your whole paycheck on decorations.

I LOVE to spend time perusing through the Target Dollar Section.

But it’s important to avoid the “buy first, think of a purpose later” mentality.

Buying with purpose in mind will help you to save money in the long run.

Work smarter, not harder

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New Teacher Tip #7

New Teacher Tip #7

Communicate with parents.

But don’t allow it to stress you out.

Good communication with parents is vital to the success of your students. 

I know that as a new teacher, it can be scary to make those calls home. Especially if you need to discuss academic or behavioral challenges.

But you’ll feel much better if you just make that call and get it over with.

Write up a list of things you need to discuss before you call a parent. Use it as a sort of script to keep you on point.

Knowing what you’re going to say ahead of time can help it to seem less daunting.

Also, be sure to write down any questions they have or key details they share with you.

New Teacher Tip #8

New Teacher Tip #8

Expect to spend more time at school your first year.

But don’t expect it to last forever.

During my very first year of teaching, I got to school before 7am and left close to 5pm Every. Single. Day.

That meant I was at work for an hour before school started and 3 hours after it ended.

However, I slowly created organizational systems, understood school procedures, and just got better at being a teacher.

This helped me to spend less time at school and more time at home with my family.

So while you’re burning that midnight oil (I’m only half-joking), remind yourself that it won’t last forever.

New Teacher Tip #9

New Teacher Tip #9

Get advice and ideas from veteran teachers.

But don’t think you need to do them all right away.

I highly recommend that you get into other teachers’ brains and classrooms and glean ideas from their wealth of knowledge.

But be prepared to save some of those ideas for future use. 

Focus on tips that will save you time and energy, not just things that are cute or Pinterest worthy. You want to prioritize things with minimal setup time but big payoffs in the long run.

The homework and test organization systems that I have in place now have been BIG time savers. They took some time to set up but now the run like a well-oiled machine.

New Teacher Tip #10

New Teacher Tip #10

Ask for help when you need it.

Don’t think you’re all alone.

Finally, this tip can be very challenging for teachers. 

I don’t know about you, but I take a lot of pride in having all my ducks in a row. So it was hard for me to grasp that it’s okay to seek out help when I need it.

I’m talking about any kind of help. Help with a difficult student or parent. Help understanding how to best teach something. Or even help with your own mental/emotional health.

Teaching can be a very lonely and difficult profession if you think you’re on this journey alone.

So even if you want to be Super Teacher, remember that asking for help is actually a strength, not a weakness.

Thanks for taking the time to read through my 10 New Teacher Tips! Again, if there were any tips that I didn’t include, be sure to leave them in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

Now get out there and have a great school year!

Words to Live By 

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

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Meet Michele

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Hi! I’m Michele.

In addition to being a 1st grade teacher, I’m a wife and mom trying to find balance in a Christ-centered way.

My goal is to help you find balance in your life as well!

Check out my Teaching With Mama Owl Store for products that help me to find balance by working smarter, not harder.