I have a bit of a theme going lately, back to school. I was thinking about all the first year teachers my old school just hired and was then thinking about my first year teaching. I got very lucky my first year when I found an experienced teacher who took me under her wing. She helped me navigate all the school politics that I wasn’t expecting and also gave me helpful teaching tips. Now it’s time to give back. Here are a few of the things I learned.
- During staff meetings don’t ask questions. Experienced teachers want to get out and will resent you. Instead, find a teacher you trust and ask him or her. If that doesn’t apply ask the secretary, principal, or vice principal.
- About school secretaries. They know absolutely everything. Be very, very nice to them and chat them up if you want to know what is going on before everyone else.
- Be nice to everyone. This is less a political thing than a pet peeve. It irks me no end to see teachers being dismissive of the custodians. I loved all of our custodians, they kept my room running and watched out for my classes when I had subs.
- You are not there to be friends with the students. You are there teacher, it doesn’t matter if they hate you as long as you can keep them under control and teach them. This doesn’t mean be a total jerk to them, just don’t try to make them ‘like’ you. Just do your job.
- Don’t assign homework that will take you hours to grade. Homework is to help children learn but it isn’t the main point. You aren’t going to be allowed to base their grade on their homework so don’t kill yourself grading it.
- Don’t take on a lot of clubs and sports. This may not seem like a teaching tip, but it is. If you are spending a ton of nights and weekend time working on the extra stuff you’ll have less time for teaching stuff. You are there to teach, it needs to be your top priority. When done right it isn’t an easy job. Give yourself some time to learn the ropes before you jump into a lot of extras.
If you are a new teacher do you have any questions or need some advice? If you are an experienced teacher do you have any tips to add??