Hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it?
There are so many things I wish people would have told me when I first started teaching. I spent my first two years trying to juggle everything required of me, and I always felt like I was dropping the ball on something. It wasn’t until my third year that I was able to see what I really needed to focus on.
In an effort to save you the trouble, here are four things I think every new teacher should zero in on.
If there is anything that you should master your first year of teaching, it’s parent-teacher communication. There’s nothing like a distraught parent who doesn’t have the tools to communicate with their child’s teacher successfully, or an upset parent who missed an awards ceremony or project due to a lapse in communication.
Today, there are so many portals to provide progressive communication to families about upcoming assignments, events in your classroom, student behavior, or helpful examples of how to complete homework. Even more exciting? The outlets listed below are totally free:
2. Free Homework Passes
In my classroom, I implement a free homework pass. During my first two years teaching, I spent countless hours at the school grading papers, changing bulletin boards, and trying to get paper work complete. This cost me countless hours away from my family and my bed! Use your free homework pass! I’ve learned that if I come in 15-30 minutes early, and use my 45-minute planning time and the 30 minutes I have after school wisely, I can get a lot of work done.
Implement a week turnover to have assignments graded to stay caught up with grading and lesson plans. Practicing this will afford you the free time to enjoy your hobbies and recharge over the weekend--and that’s not just for your benefit. Above all, your students need a well-rested, energized, and happy teacher.
3. Teacher Workdays
This is the perfect opportunity to get ahead of the school year. On teacher workdays, try to come in at least 30 minutes earlier. Have a to-do-list to help you stay on top of all the things you want to complete that day. Work on lesson plans and pulling centers or supplement materials you will need to complete your lessons.
You can also block out 30 minutes to an hour to finish incomplete paperwork. Teacher workdays have proven to be one of my favorite workdays. You may be able to get as far as three weeks ahead, but hey, even if it’s only one week–you’re still ahead.
4. Asking for Help
Is there something you don’t know? A resource you need? Just ask. Reach out to your instructional coaches, your curriculum resources teacher; ask them for everything you need. You’d be surprised at the level of access and the many resources they have to help make your educational journey successful.
Also, if you find yourself having trouble teaching a particular learning standard, ask your teammate or a veteran teacher on your campus for advice. I have spent countless dollars, time, and energy when everything I needed was available to me on my campus. I didn’t know because I didn’t ask.
As teachers we have big responsibilities because we wear so many hats, but if you can zero in on the four things listed above, you can make the transition into teaching an easier one. Enjoy the journey!