Dear pre-service teacher: There's a lot of information being thrown at you during your studies. I remember it fondly! But, having experienced the real world of teaching, I know there's more that I could've learned to avoid first-year teacher stress if I'd only known to ask.
By asking the five questions below, you can be sure you're prepared when you finally step foot in your own classroom!
- What teaching strategies can I use to stay organized?
- Where can I go when I need help in my first year?
- What are the expectations of professionalism I should be prepared to meet?
- How can I improve my teaching processes?
- How should I take care of myself as a teacher?
One of the toughest things for first-year teachers to overcome is the sheer amount of work to do. So many new teachers find themselves spending long evenings after school, working on weekends and holidays, combating feelings of stress.
You have a lot more to do than experienced teachers who have their lesson plans written and their materials prepared from previous years. So you need to learn strategies to help you organize, prioritize your tasks, and achieve your goals in a timely manner.
There is nothing wrong with needing some guidance as a first-year teacher, whether it's about working with a challenging student or navigating curricula and assessments.
As a pre-service teacher, you are surrounded by people who are there to guide you. It’s a bit tougher to know where to turn once you start working, so figure this out now. Once you find a good professional learning community, you’ll feel much more confident stepping into your first year.
Your pre-service teacher program is aimed at preparing you to be successful in the field of education. But don’t just focus on the big picture; take some time to learn about the little things that make up professionalism, such as appropriate dress, email etiquette and co-teaching expectations. These things are equally important to your preparedness, so make sure you are given the information you need.
The best teacher is the teacher who keeps learning and keeps improving, leaning on strategies for self-reflection. Being able to review your lessons and instructional strategies, reflect on what worked and what didn't and make changes for the future are necessary skills for effective teachers. Learning these strategies is essential to your ongoing professional growth.
Teacher burnout is an unfortunate but real concern in our line of work. Developing habits of self-care from the beginning can help combat the factors that cause burnout. Ask experienced teachers what they do to cope with stress and what strategies they use to keep themselves physically, emotionally and mentally prepared for their job.
Your time as a pre-service teacher is exciting and busy. You're learning a great deal about the wonderful world of teaching, of which you will soon be a part. Use these questions to make sure you are as prepared as possible!
American College of Education has the graduate-level programs you need to hone your teaching skills and prepare you for success in the classroom. Explore all our programs in the field of education to find the right one for you.