June 28, 2015

Advice to First Year Teachers

As I was commenting on this blog post by Teaching with Crayons and Curls, I began typing a novel... so I decided I should just link-up and do a post myself! A lot of my advice is similar to hers, but I will try to elaborate differently!

I am not too far removed from my first year... last year was my second year, so I am nowhere close to knowing everything... but I also remember exactly how that first year felt. I don't want to scare any of you who are in your first year, but I want you to take comfort in knowing that you are not alone if you feel like you are treading water, on the verge of drowning, all. year. long. Also, take comfort in knowing that the second year is so much easier! [Side note: my second year was REALLY hard because I had a lot students with specific needs and behavior issues like crazy, but the teaching aspect was easier!]

The DOs:

1. Do know that it is perfectly fine to borrow things and steal ideas from your teammates, friends, mentors, etc. Teachers that have been teaching for years do this too! It makes your life so much easier if you have people to help you think, plan, and create! However, my first year, I didn't have much to give... I just did a lot of taking (and that's okay!). You can make up for it later! :)

2. Do save (almost) everything you use! Start getting organized! [I hate file folders, so I am switching all my files to binders this year.] You will reuse a lot- even if you don't want to do the exact same thing, you can use the same ideas or revamp prior activities. It is always good to have something to fall back on just in case you are pressed for time!

3. Do stay positive! This is important. It is really hard to be around negativity in the workplace because it brings others down too. You don't want to be the one causing other teachers to get frustrated, and your kids will definitely catch on if you're not enjoying what you do! 

The DON'Ts:

1. Don't compare yourself to other teachers (this is for any year teacher... and really a rule that girls should live by in general: don't compare yourself to others). It's so hard to see other teachers putting up outstanding, super cutesy student-work in the hall when your kids' work that day looks like you came up with it on the fly (and maybe you did). Obviously teachers that have been teaching for longer are going to have more ideas. You can learn from them! And if this year you did a boring worksheet on contractions, next year you can improve that to sentence strips and macaroni noodles, and the next year make it even cuter! CUTE is not as important as it seems. Trust me, I know that it is hard to have your students' work hanging in the hall next to SUPER TEACHER's work... but that's just it! If it's over-the-top cute, the teacher most likely put in most of the work. My first year, the students' work was for practicality. It helped them practice the skill. Last year, I added some "cuteness" and made it more student-centered. This coming year, I already have most of my ideas for what I want the students to be doing... so I have spent the summer downloading some cute clipart and fonts to spruce these items up. The cute will come later! Teaching styles are different, and that's okay too! You might not teach the same way that your neighbor or your mentor does... don't get discouraged! Find someone you plan well with, use their ideas combined with your ideas, and do what your kiddos need!

2. Don't let it take over your life. It is scarily easy to let your job take over every aspect of your life. Sometimes you will feel like you eat, breathe, sleep school. You need to set limits for yourself. Make yourself leave school at a certain time each day so that you still have time for your family. If you like to take your work home with you (I do), set a time that you have to stop working no matter what. Make one day your "stay late day" to get things done, but don't stay late any other day. Now, with that being said, there are weeks (first week of school, special school events, etc.) that you might have to stay late more than once or stay past your set time to leave. Overall though, you have to make boundaries for yourself or you will live at the school and have no life outside of it.


LOVE YOUR BABIES! Your first class will always have a special place in your heart. Even if you feel like you haven't taught them a thing all year, they will remember how you treated them. Teach them love!


  1. Thank you for sharing! It is so important to stay positive. I can remember mornings not wanting to get out of my car because there was so much negativity around.

    Love your babies! That's so true. They're our babies :)

    Made with Love

  2. Ok first off.....I think I am in love with your beagle mix. I love love, love, your advice "love your babies". I cry every year when the school year ends and I will never forget my first class and how special they were to me. They stuck with me through thick and thin as I "flubbered" along the way. I see you are doing the TPT seller challenge too! Yay! I'm really enjoying it. I'm so glad you commented on my blog because it led me here to your blog and I'm following you now too. I can't wait to see all the awesomeness you do! Give that Neely a kiss and hug ( I followed you on Instagram too) . :)