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Being a first-year teacher can be scary. Before I stepped into my first solo classroom, I remember thinking things like, “What am I going to do with all those kids ALL day long?” “What if they don’t listen to me?” and “Who thought it was a good idea to let me do this?!”
If you’re feeling equally as jittery, here are some tips for setting up your first year for success!
While there are tons of blog posts out there about how to handle the first day of school, I’m focusing on how to set up your classroom for success. What do you actually need as a teacher? What will you actually use? The ideas out there can be overwhelming. Be mindful that as you’re scrolling through Pinterest and Instagram gathering ideas, some of those teachers may be in year 20 of their teaching career!
Keep it simple by focusing on the following three things: Planning, Classroom Management, Organization.
Before you get into your classroom, planning is really all you have! Order a quality lesson planner that you like! Personally, I like the Happy Planner system because I can print my weekly lesson plans, punch them with the Happy hole punch, and clip them into my lesson planner. I went through a LOT of different planners before I found a system that worked perfectly for me! That’s what you’ll have to do, too.
If you buy a planner and decide halfway through the year that it’s not working for you, try another one! Sometimes, I toss a planner halfway through because I’ve scribbled too much in pen. Finding erasable pens was a game-changer for me! My favorite pens for planning are the Pilot Frixion Erasable Pens. These pens are my dream come true because they allow me to color code AND erase mistakes!
When I start planning, I fill in all the boxes in the weekly grid using a different color for each subject. Once I plan with my team and we have a solid lesson plan in place, I print it out, punch it, clip it in for that week, then start the whole process over again! Before the school year starts, I recommend having your planner, planning pens, and hole puncher ordered and ready to go!
Classroom management is such an ongoing topic to learn about. Even the most veteran teachers have students or classes who will give them a run for their money! If you’re just starting out, here are a few tips: Children need structure, routine, and consistency. It doesn’t mean you can’t do fun crafts or stop for a teachable moment, but it does mean that your kids (and you) will operate if you have clear expectations and predictability.
During the first week of school, I recommend marking carpet spots, line spots, labeling everything, and posting a visual schedule. And making anchor charts, lots of lots of anchor charts about your expectations! Some things that will help you around your classroom will be color-coded tape, Sharpies, and a clear place to hang anchor charts. Be as explicit as you can about as much as you can as early as you can!
The first few weeks are such a blur, especially for a new teacher! My first year, I kept having this terrible neck pain and I couldn’t seem to figure out what was causing it. Finally, I realized it was from wearing a lanyard with my keycard, ID badge, and classroom key around my neck all day! In my second year, I made one of the best purchases of my career (a little dramatic? Maybe).
I moved my keycard into a luggage tag, and attached it and my classroom key to my car key ring! Now, no matter where I’m going, I have all the keys I need. No more standing in the hallway because I drove myself to school but couldn’t get in the classroom door. Plus, writing my name and phone number on the little card inside the luggage tag has helped people contact me when I’ve left my keys someplace 🙂 Little changes like this help you simplify your life and keep up with the busy teaching lifestyle!
As you go through your first year, be sure to journal and reflect as much as you can! You’ll be amazed at how much you grow in this first year! Don’t let the internet overwhelm you! Remember, your top priorities are: Planning, Classroom Management, Organization. You can do all the rest later!
If you’d like to see all my suggestions for new teachers, check out the whole list here! If you hover over each picture, you can read how I use these things in my classroom year after year. You can also put these items on your own Amazon wishlist and share it with family members. People always love to help out new teachers!!
Don’t worry, you will do great!!!
What are some other dilemmas about working (or living) with kids that you’d like help with? I’m happy to help with whatever I can!