Every teacher remembers her first day of school as a brand new teacher. As you prepare for your big day as a first year teacher, you’re probably feeling a mixture of excitement, nerves, anticipation, and anxiety. Soon, the butterflies in your stomach and shaking knees will be a thing of the past. Until then, we reached out to veteran teachers to create a New Teacher Checklist to help you have a successful first day — and first few weeks — of your very first school year!
1. Do Your Homework
In the weeks and days leading up to your first day as a new teacher, there will be a lot of prep work.
- Review your class roster and check student files, particularly the students who have special needs and who will need learning support outside of your classroom.
- Send out postcards or letters to your students introducing yourself and welcoming them back to school.
- During your classroom set-up and in-service days, meet and coordinate with other grade level teachers to plan for the first day.
- Decorate your classroom bulletin boards, add posters with words of encouragement, and create decorations themed to your first units of study.
- Organize students’ desks and add name tags. If you’re not sure which room set-up will work best for you, ask your fellow teachers for their advice.
2. Have A Plan for Day One
The first day of school certainly has its own way of operating, but you should run your room like you plan on running it every day. Introduce yourself to your students and ask them to introduce themselves to everyone else. (You might not be the only new person in class!) Most importantly, let the kids see your excitement. They will be looking for a connection because it’s their first day, too.
3. Find the Balance
In the first days of a new year, new teachers need to find a balance for disciplining infractions in your classroom. You don’t want to set a precedent for letting infractions slide. At the same time, you don’t want to come down too hard and have your students start to shut down. On your first day, assign time to review procedures, but know that once may not be enough. Be sure to readdress disciplinary issues as they arise over the first week.
Maneuvering the Middle suggests focusing on three issues that are important to you, which you will consistently enforce without question. These could include kindness towards one another, students leaving their seat without permission, proper hallway behavior, or taking responsibility for missed homework and assignments.
4. Don’t Go It Alone
You’ve got a school full of helping hands! You’ll soon be working closely with other teachers in your grade or content area, but you have even more resources available to you.
- Partner with the school librarian to create a lesson plan or learn about new educational tools.
- Talk to the instructional support team or guidance counselors if you’re having trouble with an individual child.
- When you see a student struggling, reach out to the teacher he had last year for input on how the teacher helped this student succeed.
- You can also enlist the support of reading specialists, ELL teachers, and special education or gifted teachers for ideas and advice in their specialties.
5. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
It might be another teacher in your school or those Pinterest-perfect teachers you follow on social media, but someone may cause you to doubt yourself. Remember, they’ve been at this for many years and have gone through many trials and errors. Instead of feeling down, take inspiration where you can, and you’ll soon find a way to do things your own way.
6. Be Smart on Social Media
In college, social media may have been the main way of communicating with your friends. But in the professional world, you need to be a bit more guarded in what you share and how you respond to others. Many teachers change their profile names and images so they are less likely to be searched out by students or parents. However, even with this strategy, the words you say or the images you show can get you in trouble. Be thoughtful and follow the same social responsibility rules you’re teaching your students!