Are you a new teacher? Are you so excited that you can hardly stand it? Are you nervous? Are you overwhelmed? Guess what, we all are! Let me see if I can give you a few tips for new teachers.
Tip for new teachers #1 Get your room ready
If you are lucky enough to have had the chance to see your room ahead of time, start planning your space. The teacher desk/work space should not dominate the space in your classroom.
Here is what my teacher desk looks like… Let’s take a tour:
- If you look, you will see a computer on the table. Under the computer is a purple crate. That is where I store student portfolios.
- The white Sterilite Stacking Drawers hold my office supplies, band-aids (ESSENTIAL), and prepared teaching resources.
- Next to the sink, you will see the Sterilite Mini Drawers. This is where I put my guided reading materials (leveled books and such).
- Under the mini drawers is a shelf. That is where I store my leveled texts that students use as additional practice with guided reading. These books are in addition to my classroom library.
- Can you will see a green and white curtain? Behind the curtain are professional books I want to keep handy and curriculum binders for the year. You can read more about these HERE.
- Finally… in my “teacher desk space,” I have my small group table. This table is not a place for me to pile my stuff on. It is used to teach small group. Do you see the shelf behind my chair? This picture was clearly taken in August. Because by September 10th, that shelf looked a little like the Leaning Tower of Pisa! Just keeping it real.
- The purple tubs (Rubbermaid Roughneck Tote) serves two purposes. Seating and storage! They are STRONG! UM… I can sit on them and I am not a delicate flower. This table is about 200 years old and the legs would not go down any further, so these tubs were perfect. Students love sitting on their knees. TIP: I got these totes at WalMart (I think). They were really reasonable! AND in August/September they have fun colors!
Think about the work spaces your students will be working in. Make sure they are kid friendly and inviting! Your classroom does not need to be Pinterest ready… I promise! BUT it needs to be functional.
Tips For New Teachers #2, #3, #4, #5 (Yes, it is THAT important) Relationships
Focus on the relationships you build. THIS will be what they remember. When they look back at their kindergarten year, they won’t remember if you have matching tubs. They WILL remember that your loved them and made them feel important.
These are a few of my kindergarten friends who traveled across 3 states to visit me last summer. Be still my HEART!
How do you build relationships?
It starts before the very first day. As soon as I get my class list, I sit down and hand write post cards to all of my new students. I tell them a little about me (mostly about my family and dogs) and then I promise them that kindergarten will be magical. A few days later I send a letter to my future parents.
This is a version of what I send each year. As a parent… these are the things that kept me up at night (Will my son’s teacher see how amazing he is? Will she love him? Will she treat his heart with care?) Until a parent knows that you are in this together, you are going it alone. This letter starts the conversation. (If you see a typo… don’t tell me…ha) Click on the image to get a copy.
In my letter I ALWAYS say 2 things:
- I promise to treat your child the way I would like my own child treated. I REALLY mean that. REALLY! When I am speaking to my class, correcting a student, giving “the talk” to my group when they seem to have lost. their. minds, I try to imagine their parents are there listening. I try to imagine my administrator is listening. I try to image CNN is listening. If I would be embarrassed in front of them, I should change my tactic.
- I am not perfect. MERCY! I am the least perfect person. I know this. I know there will be times when I fall short of someone’s expectations. I know there will be a misunderstanding at some point. We are human. We are dealing with young children. We are dealing with parents MOST PRECIOUS thing. There will be misunderstandings. This is why I include my cell phone number on every weekly newsletter I send home. I would MUCH rather have a parent call me at 8pm at night to clear up a question, than have them fret and worry all night. Emotions tend to build when questions are left unanswered. I have taught in a variety of schools… high poverty-inner city included. I have never regretted this practice… EVER.
Pick up the phone
Those first few weeks of school, I contact each parent. My first call is ALWAYS something positive. EVEN if I am about to lose my mind, it is always positive. If that child is coloring on the walls, I might say, “Sally sure loves working with color!” ANY.THING, but keep it positive. At this time, I remind parents to contact me if they have any concerns and ask them to put my phone number in their phone right then.
Tip For New Teachers #7 Procedures! Procedures! Procedures!
Know that your first few weeks of school will be about covering procedures. You will want to over train your students and reteach them continuously. As you get to know your students and they get to know you, you will expect procedures to be followed. Here are a few tips for new teachers that I learned as a parent that carried over to the classroom:
- Say it once and mean it. If you find yourself repeating yourself… DON’T! Make an anchor chart if necessary. But if you repeat yourself 3 or 4 times, students will learn that you don’t mean it until the 4th time and your face is red and your head is about to pop off. Discuss procedures and consequences with your classroom ahead of time.
- Never argue… ever! If tempers flare, be the calm one and just repeat the procedure.
EXAMPLE: Child is drawing on the desk.
You: Pencils are for writing on paper.
Child: I wasn’t, I was just blah, blah, blah.
You: Pencils are for writing on paper.
Child: But I wasn’t, I was just blah, blah, blah.
You: Pencils are for writing on paper.
After the child realizes you won’t engage in a battle, they will usually stop.
Tip For New Teachers #8 Engaging Curriculum
Nothing takes care of behavioral problems like engaging curriculum. If your class is not having fun or if you are not prepared, you are walking up a LONG HILL. You can find out how to plan ahead by looking HERE.
I will be sharing my lesson plans on my blog again this year! I hope that will help you as you find your own way.
Tip For New Teachers #9 Keep Positive
This is a hard job, but it is an important one. If you are like me, you will have days where you are wondering if they are hiring at McDonald’s and you will practice the line, “Do you want fries with that order?” But I am telling you, it is the best job ever!
Remember why you decided to become a teacher. When you have a rough day, remind yourself. Don’t fall into the trap of complaining about “kids today.” Seek the company of positive people. They will lift you up. Don’t listen to people who say, “these kids can’t.” Seek to continue your education on how kids learn and the best instructional practices.
You guys, this could go on forever! These are just a few tips for new teachers to get your year started. You’ve got this!!!
Please feel free to ask me questions. I am happy to answer them!
This is one of the VERY BEST blog posts I have ever read! We have several brand new Kindergarten teachers in our district and I have been asked to work with some of them. I am going to make sure they read this post. Making connections and building relationships are so very important and many teachers skip over this .
Thanks for such a great read tonight!
Thank you so much! I really feel like without it, you are swimming upstream alone! Thank you so much Denise. I appreciate the feedback!
This is a super post, Deedee!! You wrote out some awesome advise!! I’ll pin this to get it out there to even more beginning kindergarten teachers! They will all appreciate it, I’m Sure!!
Mrs. Wills this is a wonderful resource for new teachers! THANK YOU! In August I will begin my last year of college AND student teaching; While I have done field experience before this will be the first time I am in the classroom “full time”. I am beyond excited to have my own classroom and I have bookmarked this post so that I may reference it in the future. Thank you again, a million times over
Thank you so much! Best of luck at this super exciting time of the your life!
This is such a great post! I feel like you are my BFF as I’ve bought so many of your products and bookmarked so much of your blog. When I’m contemplating something in my classroom, I think “I wonder how DeeDee does it” and come back to your blog for ideas. Thank you for what you do!!!
SWEETNESS! Thank you so much!!!!
Thanks so much for the wonderful freebies. I have several lesson plans complete for this week. Your blogs are all awesome!
I have been teaching 30 years and have always given my phone number to parents. I agree with you. I would rather have them call than sorry. I have never had anyone abuse it. This is my 2nd year in kindergarten and I am learning a lot from your blog’s. Thank you.
I love your posts and all the amazing tips and freebees. I taught Title for 20 years then 5th and 3rd. This is my first year in kindergarten and they have really helped me transition. One question because I love this idea. How did you make the seats for the rubermaid containers? Is there wood and then a pillow covered by material?
Actually, I did not put wood down first. These were incredibly strong because I am NOT a delicate flower. Then I (my mom) made a little pillow to fit on top. It just sits there and it is not secured.
A curriculum binder is really one of the must-haves! It keeps all the teacher stuff needed for different purposes.