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Tips for New Teachers from Veteran Teachers

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Daily Planners at HOD

How many times have you heard someone utter the statement, “If I only knew then what I know now”? It can be easy to lament a lack of wisdom in the early days of any career, but this sentiment can be particularly poignant with teachers as they reflect on what they could have done better for all the students they have taught.  

New teachers have the difficult position of being expected to produce results out of the gate before they have even had the chance to hone their craft. Armed with daily planners filled with lesson plans and activities, teachers are sometimes weighed down by the magnitude of their job. And as the current education profession undergoes significant upheaval and dissatisfaction it is more important than ever to guide new teachers with the experience and wisdom of veteran teachers so they can become successful veteran teachers in their own right.  

Insights and Best Practices from Veteran Teachers 

Don’t Break the Bank. Educators who have been teaching for many years know that creating an inspiring and comfortable classroom setting is essential for students to feel safe and ready to learn. But this can come with expenses that aren’t always funded by the school or district.  

It is well-known that teachers often spend their own money to stock their classrooms with not only essential items but also additional things that reinforce the learning experience. A lot of older teachers observe that this can be an expensive habit to begin and one that is difficult to break. With the advent of social media and other online networking sites, teachers can easily ask family, friends, and colleagues if they have any art or school supplies to donate to their classrooms. Many folks would welcome this opportunity to clear out paper, pens, markers, and books they aren’t using and give them to classrooms. 

Know Your Students. This might seem obvious but forming strong relationships with students establishes a trusting environment conducive to learning. It also promotes positive behavior and increased engagement. Students radiate enthusiasm and curiosity, and teachers can capitalize on these characteristics to stay energized every day and throughout the school year. Allow students to bring in their own interests related to the areas being taught so they have some ownership in their lessons and form bonds with their teacher and other students. 

Let Your Students Know You. It is a two-way street. It is important to let aspects of personal life into the classroom to engage students. Relate stories about your own experiences in the classroom and tell them what inspired you and what you disliked, and even throw in a funny or embarrassing tale to make you seem relatable.  

Time Management. If a teacher feels like they are living more at school than at home addressing time management issues may help alleviate this problem. What are the factors that can contribute to less-than-ideal time management? Unrealistic expectations and procrastination come to mind. 

There is always going to be what seems like too much work and not enough time to complete it. And sometimes the sheer volume is so overwhelming that putting things off can feel like the only way to get some relief. New teachers can easily dig a deep hole indicating poor time management. Veteran teachers offer simple yet effective advice like prioritizing what is most important and checking things off one by one rather than biting off a bit too much. This is a critical area to establish boundaries between professional and personal life with each allocated an equitable amount of time to complete tasks.  

Find Your People. Whether they are principals, fellow teachers, or other related members of the school system, establishing like-minded relationships is essential for sharing common goals, problems, and solutions. Education, especially at the classroom level, cannot take place in silos as feelings of isolation do not contribute to teacher satisfaction or social needs.  

Veteran teachers stress the importance of forming friendships, both professional and personal, to share support as well as best practices. Mentors can help guide new teachers along a successful career path, helping to avoid common pitfalls like seeking perfection and wallowing in mistakes. Teachers who have been in the profession for many years know being perfect is unrealistic and the sooner young teachers know this the easier it will be for them to learn and thus move on.  

Be Good to Yourself. Learn this lesson early and maintain it well. This applies to any profession, but teachers need to be reminded along the way because they dive headfirst into instructing their students and sometimes forget about taking care of themselves. Proper nutrition, as well as adequate sleep and exercise, are the fuels that keep teachers awake, motivated, and ready to tackle any challenge that awaits in their classrooms. It is important to set this example for mental and physical health because if either is diminished then so is a teacher’s capacity to provide an exceptional learning experience.  

All teachers, both new and veteran, should add this list of advice to their daily planners and weekly desk calendars. We all need reminders of all doing good for ourselves while so much of our time is devoted to others, especially when tasked with the responsibility of teaching our children.  

Where do you find your teaching tools and wisdom? At a calendar company or the veteran teacher across the hall? Are your assignment books off tasks? There are resources that can benefit every teacher from kindergarten to 12th grade. Take some time to find your resources today.