There's nothing more frustrating than asking an experienced teacher for first-year teaching advice and getting the answer, "well, in a few years it'll get easier." Ms. Tucker just finished her first year teaching, here are her tips for surviving (even thriving!) during your first year!
The 2021-2022 school year was one of the most challenging years for teachers and students all over. Transitioning back to in-person learning full-time after a year and a half of virtual learning brought forth a number of hurdles that even the most seasoned teachers struggled to navigate. I have a family member I’m fairly close to who is one of those seasoned teachers, and it was eye-opening and reassuring to hear how many battles and frustrations we shared this past year when it came to classroom management and classroom culture especially. Thinking about this past year, I definitely have some go-to tips for brand new and newer teachers I want to share:
Put your oxygen mask on first
I think most teachers genuinely don't realize how easy it is to accidentally project their own personal mess onto their students. We just don’t need to be teaching if we’re not actively working against slipping into those dangerous habits. My recommendation is to FIND A THERAPIST BEFORE THE SCHOOL YEAR STARTS or ASAP!
Self care may look different for you
Do NOT let others influence what genuine self-care looks like to you! If you need to shut everyone out during each of your breaks or not attend happy hours then do so unapologetically!
Work-life boundaries are a MUST! During the first half of last school year, I quickly drove myself towards burnout by bringing school work home every single day and trying to meet everyone's expectations. Our health and well-being as educators are so much more important than anybody’s “non-negotiable” deadlines. I said what I said.
Bring Yourself To Class
Be your authentic and loving self with your students! With middle schoolers especially, they won’t hesitate to put you on blast if they think you’re being fake, you’re putting on a show, or you're not putting your relationship with them first in everything that you do. Teaching is a muscle you build and strengthen with time and dedication, not a skill you can master.
Last but not least, PLEASE HAVE FUN! Learning should be fun! School should be fun and engaging as much as possible for our students and for us as well! Rules and procedures are a necessity in any classroom with any age group, but those procedures and overarching expectations from administration shouldn’t make us feel like we need to stifle authentic moments of joy, happiness, and silliness with OUR kids.