With school right around the corner I figured I would share some advice for any new teachers, interns, or education students that may be following me. Although this is primarily a fashion/beauty blog it feels good to be writing about something else I am so passionate about. I haven’t been in ‘the game’ that long but I have had enough experiences in the last five years that I figured I would share some of it.
Ten Tips To Staying Sane & Learning To Love Teaching In Your First Year(s)
1.) Dress Up: My school has a fairly lax dress code. I like having the freedom to wear basically whatever I feel like, obviously within reason, but it is rare that you find me not dressed up. Obviously it’s no secret I love fashion but to me it is more than that. Dressing up and getting ready for a day at school sets the tone not only for yourself but also those around you. Looking good shows you care, you’re a professional, and gives you that little extra confidence. Also, there is no better place to try a new trend, hair style, or look- no audience is more blunt or honest than your students.
2.) Be Organized: This seems so obvious but it is something I struggle with. Having a cute day planner has helped me with this in a huge way. I purchase a new one at the beginning of every school year… the cuter the better. I grabbed this one from Chapters the other day and it couldn’t be more perfect. Take it with you to every staff meeting, parent conference, and keep it open on your desk. This will be your lifeline… your brain will be full with tattle tails, reading levels, reminders from parents, hot dog sales, yearbook meetings, lunchroom forms, attendance, standard test scores, scholastic book orders, parent conferences, and so on… write it down, trust me. A part of being organized is staying late. I’m sure you have heard it before, teaching is not 8:30-3:30 gig. There is no possible way, unless you’re a superhuman, that you can get all your work done within that time frame. Brew a coffee (or run to Starbucks), have a snack, put your phone on silent, and get it done. Rushing out at 3:30 may feel good at the time but it will leave you feeling unorganized and flustered the next day. Also, don’t complain about staying late on social media… no one cares or feels sorry for you. It’s a part of your job, deal with it.
3.) Ask For Help: As a new teacher you seriously have one million things to learn. As a fifth year teacher I still have one million things to learn… each year presents new challenges. Never be afraid to ask for help- experienced teachers loveeee sharing their knowledge and old resources…even if you don’t want to damn thing, take it, smile, and then toss it in your garbage at home. With that being said, pull your own weight as well. Yes, you’re a new teacher but you’re also a smart, capable, young, energetic human. HELP OUT. Put in your time… stay late, volunteer, run a club, do supervision. These are all a part of your job- are they always glamorous? No. Do they make a difference in the school community and the lives of your students? Yes.
4.) Buy an electric sharpener. Honestly, life changing… this one took me 4.5 years to figure out. Don’t let it take you that long. Buy a good one with warranty and thank me later.
5.) Do supervision: I know I mentioned this in my number 3 but I truly think it is important and let’s face it, the extra cash (if that’s how your division works) is a nice bonus. More importantly it allows you to get to know your students outside of the classroom. Some of my best memories are the visits I have with students as they follow me around the playground and tell me about their soccer game, dance recital, or the new puppy they just got. Let’s face it, being in a classroom with 25+ kids doesn’t leave a lot of time for one on one time, use moments like lunchroom and recess supervision to bond with your students- it’s those moments you will remember for years to come.
6.) Make Your Classroom Pretty: Okay, maybe pretty isn’t the best word… make it you. We spend a lot of time within those four walls. It is important to love your classroom. Get creative, make it personal, and keep it clean. A cluttered space = a cluttered brain… well that’s how I am anyways. Will you spend a lot of your own money on this? Yes, but trust me you’re going to be spending a lot of time there… make it pretty.
7.) Be Nice: Teaching is hard. You’re going to fail but I promise you’re doing a better job than you think you are. Be confident in what you’re doing- but don’t be a know it all (no one likes that). Seriously though, be kind to yourself. Teaching is friggin’ stressful, hard, and often lonely. No one is perfect- try your best, be passionate, know you will make mistakes, but know that more than anything, you care about those kids and that is what matters most. If you don’t care, drop everything and find a new job. Seriously, you hold way too much power to not care. Just because you don’t care doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, it just means you’re not meant to be a teacher… you have to care.
8.) LAUGH: My gosh… the most ridiculous things are going to come out of your mouth (especially if you teach primary students) and you will think “Did I actually just say that?” Some of my favorites include:
“Johnny, stop licking the boot rack”
“Mia, can you please stop picking Fred’s ear”
“Tay, can you please stop rubbing your chin on my shoe?”
*All names are made up for obvious reasons* At these particular moments in time I was most likely irritated or overwhelmed and didn’t see the humor in what I was saying but later, after I was able to process what I actually had said, I burst out laughing, seriously… our jobs are hilarious. Laugh.
9.) Keep a journal: Teaching is a seriously emotional career. Rewarding, upsetting, hilarious, annoying, tiring, exciting. The good, the bad, the ugly, but especially the funny… write it down. Looking back at those moments, especially the hilarious and rewarding ones, will serve as a reminder on those days when you feel like “what the f am I doing?”… and believe me you will have those days. We all do!
10.) Worship your school secretary, admin assistant, or whatever you call him/her: Sheila, our admin assistant is seriously the glue that holds our school together. Get to know yours, buy her a coffee, and if you can only afford to buy one person on your staff a gift at Christmas- make it your admin assistant. Having them on your side is the best thing you can do- they will make your life so much easier.
11.) Okay, I know the title says 10 things but this last one is super important. Socialize with your staff. When your staff is going for “Choir practice” to the local pub, even though you have a pile of marking on your desk, GO! Like I said before, teaching can be stressful and lonely. It is important to build relationships with your colleagues. I have built amazing relationships with my teaching partners and it makes all the difference. I mean really, what is better than working with your best friends?!
Cheers to a good school year… any other teachers have advice?! I would love to hear it!
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