Welcome to the incredibly rewarding, and let’s face it, sometimes exhausting and overwhelming, world of teaching!
We remember our first year in the classroom oh so well 🤪 The excitement is through the roof – competing equally with the nerves! Years of a teaching degree behind you…and you still don’t know where to begin.
We have asked some of our favourite Instagram friends to offer up their five ✨TOP TIPS✨ for teaching graduates to help with those nerves and get you off on the right start 🙌🏻
I know it is hard to fight the urge to splurge and spend up big on your favourite classroom supplies before the term begins but I’d encourage every new teacher to hold off and wait a minute. Make sure you check out the resources that your school and classroom have to offer before you buy anything. Check if you have a budget allocated to you that you’re able to spend to avoid spending your own dollars and if you do need to buy something go for quality over quantity. Buy resources and products that will last and that you’ll use for years to come rather than the latest teacher fads.
Hopefully, your school will have a formal process for this but if not, I’d encourage you to find yourself a mentor that you can go to for support, guidance and help when needed. Your mentor will be a source of wisdom and experience to help make your introduction to teaching that little bit easier and remember to make the most of this relationship. Ask questions, be honest, be vulnerable and be real.
I can’t say this enough, but you deserve to be a priority on your “to-do list.” Remember to take care of yourself because you as the teacher are the greatest and most valuable resource available to your students. My first principal once told me that the best gift I can ever give my students is a happy, healthy and well-rested teacher and that’s always stuck with me. Remember to take care of your physically, mentally, emotionally and socially by doing the things you love and keeping yourself refreshed, energized and feeling your best.
Organisation is very important when it comes to teaching! However, I believe that it is up to the individual as to what organisation looks like to you! Personally, I choose to use my planning time at school to do things in the classroom and choose a designated morning of the weekend to plan the week ahead! When it comes to planning, having a very organised and well thought out planner is very helpful!
Communication is the key to having a successful year with your students and their families! Communicating with the families is very important to ensure they are in the loop with everything and it also makes them feel part of their child’s learning journey! Personally, I send an email every weekend updating the families on what’s happening that week!
Ask teachers at your school questions! Don’t be afraid to ask them anything! Asking questions shows that you’re really passionate about furthering your skills as a teacher! There is nothing wrong with feeling like you don’t understand something. I am 4 years into my teaching career and I still ask plenty of questions to my peer teachers!
Teaching is a career that requires a lot of time and dedication, whether you’re at an event after school or spending your weekend making resources. Again it’s up to the individual what dedication can look like for you. There is no one right way, however, I do believe you need to be dedicated and enthusiastic!
Lastly, be you! Being you is the most important thing you can do! Don’t feel as though you need to change yourself to impress staff and parents at your school! Just be yourself, you were chosen for a reason.
To survive your grad year you definitely need to take time to care for yourself! You can do this by leaving work early whenever possible and not taking work home with you. Give yourself downtime! I swear it’s the reason I didn’t burn out this year.
Seek out those that are able to help you throughout the year! I’ve made great relationships with everyone my kids and I dealt with this year. Being kind to others is so important! Our librarian was such a big part of my kids lives this year and she always went the extra mile to help me with resources or finding/buying picture books!
Having everything organised within your classroom makes it easier for not only you but your students too! You’d be surprised by how much 4-year-olds love to organise shelves and pack things away neatly! They look up to you, so if you’re keeping things neat and tidy, they will too!
If you organise your time well from the start, it won’t be so overwhelming towards the end of each term!
You only get 1 grad year, so enjoy it! This has been the best year of my life so it’s so exciting to see where the rest of my teaching career will take me! Make loads of memories and learn as much as you can from others!
Being a graduate teacher really does make you feel like a ‘duck on water’. On the surface, you’re cool, calm and collected but underneath you’re paddling so hard to keep afloat. Guess what….that is totally normal and it does get easier, I promise.
Ask for help! No question is a dumb question. Having a support person or mentor will help navigate your first few years of teaching.
Relationships are key in everything you do. Making relationships with your students, parents and colleagues will make the world of difference.
Always evaluate your teaching lessons. I still do it now, 6 years later! We all still have lessons that didn’t go to plan and that’s fine, learn from it and move on. I found it so strange after University not getting constant feedback on my teaching practises, so become that person for yourself.
I saved the most important for last. Make sure to look after yourself in the process. If you need to take a day to get better, take that day. If you need to have a cry, have a cry. Try and take a least one day a week where you do no work. Remember, you can’t be the best teacher for your students unless you. look after yourself first.
Being a graduate teacher, it’s easy to get caught up on high expectations and ideas you see on social media. In your first year of teaching, you want to find your feet with your teaching style (pedagogy), learn about your school and your students. Remember everyone has to start somewhere and all teachers were graduates one day. Only buy and make what you need, not what you want! You have many years ahead of you where you can buy, create and add more to your classroom each year. Give yourself a budget of what you spend of your own money so that you don’t burn all your earnings just on your classroom! Your money should be spent on you! Don’t forget to use your class budget as you shouldn’t be buying all your stationary and supplies for your students with your own money. Not everything needs to be brand new! Don’t forget to check out your local op shops and look out for things cheaper on Marketplace, Gumtree and Facebook groups.
Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions, seek help and clarification from your more experienced colleagues and leadership staff. Asking for help shows signs of you wanting to be the best teacher you can be for your students and your school.
Establish strong working relationships with your colleagues, parents and students. Once you have your relationships, you can achieve anything that you put your mind to! Creating relationships with your colleagues will enable you to have a strong support network around you that you can rely on whenever you need it and it will only help you to learn and thrive as an educator. Building s positive relationships with your students helps them to trust you… leading to success. When students have a strong relationship with their teacher, they are more likely to engage in their learning and have better academic outcomes!
Each day of being a teacher is very different. You will be faced with different challenges and obstacles each and every day. Remember to trust yourself, trust the process and celebrate your wins and learn from your mistakes (these are all things that you will expect from your students so why not model it for yourself). All teachers experience the feeling of being overwhelmed because teaching is one of those jobs where you don’t have a manual to follow. Remember to take time out of your day to have some ‘me time’ whether that’s reading a book, taking a long bath, exercising, watching Netflix etc. Spending time on yourself will help manage your feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed. It will also ensure you give the very best version of yourself to your students and school each and every day!
Your first year of teaching will be the biggest year of your career with so many unknowns, so many new things to learn and new experiences that no other job or even your time at university can prepare you for! Don’t forget to enjoy it as you will always look back on this year in your future! Smile, laugh, give things a go and enjoy your time shaping young minds of our future!
We hope these tips have helped your headspace as you start your teaching career. We have also launched our Survival Guide For Beginning Teachers e-book, which features the tips you read above, plus checklists, planning guides and so much more! You can access the guide by clicking the pic below.
Happy 2022 Top Teacher Team! 💛