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Five Things to Do Now as a New Teacher
posted by: Melissa | June 17, 2019, 07:15 PM   

Once you’ve crossed the stage and received your diploma, you may think you have a few months to relax before you need to start focusing on teaching for the first time (officially). After all, during your student teaching and throughout your coursework, you doubtless heard that the first year of teaching is the most difficult. So a well-deserved break to recharge makes it tempting to do very little over the summer months before your first job. However, there are a few essential things that new teachers can and should be doing now that will make day-one and those first few months go much more smoothly!

  1. Arrange a visit to your classroom. Most schools won’t allow teachers to decorate classrooms in the summer. Summer months are essential for deep cleaning and, quite often, classrooms may be used for summer programs. However, speak to your administration and arrange for a walk-through. Spend time in the classroom to get a feel for its layout and dimensions. Take pictures (especially of storage spots!) and note measurements. Typically, you’ll find that your classroom may come “pre-stocked” with items left behind by the previous teacher. You can check with the administration to see what you can expect will actually remain in the classroom and use that as a basis to start collecting your own materials and writing your lesson plans. While you’re there, take a tour of various extracurricular rooms, computer labs, libraries, school-wide supply closets, the copy room, and other places you’re likely to frequent as a new teacher.
  2. Get your curriculum materials early! Much like access to your classroom, you’ll likely be able to secure a teacher’s set of curriculum before your school year starts. This is invaluable, since it will allow you to get a jump on preplanning for the school year. Once classes begin, you’ll find that you have very little time for actual planning, so working ahead during the summer will buy you precious time. On the other hand, don’t consider anything too firmly set in stone. It’s not uncommon for new teachers to find they need to significantly modify lesson plans within a few weeks into the semester.
  3. Think about rules, routines, procedures, and incentives. The key to a well-run classroom is making sure that students know what to do while they’re in it. Before the school year starts, decide how you want your classroom to look and run. You’ll likely have limited experience, so this is an area you want to network with other teachers both in person and online. Spend a lot of time researching what works in other classrooms and remember, simple, easy to follow routines and procedures work best.
  4. Plan your very first day. Your first day of the school year is one that is very important and you don’t want to leave what happens to chance! Take time during the summer to write a ‘script’ for what you will do during that first day and then practice it until you have it down. That way, you won’t forget what you want to say or need to do under the pressure of first-day nerves. Just as with rules and routines, you will find a lot of suggestions for how to spend your first day online and this is an area where you can rely on the experience and wisdom of other teachers.
  5. Join your professional associations. Membership in professional associations are key to your growth as an educator. Now that you have completed your coursework, it will be challenging to stay up-to-date on teaching methods and policy changes that affect what you do every day. Professional associations deliver a steady and trusted flow of the information you need to be the best teacher possible. You’ll want to join content-area and specialty associations that provide the information most relevant to your subject(s). Consider joining general association that represents the interests of teachers as a profession and will help protect you against accusations in the classroom. We believe strongly that AAE should be that association, because of its commitment to teacher professionalism, and because of its stellar legal assistance and liability insurance. You can learn more about how to join AAE here.

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