Tips for New Teachers

I'm by no means a seasoned veteran teacher.  However, I do have a few years under my belt and have learned some things along the way.  These are some things that I wished I had done from my very first year.
Are you a new teacher?  These tips and advice will help you get your classroom started on the right foot!

Assigned Seats
I've always given assigned seats.  However, my first year, I let the kids come in and sit down and then moved them into their seats.  Bad move.  The key is to have them go to their assigned seats immediately.  That way, you don't have to ask them to move, and you free up class time.  This didn't dawn on me until my second year.  I make cards with the kids names on them and put them on the desks right before the bell rings.  Then, the kids just have to find their name on their desk.  After that, whenever I change the seating arrangement, I just tape the new seating chart to the front board and the kids find their desk themselves.

Never Assume
Don't assume that your students know what you're talking about.  SHOW them.  Show them how to show their work, show them how to appropriately work with a partner, show them how to study, etc.  Even in high school, behavior modeling is important. Two years ago I had to have a discussion with my class about shadows.  Several kids didn't know that they were on the ground, not in the air. Honest.  I would hate for them to miss those test questions because they didn't understand shadows.

Have a Student Work Safe Place
Kids lose stuff.  I have sophomores that often lose their work.  Now, I have a special cabinet in the back of my room with a shelf for each class period.  Kids can leave their stuff on the class shelf if they're afraid they might lose it.  For some kids, this is a lifesaver.

Even if you're shaking in your shoes, fake it till you make it!  It's amazing how classroom management problems disappear when you're confident!

Make Copies in Advance
Our copy machine breaks all the time.  While it's always fixed promptly, I don't want to be in a rush and then deal with a broken machine.  I always make my copies in advance.  Every week, on Thursday or Friday I make all of my copies for the entire next week.  That way, I know I have everything I need.  It takes me a little while, but it's so worth it!

Keep an Extra Jacket in Your Classroom
Sometimes it gets cold.  Also, for ladies, keep pony tail holders in your desk.

Over Prepare
Over prepare each class period.  In the beginning it will take you a little while to figure out exactly how long each lesson or activity will take.  Eventually you will get into a rhythm and figure it out.  If you're over prepared, you don't have to worry.  However, if you're under prepared, that "extra time" can become wasted instructional time with kids getting into trouble.  Keep your students so busy that they don't have time to get into trouble.

While this is by no means an exhaustive list, hopefully it helps at least a little.  If you're looking for further reading, I recommend The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher by Harry Wong.  A few of the ideas are a little juvenile for high school, but they can easily be adapted.

Is there anything you wish you knew when you started teaching?

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  1. I am an agriculture teacher about to start my third year and I just found your blog via Pinterest. Holy cow this is awesome! Your advice applies to more than just math teachers, I love it! I wish I would have known all of this my first year, but like you, I figured it out the hard way. I look to forward to your posts!

  2. Thanks! The first year is really the hardest! I hope your third year is great!


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