Tips for New Teachers

Hipteacher has a new post full of great advice for new teachers. I wanted to comment on a couple of pieces of advice and add my own.

There is no one lesson plan format. If someone wants “lessons” from you ahead of time, you could be turning in anything from red Sharpie scrawl across a napkin to three page documents that site local/state/national standards. Don’t do the latter if you can do the former. This, after three years of teaching and beating myself up about my inability to make and keep plans, is part of my actual philosophy of teaching. If I can remember a lesson that I’ve done before, and I want to do it again, then it was probably really good. If not, then I need to go back to the drawing board. I know this won’t work and won’t make sense for many people, but, for me, I keep my lessons fresh and my own excitement and engagement with the material high by doing this, and the kids respond.

I know this isn’t what she meant, but don’t go in there cold without knowing what you’re doing. The students have a nose for the unprepared teacher, and they will make sure your lack of plans means that no learning will take place. But she’s right in that a variety of lesson plan formats and templates exist. The bottom line is do whatever it is your school expects regarding lesson plans.

Stay away from negative, I-hate-children teachers. Avoid break-room, and eat in classroom if necessary. In private school, amend somewhat to eat lunch with others a couple times of week. This is a social thing and, therefore, necessary.

I don’t completely agree with this one. Yes, you should avoid those negative teachers; however, I don’t think they exist only in public schools, nor would I single out private school teachers for the “amendment.” You can find teachers who are happy in their jobs in either place, and you can find negative teachers in either place.

Keep handwritten, like with a pencil or pen, records. Keep everything. Your electronic grade book will erase your grades at some point.

This one is really important. In this day and age probably most of us are required to keep grades on the computer or at least send grades via a computer program. But keep a handwritten copy.

Other stuff I would add:

  1. Take notes during phone conferences and face-to-face conferences so you have a written record of any agreements/concerns/etc.
  2. Keep track of absences and tardies for each class period. I use a separate gradebook just for this purpose.
  3. Figure out a way to get students to do the work they need to do to practice without you having to grade every little thing. Ask me about notebook checks.
  4. Dress professionally. It really does make a difference.
  5. Get involved in professional organizations related to your field and subscribe to a journal.
  6. Bell-to-bell teaching is critical, particularly in middle school.
  7. Reflect on your teaching practices either in a paper journal or blog or something like that, even if it’s just once a month or once a quarter.
  8. Get support. If you are not assigned a mentor, find one for yourself; pick someone who likes his/her job, is willing to spend the extra time talking with you about teaching, and is admired for his/her professionalism and good teaching by the administration and faculty.
  9. Read The First Days of School by Harry Wong.
  10. Get yourself a professional planner (my favorite is the Teacher’s Daybook by Jim Burke).

Veteran teachers, add your own advice in the comments.

[tags]advice, teaching, teachers, education[/tags]

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5 thoughts on “Tips for New Teachers

  1. This advice is priceless. I love to read other teacher's advice and about their experiences — I find it much more useful than textbooks and dry theories.

    I look forward to reading more : )

  2. Hi,

    I started to teach part time and I have a real discipline issue. How can I get the students to listen to me?

    Do you have tips for that?

  3. Excellent tips! Although I will stay my more napkin-like plans often turn out better than my standard-aligned down-to-the-minute plans.

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