You remember your first day of school. Your parents probably took a picture of you grinning just outside the front door, backpack on your back, ready for the beginning of a great adventure. Now in adulthood, you’re preparing for an altogether new kind of first day of school: one where you’re the one at the front of the classroom. In late August or early September, you’ll start your first year as a professional educator. While there’s a lot about an educator’s day that you can’t plan for, you can begin setting the stage for success this summer with three of our tips for how new teachers can plan for their first year. It’s the beginning of another great adventure.
Use Veteran Teachers as a Resource
Many rookie teachers come into their new schools with guns blazing, fresh certificates in hand, and ready to radically redefine the way we think about teaching. Young people think they know everything—wait until you meet some of your students. But as John Donne wrote, “No man is an island,” and no classroom is one, either. Collaborate with your colleagues before school is in session to draw as much veteran knowledge, information about the school district, and other tips and tricks as you can to make your first year as a teacher and teammate successful.
Don’t Over Plan
In football, offenses generally script their first 15 plays of the game beforehand, after which they start to tailor their play calling to the situation in the game. So it goes with teaching. Trying to immaculately plan out the entire year before the first day will only lead to those plans getting derailed. Have your first few weeks well-planned in advance, including activities for you and your students to get to know one another; however, as October rolls around, don’t fear making some tweaks.
A large part of how new teachers can plan for their first year of teaching is to start thinking about all things organization. Classrooms can look very different from grade to grade, of course, but whether you’re wrangling grade schoolers or filling high schoolers’ minds with knowledge, some principles hold true across grade levels. Namely, teachers and students must have a good handle on what goes where in the classroom. Think about what you can organize by using color-coding for easy and intuitive sorting. For instance, you can assign different colors to supplies and materials for respective subjects at the elementary level. Coming in with a solid foundation of organizational principles rather than making it up as you go along should help ensure a smoother start to year one.