Lessons from a First-Year Teacher

Obviously I wouldn't consider myself an expert at teaching, or even close to one.  However, there are some lessons I've learned in my first month or two that I would like to pass on to any future teachers out there :)

  • Set a time for yourself that you will leave the school and STICK TO IT.  Teaching is one of those jobs that there is ALWAYS work to be done and it's so easy to stay at school into the late hours of the night.  It's important to have a life outside of your job, so set a time that you will leave for the day and stick to it!  My school lets out at 4 pm. so most of the time I tell myself I'll leave by 5:30.  That doesn't mean I don't go home and work a little more, but it's a nice change of scenery and gives me the time to go meet friends for dinner or catch a quick workout.
  • Don't grade papers at school.  Now, I've actually been told just the opposite from several teachers and I'm sure once I have a family my stance on this will change.  For now though, I like to grade papers while catching up on my favorite tv shows.  This just allows me to have my planning time to actually plan, or have conferences.
  • Coffee, Ibuprofen, and Dark Chocolate are your friends.  If you're having a really rough day, take all three :)
  • Get involved in school activities outside of the subject area you teach in.  Coaching Cheer, while very time consuming, has allowed me to meet people in the school that I would not have normally met.  It also allows my students to see me outside of the classroom, and gives me the chance to be involved in every pep rally and other fun school events.  Helping with Miss BHS allowed me to get to know some of the Senior girls, whom I normally don't see since I teach on the opposite side of campus.
  • Make your presence known.  Don't just assume your administrators will know you're doing your job well.  If you have a great lesson that day shoot them an email about it.  If you're on duty, make sure you find one of them and say good morning.  Stand in the hallway in between classes.  Make yourself stand out!
  • Make teacher friends!  I'm lucky and several of my best friends from the MAT actually teach at my school.  It's great to be able to talk with them and know they know exactly what I'm talking about.  It's nice to have buddies at staff-development and faculty meetings, and someone to let me back in the building every time I lock myself out :)