When I started teaching four years ago, I was one of a handful of new teachers in a small school that experienced high teacher turnover. We new teachers had to figure it out as we went along but were lucky to have a handful of veteran teachers for support. I remember more experienced educators telling me that most teachers don’t really feel like they have it together until year three, and that year four is really when the magic happens.
Having now completed four years in the classroom, I can say that year four is amazing. But I can also say there are some things I wish veteran teachers had told me back in year one.
While I will not be in the classroom myself this year, here’s what I would tell new teachers starting their careers in education.
Veteran teachers will tell you that teaching today is very different than it was twenty years ago, especially when it comes to student and parent behavior. Let this be reassuring on your tough days. Everyone is struggling, so it’s not just because you are new. But don’t let this cause you to doubt the field you have chosen. While you may not be living the glory days of education, you are going to have so many great moments in your classroom and you deserve to enjoy them.
Don’t compare yourself to veteran teachers, learn from them! If you find yourself feeling frustrated because you seem to be scrambling to get everything done while your coworkers have it all together, stop and remember that they will have more planning time in their day because they have years of lesson plans to reuse and modify. Their classroom management will be better because they’ve refined their routines. As you accumulate experience and supplies your lesson planning will become easier and stronger.
Fortunately, you don’t have to do this alone. Reach out to your mentor teachers for resources like tried and true lesson plans or classroom management tips. If you don’t have someone in your school who you can go to, consider joining an online group for teachers like the CLASS Learning Community. There you will find many seasoned educators who are passionate about sharing their knowledge and supporting new teachers.
Even the most experienced teacher will have weeks that they fall behind and need to catch up. School years are unpredictable, and every class has a different set of needs. You may need to adjust your pace. This is normal and you are not alone!
I remember when I was fresh out of college and prepping my classroom I was totally overwhelmed by the beautiful classrooms I saw on Pinterest. But it’s good to keep your room simple. Personal touches make your environment more like home, but don’t spend six hours on your Saturday making a bulletin board if your lesson plans are not finished. Ultimately you will have a better day if your day is planned and you are rested than if your borders are on theme.A note on classroom environment: it is important that your classroom environment serves a specific purpose. Consider thinking about whether it’s more beneficial to find the perfect theme for a room, or ensuring that your space reflects elements from each of your students’ cultures? Your students will feel more welcome and at home if they see themselves represented in the space rather than having decor that is on trend.
Nothing stung more than hearing “well, they don’t act that way for me” after asking a more experienced coworker or administrator for classroom management tips. And sure—a veteran teacher probably (or at least hopefully) has better classroom management than you. They should! They have more experience! But even good teachers, and students, have bad days. Kids will occasionally act out for anyone, it’s not just you.
My first year teaching I was terrified to ever sit down. Cut to my fourth year when there were days that I literally taught in a throne. This job is demanding, so honor your body. Sometimes that means sitting and teaching the lesson in a way that allows for you to slow down and get through your day more comfortably.
I've met teachers who are adamant that they don’t care if the students like them, they just want them to learn. I’m skeptical. While I’m not offended if a student doesn’t like me, I know that children learn better from people they trust and respect. Having positive interactions with students will make your day infinitely easier and enjoyable.
People, veteran teachers included, will refer to education as a calling, but this is often a way of saying you’re about to do something pretty important without much reward. If you feel like you have a higher calling to teach, that’s great! But if you view teaching as a job, that’s okay too. You can be an amazing teacher without dedicating all aspects of your life to your work.
With the great resignation in full swing, it may seem like more people are talking about leaving education than joining. But if you are joining the field this year for the first time, I am so excited for you! Despite its challenges and what people may say, being an educator is a rewarding experience. We hope to hear about your year in the CLASS Learning Community!
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Setting up a classroom for a new school year can be exciting! It’s hard not to get excited at the prospect of a fresh start. But that doesn’t mean you always know what’s best to do. How do you set up the classroom to facilitate a successful year?
In today’s episode, you’ll hear from Alisha Saunders-Wilson, a Teachstone CLASS® Specialist who has experience coaching other teachers in many things, including setting up classrooms. Listen in as she and Kate discuss Classroom Organization, Behavior Management, what materials to put out and when to rotate them, and what to do when materials are sparse.
As you know, CLASS® is a tool that captures teacher-student interactions. When it comes to the dimension Concept Development, the focus is on the method the teacher uses to provide instruction in the classroom. While the interactions are what get measured with CLASS, as a teacher you can plan for Concept Development to be more intentionally woven throughout your lessons.
Let’s look closer at how to do this.
In this episode of Impacting the Classroom, our host Marnetta Larrimer talks to Dr. Daryl Greenfield of the University of Miami and Teachstone's own Veronica Fernandez. They discuss research on the importance of science in early education and how opportunities to explore the wonder of science with children are everywhere--even if you are not a scientist yourself.
Our guests had so much to share that we didn't have time to fit it all in one episode! You can read the extended version of the podcast in the transcript below.
Dr. Greenfield passed on a number of resources for educators, administrators, and parents interested in learning more about science education in the early years. You can check them out here:
The frameworks that power great interactions with children can be applied to relationships with our coworkers. In our webinar Staying In-Sync: Creating Positive Interactions Between Teachers, panelists Kate Cline, Professional Services Manager at Teachstone, and Deidre Harris, Educational Consultant at Team Agreements, led a lively discussion about how to foster healthy relationships among your staff. They identified a few key areas that make up the foundation of this work. Let’s get into it!