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January 24, 2017

Rhonda’s Pearls of Wisdom for New Teachers

By Rhonda Stewart
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    The first few months inside of a classroom can be an emotional roller coaster for a new teacher, filled with a tremendous number of questions about classroom management, time management, lesson planning, parent communication, and observations and evaluations from administrators just to name a few. I wanted this post to be a check-in of sorts; a moment to ask, “How’s the year going for you?”

    Please know that you are not alone — help is on the way! Here are my “pearls of wisdom” to address some of your concerns:

    Pearls of Wisdom #1: Use Your Mentor

    Take complete and full advantage of your mentor's expertise to assist you in all areas of becoming acclimated at your school. By this time, you should be fully aware of the basic school procedures such as how to order supplies, emergency protocol in the building, calling in an absence, and when lesson plans are due.

    Your mentor can also be extremely beneficial when you are preparing for your first observation. When planning for your observation have your lesson plan ready. Your mentor will be able to examine your lesson and help you flesh out areas that may need some tweaking. It's likely you feel very comfortable with your mentor. If so, try videotaping a lesson for the two of you to discuss.

    After the observation, take a look at your results with your mentor and identify which areas to work on for improvement. Set achievable goals. Examine the criteria from the observational tool used in your district. Whether it is the Danielson, the McCREL model, or another one altogether, use your evaluation tool to guide your instruction. Remember the role of your mentor is to assist you in becoming an important part of the school staff — so that you can return for year two!

    Pearls of Wisdom #2: Form Relationships

    During those first few days/weeks of school, your mentor will be instrumental in introducing you to staff members, but it is up to you to develop relationships with your colleagues. For social reasons, seeking out other first-timers will give you the emotional support you need when sharing moments of struggle. Someone who is in the same boat as you will easily understand your frustration.

    For curriculum support, you want to be able to develop professional relationships with the colleagues on your grade level and or curriculum area. This will help with lesson planning and gathering resources to support your teaching. Having colleagues who you are able to bounce ideas off of will help take the burden and hardship out of planning. Bonus: by doing this, you are also working on developing professional relationships with your colleagues.

     

     

    Pearls of Wisdom #3: Class Management

    Please realize that developing your classroom management style takes time. This will be an area that you will reevaluate and reassess by not only looking at your students’ behavior, but yours as well.

    Try the 3 “B” s (Be Consistent, Be Fair and Be Flexible):

    • Be Consistent — Model and reinforce the behavior you want to see in your students. Whatever system you have in place, make sure that the expectations are clear. Positive reinforcement goes a long way. (Praise and reward) 

    • Be Fair — It is important that students feel that the rules apply to everyone in the class. I know that this can be difficult at times, but it will make your life easier in the long run. Remember to refer to class procedures and routines for your classroom. If needed, call for a class meeting to get everyone on the same page.

    • Be Flexible — If something is not working, do not be afraid to adjust it. I was having a conversation with my mentee. She had some concerns about the seating arrangements/floor plan in her room and the impact it was having on her instruction. She had rearranged the seats earlier in the morning and was still noticing some negative behavior. During our planning time, we discussed what she wanted to have happen in the classroom — the desired behavior that she wanted to have consistently exist in the classroom. After examining her classroom and listening to her concerns, we concluded that the solution was to change the seating again. We discussed the “hot spots” and “buffers” in the room. After seeing the new setup, she was extremely hopeful. Day one of the new arrangement went well. This leads me to my next pearl . . .

    Pearls of Wisdom #4: Be Kind to Yourself

    There are going to be days when you will doubt your decision to become a teacher. It’s perfectly fine to feel this way. It’s the response to that feeling that makes all the difference. Bear in mind that tomorrow is a new opportunity to be better. You will grow into your “teacher shoes” learning from these moments of struggle. This is when support from the relationships you have nurtured at school will come in handy. I love to keep inspiration quotes in my classroom as a reminder to stay upbeat and positive. Don’t know what which quotes to use? Try this selection from Scholastic Teacher Printables! I am sure that you will find one to keep you in a positive state of mind!

    Last but not least…

    Pearls of Wisdom #5: Find Time for You 

    Teaching is a profession. It is just one facet of your life. It is very easy to get caught up in all of the paperwork and deadlines. It’s an unavoidable occupational habit that goes with the job. It is a must to find a balance between school and work.

    A happy teacher makes for a productive classroom. Make a commitment to yourself to do something fun and enjoyable. It can something as simple as finding a hobby, making a weekly pampering appointment, volunteering in your community, or spending time with friends and family. Be sure to take care of yourself to avoid teacher burnout!

    Still stuck on how to take time for yourself? Check out some tips from one of my previous post on staying healthy and happy!

    As we celebrate the New Year 2017, I wish all the best for an amazing year! Be sure to check out the resources at the new Scholastic.com to make your teaching life easier!

     

    The first few months inside of a classroom can be an emotional roller coaster for a new teacher, filled with a tremendous number of questions about classroom management, time management, lesson planning, parent communication, and observations and evaluations from administrators just to name a few. I wanted this post to be a check-in of sorts; a moment to ask, “How’s the year going for you?”

    Please know that you are not alone — help is on the way! Here are my “pearls of wisdom” to address some of your concerns:

    Pearls of Wisdom #1: Use Your Mentor

    Take complete and full advantage of your mentor's expertise to assist you in all areas of becoming acclimated at your school. By this time, you should be fully aware of the basic school procedures such as how to order supplies, emergency protocol in the building, calling in an absence, and when lesson plans are due.

    Your mentor can also be extremely beneficial when you are preparing for your first observation. When planning for your observation have your lesson plan ready. Your mentor will be able to examine your lesson and help you flesh out areas that may need some tweaking. It's likely you feel very comfortable with your mentor. If so, try videotaping a lesson for the two of you to discuss.

    After the observation, take a look at your results with your mentor and identify which areas to work on for improvement. Set achievable goals. Examine the criteria from the observational tool used in your district. Whether it is the Danielson, the McCREL model, or another one altogether, use your evaluation tool to guide your instruction. Remember the role of your mentor is to assist you in becoming an important part of the school staff — so that you can return for year two!

    Pearls of Wisdom #2: Form Relationships

    During those first few days/weeks of school, your mentor will be instrumental in introducing you to staff members, but it is up to you to develop relationships with your colleagues. For social reasons, seeking out other first-timers will give you the emotional support you need when sharing moments of struggle. Someone who is in the same boat as you will easily understand your frustration.

    For curriculum support, you want to be able to develop professional relationships with the colleagues on your grade level and or curriculum area. This will help with lesson planning and gathering resources to support your teaching. Having colleagues who you are able to bounce ideas off of will help take the burden and hardship out of planning. Bonus: by doing this, you are also working on developing professional relationships with your colleagues.

     

     

    Pearls of Wisdom #3: Class Management

    Please realize that developing your classroom management style takes time. This will be an area that you will reevaluate and reassess by not only looking at your students’ behavior, but yours as well.

    Try the 3 “B” s (Be Consistent, Be Fair and Be Flexible):

    • Be Consistent — Model and reinforce the behavior you want to see in your students. Whatever system you have in place, make sure that the expectations are clear. Positive reinforcement goes a long way. (Praise and reward) 

    • Be Fair — It is important that students feel that the rules apply to everyone in the class. I know that this can be difficult at times, but it will make your life easier in the long run. Remember to refer to class procedures and routines for your classroom. If needed, call for a class meeting to get everyone on the same page.

    • Be Flexible — If something is not working, do not be afraid to adjust it. I was having a conversation with my mentee. She had some concerns about the seating arrangements/floor plan in her room and the impact it was having on her instruction. She had rearranged the seats earlier in the morning and was still noticing some negative behavior. During our planning time, we discussed what she wanted to have happen in the classroom — the desired behavior that she wanted to have consistently exist in the classroom. After examining her classroom and listening to her concerns, we concluded that the solution was to change the seating again. We discussed the “hot spots” and “buffers” in the room. After seeing the new setup, she was extremely hopeful. Day one of the new arrangement went well. This leads me to my next pearl . . .

    Pearls of Wisdom #4: Be Kind to Yourself

    There are going to be days when you will doubt your decision to become a teacher. It’s perfectly fine to feel this way. It’s the response to that feeling that makes all the difference. Bear in mind that tomorrow is a new opportunity to be better. You will grow into your “teacher shoes” learning from these moments of struggle. This is when support from the relationships you have nurtured at school will come in handy. I love to keep inspiration quotes in my classroom as a reminder to stay upbeat and positive. Don’t know what which quotes to use? Try this selection from Scholastic Teacher Printables! I am sure that you will find one to keep you in a positive state of mind!

    Last but not least…

    Pearls of Wisdom #5: Find Time for You 

    Teaching is a profession. It is just one facet of your life. It is very easy to get caught up in all of the paperwork and deadlines. It’s an unavoidable occupational habit that goes with the job. It is a must to find a balance between school and work.

    A happy teacher makes for a productive classroom. Make a commitment to yourself to do something fun and enjoyable. It can something as simple as finding a hobby, making a weekly pampering appointment, volunteering in your community, or spending time with friends and family. Be sure to take care of yourself to avoid teacher burnout!

    Still stuck on how to take time for yourself? Check out some tips from one of my previous post on staying healthy and happy!

    As we celebrate the New Year 2017, I wish all the best for an amazing year! Be sure to check out the resources at the new Scholastic.com to make your teaching life easier!

     

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