Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Teacher Week: Teacher Talk Tuesday

Today's theme for Teacher Week is dedicated to NEW teachers (hello to any new teachers out there!).

Today's post is going to be called: The top 5 things I wish I had known my first year of teaching (or maybe I should call it the top 5 things I should have listened to for my first of teaching).

Let's begin...

No matter how involved or uninvolved the parents are at your school (I've had both), stay in touch about everything. Keep them in the loop. If there child is having trouble in class (behavior or academic), let the parent know ASAP. Parents like to know up front, not two weeks down the road when the problem has become worse. And most importantly, document every conversation you have with a parent, and save all emails. You never know when you will need it. I write down every conversation I ever have with a parent, even if it's for 2 minutes in the hallway at school. It can never hurt to log too much information.

It's okay if the kids don't love you...
Don't get me wrong. I want the kids to learn and have fun and enjoy my class, but I'm now okay with it if they don't love me. My first year was a disaster for a variety of reasons. One thing that could have helped my year was if I had started my year without feeling the need to have my students love me. I wanted to be fun. I wanted them to love my class. And somehow in my effort to achieve those goals, my kids began to walk all over me. I now start my year with high expectations of my kids (again, behavior expectations and academic expectations), and my kids know consequences right off the bat. I am consistent with my behavior plans. My first year I let A LOT slide my first few months because I wanted to be liked by the kids. This made the rest of the year much more difficult. Now, I start the year strong, and even if those first few weeks are tough, it makes the rest of your year so much simpler.

Always keep chapstick, Excedrin, lotion, and some chocolate in your desk...
Do I really need to say more? I don't think so.

Have a designated spot for important papers and money...
Where I taught in VA, we had to collect something called Federal cards every year. These were a BIG Deal because if you had a student whose parent worked on a military base (civilian worker or military) the school got money somehow. Not sure of all the details. but think: huge, major deal. My 2nd year of teaching, I lost all my returned cards before turning them into the office. I turned my room upside down searching for them, I cried and cried, but they were gone. I caused some major stress for one of our office workers, and it was bad. Like, really really bad. Think of it along the lines of losing a child on a field trip (well...almost). I ended up calling every parent to come back in and fill out another one for me (a day before they were due in the central office). Since that year, I have made an effort to organize things in a way so that I can always find the super important things. I am not the best with staying neat and organized, but if you know where the most important things are, then you're golden.

(see? not organized an neat...I try...still learning)

Kids love read alouds. LOVE them. Do not neglect them in your schedule...
In all my college reading and literacy courses, we talked about the importance of read alouds. It models fluency, it provides chances for great questioning, it is wonderful in transition times....everything they told you about read alouds in college, it's all true. Especially in the upper grades. There is nothing like reading a great book with your children and laughing and crying together. It builds classroom community, and it makes you feel great when they all want to check out the book at the library when you've finished it. Read alouds may take up 15 priceless minutes in your day, but those are 15 minutes that are well spent. DO IT. (see yesterday's post for my favorite read alouds in 4th and 5th grade)


  1. Gotta love all of your tips!! I plan on participating in Blog Hoppin' but had Open House last night and meetings all day today. So, tonight should be less stressful!! My desk looked the same last night after Open House...it's my catch all!! Have a great day!

  2. haha, one year as I was cleaning out my desk at the end of the year I found 3 bottles of pain killer, 1 bottle of tums & 1 of pepto bismol! me thinks teaching makes me sick sometimes ;)

  3. Good advice and I strongly agree with the parent communication one. I think some people feel intimidated by parents sometimes...I know I have on more than one occasion.

    I meant to comment yesterday on your Meet the Teacher that I love, love, love the book Tuck Everlasting and I can remember reading it in about the 4th or 5th grade...it's one of the books that made me like to read.

  4. I'm glad you posted that it's okay if your students don't love you. That's a hard one for me, but you're right. Sometimes my students aren't very happy with me at first-especially when they figure out I'm not going to let them get away with much. However, they'll come to appreciate your expectations.


  5. Hope you have an awesome first day at school!!!! :)

  6. Rachel- Thanks for the comments on the blog! I agree always Excedrin in the desk..must be a TRUE sign of a teacher! I'm following now! Thanks- Sarah


  7. HA, I have a Costco sized bottle of Excedrin in my desk...I really need a lock so the kids don't accidentally get into it ;)

  8. I am definitely bookmarking this post! I student teach later this year, so I have a feeling I am going to have quite an interesting road ahead of me. Thanks for the great advice!