How to Survive Your First Teaching Job if You Start After the First Day of School

September 19, 2017 No Comments

How to Survive Your First Teaching Job if You Start After the First Day of School

September 19, 2017 No Comments

I wasn’t hired for my first teaching job until September 21st.  School had already been in session for more than a month and I went into a classroom full of students who had only known the weird place known as “limbo” for the last few weeks.  It was chaos, to say the least.

No routines and procedures had been established.  There was no real behavior plan in place.  The teacher who was fulfilling the position up until that point was balancing between two jobs, so she her focus was on her new job as the instructional coach.  The students knew there was a new teacher coming, but they didn’t know when and they had no idea what to expect.

Then there was me, fresh out of college, begging for any school that would take me.  I had no real classroom experience outside of my college courses and student teaching.  I had no experience in third grade.  I didn’t know what to expect either.

Perhaps you, new teacher, are walking into a similar situation.

Let’s just say that my first year of teaching was a train wreck.  I wish could personally go apologize to every student in my classroom, as well as all of their parents.  Looking back now, seven years in, there are so many things I would do differently.

As desperate as you are to start your new teaching job — whether it’s a month after school starts, six months into the year, or 45 days before the last day of school — it’s important that you have a plan.  The students that you are inheriting have likely been in a state of transition leading up to your new place as their teacher, so they are probably craving some routine and consistency.  Your students NEED you, now more than ever, to be the guiding light for them.

Below, I’ve listed a few things I think will help you succeed in your new position:

1.  Establish routines and procedures for how things are done.  How will your students enter the classroom?  Where will they put their book bags?  How should they go about sharpening their pencils?  How do they ask questions? (Yes, don’t assume they know to raise their hand… they don’t.)  Don’t assume ANYTHING.  Have a clear, explicit procedure laid out for every single part of your day.  You don’t need to type it all out and give it to your students, but there should be a discussion about each of them.  If a student doesn’t follow the procedure, explain it again and have them do it correctly.  Hold them accountable.  Remember, these students have likely had no one to consistently telling them how to do things.  It is your job to tell them.

2.  Have a very clear and concise behavior management plan.  Have a set of classroom rules and follow them.  Make sure you’re aware with any school wide rules and expectations there might be before your start so that you can hold students your students accountable for those as well.  Talk with the principal about his or her expectations for handling behaviors in the classroom as opposed to sending them to the office.  In addition to making a plan on consequences for negative behavior, make an even better plan for rewarding positive behavior.  Your behavior management plan should focus on positive reinforcement, as well as teaching students how to replace inappropriate behaviors with the correct one.  This is something that I tweaked over and over again my first year.  Keep tweaking until you find something that works for you.  However, be sure that you maintain consistency.

3.  Find a mentor with whom you can be honest.  Depending on how your state handles new teachers, you will probably be assigned a teacher mentor.  Hopefully that person is caring, understanding, and able to guide you through your struggles and mishaps as a first year teaching.  If they are someone you feel like you cannot talk to, seek out other teacher friends.  Bottom line, you won’t get through this career without support!  Reach out to others and find someone you can trust.

4.  Be flexible.  You will plan a lesson that is too short and you have to find something else to do for the next 20 minutes.  You will have an awesome lesson that gets interrupted by an unexpected visitor.  Someone will throw up when you’re least expecting it, probably all over your math manipulatives.  Go with it.  Fake it until you make it.  Teaching is about people and people are unpredictable.  Being flexible with your plans is key.

5.  Forgive yourself.  You are going to mess up.  You are going to have bad days.  You are going to make the wrong decision.  Keep going.  The kids will forget about whatever it was by tomorrow and they will love you anyway.  Reflect on your mistakes and learn from them, but never dwell.

Truth is, your first year will probably be a train wreck anyway.  But now that you know better, you can do better.  Keep on keeping on, new teachers!  And, as always, if you ever need anything, don’t hesitate to reach out.  I’d love to hear from you!

sherylwoods

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  • Alex Loomis November 7, 2017 at 12:54 am

    Just moved to a new state in October because of my boyfriends job. I graduated last spring, and went into this year knowing that we would not be able to settle into our new town until much after school had already started. Having that in mind, I decided to substitute teach and teach online. On my first day of substitute teaching I was asked to consider interviewing for a fourth grade position. I have been on the fence about it, but after reading this post I feel like it could be a good opportunity still. Thank you for the insight! This is exactly the advice I needed.

  • Sheryl Woods November 7, 2017 at 4:28 am

    Your first year of teaching is hard whether you start at the beginning of the year or in the middle. It will be okay! Just find your support systems nd be easy on yourself. Good luck!

  • Kelsey Hayes January 4, 2018 at 9:33 pm

    When I came back to teaching in Louisville, I started my teaching job in January! It wasn't my first teaching job, which helped some, but all of this is SO true!

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    About Me

    Hi! My name is Sheryl and I am so thankful you've found your way to the TeacherLadyKY blog! I'm an elementary educator from Louisville, Kentucky who is passionate about building relationships and literacy skills with my students, as well as empowering teachers around me to be leaders and rockstars. I've taught everything from kindergarten to fifth grade and I can't wait to share my experiences with you! Enjoy! Read More

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    • I moved into my house in late June of 2012. As I was sitting on the porch, less than a week later, this black and white baby came running through my yard and up to me, eager for some loving. 
She was tiny for her breed - nearly 20 pounds underweight and basically a bag of bones. She was so dirty.  Kids from the neighborhood said they had no idea who she belonged to - she’d been running for a while now. I took her in the backyard and she became a part of our family almost immediately. 
It took her a while to trust us. She wouldn’t let us pick her up. She bolted out the door anytime it was open. Even to this day, she hated fireworks and thunderstorms, which gave her such anxiety that she’d pant, pace, and shake.  We had no idea how old she was,  but we knew she’d seen a lot in her years. She had been terribly abused and, with us, she found a new life of love. 
And she loved so deeply. After a while, she learned that there were plenty of pets, kisses, and treats to go around. She leaned into our sides when she wanted some attention. She begged for walks and car rides. The last seven years of her life were good - so good.  She loved us all, but her Grandpa Dennis Boyd especially. She made our family of puppies complete and we couldn’t imagine life before her. 
Our sweet Hallie Grace crossed the rainbow bridge this afternoon, joining our Annabelle. I will miss her, just like I deeply miss my Belle, but I take comfort in knowing that they are together. ❤️❤️❤️
    • A couple of months ago, I posted about how I’d be moving from fifth grade down to fourth. Well, things change!

This week I accepted an offer to serve as the Backpack Leader at Foster Heights Elementary in Nelson County. I am so thrilled for this position since it allows me to work with teachers and help them level up their skills, but also allows me to stay grounded in my first love: teaching. I will still be responsible for a group of students each day and focused on deep learning with them.

It is bittersweet leaving a school and a district that I love - but when I feel the need to jump, I jump.  I can’t wait to do amazing things with some amazing people in NCS! #npossible
    • A rare day in summer when my makeup is on and my hair is down.  I am absolutely loving these lazy, summer days, but I’m also excited about all of the professional learning that will be happening over the next two weeks.

I’ll admit - it’s hard for me to take a break. But when I do, I break HARD! Learning how to balance and make process, while still taking care of myself.

Enjoy your summer, teachers! You’ve deserve it!

#teacher #teachersofinstagram #teachersonsummerbreak #teacherlife #teachersummer #professionallearning
    • It’s true. You are only as good as the people with whom you surround yourself.
    • Anyone else read two books at once? I keep switching between the two of these. They both started out slower than I wanted, but are starting to pick up.

Brave, Not Perfect is about learning to combat your inner perfectionist and focusing on being brave instead.  It’s a powerful message that more people need to hear and take to heart, myself included.

Everything All At Once is the story of Lottie, whose very famous writer aunt recently passed away, leaving her with 24 letters that includes directions for accomplishing specific tasks. It’s starting to get really good!

#bookstagram #booksofinsta #bookstagrammer #bookstagramit #bravenotperfect #everythingallatonce #teachersofinstagram #summerreading #summerreadinglist #teachersonsummerbreak
    • Did you know that elephants like to give triceratopses piggy nose rides? *Not to scale.

@ktberry9515
    • Ten years ago, I brought a little hound puppy home from the Kentucky Humane Society after begging my mom for YEARS for a dog. I knew Annabelle was ours the moment she bit my ear.

From there, Annabelle ruled the house. She sat co-pilot in the car. She was the absolute best snuggler. She loved wearing clothes. She could smile bigger than any dog I’ve ever met. 
She was also a mess and a half. She stole food from wherever she could get it. She was jealous - of other dogs, of Justin, of my new nieces. She plopped herself in my lap anytime she could to claim her territory, but when she was mad at me, refused to turn her face to look at me.

She was the leader of the pack, the first of four. 
Today we had to do the hardest thing I, personally, have ever had to do. Having a dog as an adult is way different than having a dog as a kid. My heart is broken into a million pieces. Mama loves you, Belly girl.
    • I took a trip to the library yesterday and gobbled this one up in a couple of hours. I picked it from the shelf on its name alone and it did not fail to disappoint. Audacious is a novel written in verse from the perspective of a girl who has a knack for pushing the boundaries in every way.

It was a beautiful reminder of the beauty - and the chaos - that comes from walking the unknown, just because you felt like it.

@gsprendergast 
#audacious #audaciousbook #bookstagram #bookstagrammers #teachersofinstagram #teachersonsummerbreak #kentuckyteacher #teacherswhoread #youngadultreads #youngadultnovel #youngadultlit #yalit #ya #read #reader #readersofig
    • Summer reading book #2 is finished! This sweet book, the sequel to #therosieproject, failed to hold my attention as well as the first, but was still so perfect. Don is one of my absolute favorite characters, as cringeworthy as he is. I give #therosieeffect 4/5 stars!

Up next on my summer reading list is #bravenotperfect by @reshmasaujani.

#summerreading #summertime #teacherswhoread #teachersonsummerbreak #bookstagram #bookshelf #teachersofinstagram #teachersfollowteachers #stopteacherguilt

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    The TeacherLadyKY blog header and logo were designed by Sheryl, using fonts from A Primary Kind of Life and Brittney Murphy Design.  Clip art is courtesy of Irina Bandyk, whose Etsy shop is WatercolorCliparts.  The blog theme used is Emilia by Georgia Lou Studios.

     

     

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