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Helpful Tips for New Teachers

Try these helpful tips for new teachers to see what it important to prioritize as your enter this profession.

Your first year of teaching will be a whirlwind of excitement and a flood of information – it’s hard to figure out what to focus on and prioritize in that first year. 

Many teachers’ first year of teaching – especially the first few weeks – can be a blur from information overload. Typically, you are given information about your specific school, such as morning/afternoon duty, lunch procedures, grading systems, handbook information, and more. 

Try not to get overwhelmed, but just know it will be a lot coming at you. You can’t do it all, so here are some tips for new teachers on what to focus on in that first year. 

Tip 1: Focus On Your Content Area

In the faculty meetings before school starts, there will probably be a lot of discussion about subject-specific topics. Try to only focus on YOUR content area. If you teach science, you don’t need to write down or process everything that is discussed with the social studies department. 

You focus on yourself and your classes. Yes, you need to know other things going on in the school, but you don’t have to know subject-specific information that doesn’t apply to you. 

It seems like common sense, but when you’re in the moment, it can get overwhelming. Especially if you are the only one in your content area, like electives or clubs – focus on what is relevant to your content area. 

Tip 2: Focus on Relationships 

There is always a hot debate about whether you should go into class the first day and lay down the law or if you should ease your way in. This is really up to you; however, here is some advice on that. 

Deep and meaningful relationships with your students are what will carry you through the year. When you show your students you care about them, in most cases, they will respond much better to you. Every class and every student will be different, and you will figure out those classes and students – but remember those relationships. When your students know you care, it makes a big difference in how they behave in your class. 

Your teacher friends can turn into your friends for life. Choose carefully! Do you want to be associated with the negative teacher who complains about everyone and everything? Their negative attitude will most likely affect your mood. Your teacher friends will be the people you can lean on and people who truly understand your struggles. These friends can give you encouragement and advice when times get tough. They will be part of your support system

Find these people and hold onto them! They will be your biggest fans. 

Tip 3: Focus on Things You Can Control

The middle school environment is unlike any other, and things will constantly change. Schedules change, technology changes, assemblies happen, rules change, and more. These things can be stressful, so instead of focusing on the stress – focus on what you can control. 

This is difficult for a lot of teachers because we like to be in control of every situation, but that is something you might have to let go of. Flexibility and adaptability are some of the most important skills a teacher can have. If you focus on everything out of your control, you will drive yourself crazy. So, what can you control? You can control your mood, your response, your attitude, and your focus. 

Tip 4: Focus On Your Mental Health

One of the biggest tips for new teachers is: You have to focus on yourself. Teacher burnout is real. There are a lot of external factors that affect teacher burnout; however, if you focus on your mental health, you will be stronger in that battle. 

I’ve written before about teacher mental health strategies. You will be asked (or told) to do A LOT, but you have to learn how to prioritize what is most important. Teachers are in a continuous cycle of multitasking, and some of these tasks are just part of the job. 

Learn to prioritize extra things and determine if they are necessary and/or they are bringing you joy or stress. Find small things that bring you joy and prioritize those tasks. 

If it’s a short walk after school, eating a bowl of ice cream, kickboxing class, or whatever it is – make sure you are doing all you can to keep your mind in a good and safe place. Take my Self-Care Challenge to figure out how to fit self-care into your busy routine. 

In addition, there are plenty of mental health resources to help you stay on top of your mental health and manage stress: 

If you are reading this blog post and are in urgent need of emergency mental health care, please call your local emergency number (911 in North America) or reach out to the resources listed on this Get Help Now page from Better Help.

Tip 5: Focus On Who You Can Help You

Asking for help is not always everyone’s “go-to” response, but don’t try to reinvent the wheel. You never know; the teacher next door could have just dealt with the same issue, and they might be able to help. 

You’ll most likely have questions about technical programs, school procedures, student behaviour, and more. Don’t hesitate to ask for help! 

  • We are all teachers. 
  • We are in this profession because we have a heart for helping people. 

All teachers have been first-year teachers once, so they know where you are coming from. We have all made mistakes as teachers, time and time again. It is important to know what to do when you make a mistake – and when to ask for help. 

You’re not expected to know everything, and that’s what your fellow teachers are there for! 

Tip 6: Focus on Not Putting Too Much Pressure on Yourself

Things will NOT go perfectly. That’s something to keep in your mind, especially in your first year. 

  • Things will go wrong. 
  • They won’t go exactly as you planned. 
  • They may get changed completely. 

All of this is just part of being a teacher. As veteran teachers, we have all had those lessons that just did not work out and were not even close to how we planned, and that’s okay! At least you are trying something new. Administrators would, most of the time, rather see that you’re trying new things (even if they go wrong) than not trying anything at all. You will figure out what works and what doesn’t over time. 

The important thing is to not put too much pressure on yourself during this learning curve. We tell this to students all the time – just do your best! Putting pressure on yourself only hurts you. It might sound impossible, but remember, you’re doing a great job! If a lesson doesn’t work out – it’s not a failure; you are just learning how to make it better. 

Tip 7: Focus On Staying Organized

It might be easier said than done, but one of the essential tips for new teachers is: Try your best to stay organized. 

It gets tough when you’ve got a million different projects going on at one time; however, the more you can stay organized, the less stressed you’ll be. 

I want you to picture yourself in 2 scenarios:

  1. You sitting at your desk in your classroom before school starts. You have papers everywhere, somewhat in piles, of student work and your own. You have 4 coffee cups from the week around your desk. You have 12 tabs open on your computer. And students come into your room for the day. Remember the feeling you have. 
  2. You walk into your classroom before school and sit down at an organized desk. You know exactly where all the student work and your own is. You log onto your computer to see an organized list of the tasks you have for today. Students come in, and you are ready to greet them. 

Which scenario feels better? Sure, there are many who thrive in chaos, but when you have your room organized, it takes a little stress off your plate.  Is it always easy to stay organized during the school year? Absolutely not. But if you can carve out a few minutes during your planning period or at the end of the day to put everything where it goes – this will help your mind stay calm in the chaos. 

I’ve written many posts on how to stay organized in the classroom: 

If you can get a system of organization in place – one where you know exactly where to put things in a way that flows and makes sense, it makes your life easier when times get crazy. 

Tip 8: Focus on Using Planning Resources Available to You

As a new teacher, it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to planning your school year. You might know what the curriculum expectations should be and what lessons you need to teach throughout the year, but where do you start?  It can be very stressful when starting out and trying to plan your units and lessons, but it doesn’t have to be. 

I’ve assembled free long-range plans for grades 6 – 8, including teaching split-grade classes. In each plan, you’ll get an outline of what lessons you can teach, month by month, that include what your key focus areas should be, as well as a detailed breakdown of units for Language Arts, Science, Math, Social Studies, and much more. 

You can get your own FREE copy of these long range plans here.

Ultimately, out of these tips for new teachers, the best thing you can do is focus on your needs and your class. You will not be the same as everyone else, and that’s okay – sometimes, those are the best teachers. You don’t have to be like everyone else to be successful. 

Your first year will be a whirlwind, but remember why you became a teacher. Your love for your students is what comes first, and when they see that, they will know what a good teacher you are. 

Be excited about this journey! Sometimes the best adventures are the scariest. You’ve got this! The teacher community is always here for you! 

For more tips for new teachers, check out any of the links below: 

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