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New Teachers: Preparing, Planning, and Building Support Systems

To set the stage for a successful first year of teaching, it’s important to do some advance planning and preparation. We’ve collected a variety of resources to help new teachers start the year off right.

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Graphic of calendar, pen, and other planning tools

Prepare for the First Days

In "Back to School: Preparing for Day One," Rebecca Alber provides six tips for helping both new teachers arrive for the first day of school rested, relaxed, and ready. Want more tips? Read veteran teacher Lisa Mims’s post, "You Only Get One First Day of School," for additional guidance. It's helpful to spend some time thinking about the tone you'd like to set in your classroom as the foundation for your classroom routines. To help, high school teacher Jose Vilson offers three handy shortcuts in his "Cheat Sheet for the First Days of School."

Review Planning and Time-Management Tips

Maia Heyck explains how to get started with weekly planning in "7-Step Prep: Make a Weekly Plan for YOU!" Weekly planners, whether digital or handwritten, can help you get a handle on your weekly tasks. Feeling short on time? Also from Heyck, "5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Non-Teaching Time" explores helpful strategies to squeeze a few extra minutes back into your day.

Build a Personal Learning Network

How to Get Started

A personal learning network (PLN) can help connect new teachers to mentors, resources, and support. Tom Whitby, a 40-year veteran of the teaching profession, offers some basic, practical wisdom about what a PLN is and how to get one in "How Do I Get a PLN?" Also explore Lisa Dabbs’s "5 Tips for New Teachers to Become Connected Educators." For more resources from Connected Educator Month, Edutopia has compiled a big list of CEM resources.

Tools That Can Help

Social-media and curation tools can be valuable avenues for discovering and sharing content and making meaningful connections. Read "How to Use Twitter to Grow Your PLN" by Betty Ray, for some tips on getting started with Twitter. Not sure about the value of Twitter in education? VideoAmy’s "Five-Minute Film Festival: Twitter in Education" makes a strong case and is a source of useful guidance. Beth Holland has written a useful review of other curation and connection tools in "Tools for Professional Learning: Curate, Share, Connect."

Consider joining New Teacher Chat (#ntchat) on Twitter every Wednesday. Learn more about #ntchat from founder Lisa Dabbs in "New Teacher Chat #ntchat," on her blog.

The Importance of Collaboration

Collaboration can help new teachers avoid isolation and find sources of support. For more on the how (and why), check out the following posts:

Take Care of Yourself

What does the research say? "In Teacher Burnout: What Are the Warning Signs?" Maurice Elias discusses some of the factors that are most likely to lead to teacher burnout and also catalogs some warning signs that you can check yourself against. If you find you are at risk, consider some of the following strategies to help you get back on course:

Teachers who develop social-emotional competencies may be less likely to experience burnout. In "Why Teachers Need Social-Emotional Skills" from Greater Good, Vicki Zakrzewski offers some suggestions on how to develop these skills.

Additional Resources

Looking for additional resources that support new teachers? Visit the "Resources Toolkit for New Teachers" for other curated guides, check out all of Edutopia’s content on the New Teachers page, and participate in discussions for new teachers in Edutopia’s community.

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