George Lucas Educational Foundation
New Teachers

15 Tips from Veteran Educators for Thriving in the First Year

February 13, 2015

New teachers, you’re not alone. The veteran educators in our community shared their best advice for thriving in the first year of teaching. The tips range from preparedness to self-care to affirmations for even the hardest of teaching days.

Each of the tips is credited to the educator who offered it. To see all the tips, visit our Facebook page.

Expect the Unexpected

Do not be afraid to deviate from the normal routine. Some of the best teaching moments come from unexpected things. —Joyce Ritchie

Write lesson plans with a pencil. Your day just might not go as planned! —Deanna Hempel Bullington

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Positive, Genuine Phone Calls Home Lift Everyone Up

I think my favorite advice is to call home when good things happen, not bad. It will take everyone by surprise, and make everyone feel good. This is especially important when a kid may have been struggling—finding something to praise goes a long way to reinforcing positive behavior and further progress. —Whitney Hoffman

Catch the kids doing something good. Use hit and run phone calls to parents to say their child really did something special today—“just thought you should know.” Keep it less than a minute. —John Brodemus

Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself

Get a flu shot, take your vitamins, get as much sleep as you can... you’ll be sick by your second week of the school year. —Joan Renee Moore

Know when to take a day off. Don’t get so overwhelmed that you forget why you chose to be a teacher. —Angela McGehee-Lee McConnell

Remember That You’re Learning, Too

No matter how much you know, there will always be more to learn, so be open to the opportunity to learn from anyone! —Sue Bruns Maiers

Forgive yourself your mistakes. Teachers never stop learning about what to do and what not to do. —Fiona Walker

Teaching Is All About Relationships

Show them you are human. Admit when you don’t know something. You are allowed to smile. —Sheila Zlochower Bernstein

Believe in yourself and your students [and] show that every day, all the time. Reflect but don’t take things personally. —Rebecca Toetz

It’s all about building relationships! Show respect for young people, prove to them that you are trustworthy by honoring your promises and following through with consequences... even when it’s inconvenient for you.... Believe in them wholly, maintain high standards, and expect students to attain them. —Elizabeth Wallace

Always be fair and treat kids with respect and don’t play favorites. Even the youngest kids know when you are and will react to it. —Diana Lefler-Molander

Don’t Try to Do This on Your Own

Teachers don’t work alone. Reach out to other teachers. —Ola Harrison

Suggestion: finding a coach/mentor should be #1! —Susan McCartney Anderson

You’re Changing Lives

If each year you get through to just one student, you will have changed more lives than many people do in their lifetime. —Amanda G.C. Clark

This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we've preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer's own.

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