Social & Emotional Learning (SEL)

Tips for New Teachers: Advice for Those First Years

Teachers-in-training at the Boston Teacher Residency offer words of wisdom from the front lines.

November 15, 2007

We asked participants in Boston's teacher-preparation program, "What's the most important thing you would advise a new teacher to do?" Here are some of their responses. Add your own comments below.

Credit: Gregory Cherin

Timothy DiMario

Do not underestimate the power of personal relationships, not only in terms of management but also in terms of motivating students to learn in and out of the classroom. You have to be able to read students and know why they're behaving the way they are, and the only way you would know that is to have a personal relationship with them. When you get that personal relationship, you begin to understand why students act out in class and why students don't do homework, and then you can develop more applicable strategies.

Credit: Grace Rubenstein

Jason Tout

Fall in love with your mistakes. You're going to make them, so know that you need to embrace them and love them and learn from them.

Credit: Gregory Cherin

Wendy Guey

It's really important to constantly listen to your students. That may mean not directly listening to comments they say, but, rather, looking at their work and using that to inform your instruction. The needs of the students are continually changing, so it's critical for us to be cognizant of that and really be aware of how we can better accommodate their needs.

Credit: Grace Rubenstein

Frances Bean

Get as much sleep as possible, and meditate. Have a real practice that gives you equanimity and balance to respond to the demands of finessing relationships and time.

Credit: Gregory Cherin

Nadirah Muhammad

First, definitely have breakfast -- have something in your stomach to start the day. You just need to have that energy keeping you going throughout the first half of the day. Second, really build those relationships with your students without jeopardizing your role as an authority figure in the classroom. You need to have a balance there.

Credit: Gregory Cherin

Derek Allen

Building relationships with the kids is probably one of the most important things you can do as a teacher, because when you have that relationship with your students, it's easier for them to learn and it's easier for you to teach. I don't mean to be a friend; I mean to be someone they see as part of their life. And for you, see them as part of your life.

Credit: Gregory Cherin

Amelia Lopes

Have a mentor. You get to learn a lot. You should take away some ideas from the mentor and integrate them into your own way of doing things. In other words, you need to be yourself when you work with students. Don't try to be exactly like your mentor.

Credit: Grace Rubenstein

Eric Roberts

Prepare as if you are in the Boston Teacher Residency program every single day. Get ready for everything -- from the obvious, such as lesson planning, all the way down to what you require in the morning, whether it's coffee or breakfast or the photocopies you may need, so that there are no surprises and there is no downtime during the day. Preparation, to me, is the key to getting through the day smoothly and successfully.

Credit: Grace Rubenstein

Adele Clement

My three words of advice: relationships, relationships, relationships. They're key with the students, with your colleagues, with the administration, with the copy machine.

Add your own response. What's the most important thing you would advise a new teacher to do?

Grace Rubenstein is a senior producer at Edutopia.

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