How to Survive Your First Year of Teaching

Hi teacher friends,

I have been on the most major hiatus from my blog. I will be the first to admit it is because.... I am a first year teacher... *sigh*

I have been extremely busy (like most... no... all teachers out there) but I feel like this gave me the best idea ever for a blog post.... Surviving the first year of teaching. I, like all first year teachers, have been on an extreme learning curve this year and I don't want to let all this learning (at my expense of course) to go to waste. So here is my advice for surviving the first year of teaching.

1. Steal. Steal. Steal.

Ok, don't actually steal supplies from the work room, but do steal ideas from other teachers. These are the words of Harry Wong, author of the book, The First Days of School. I was able to watch a clip of him in college and my school implemented his program this year. I still remember him being on stage yelling "steal, steal, steal." Every time you see, hear, or feel something going right in another classroom, ask that teacher what she is doing. Don't worry... they will always tell you, and if they don't, you don't want their advice anyway (but seriously, I can't think of a single teacher who would be crazy enough not to share their ideas).

Whenever you get a chance... you know, in your free time... go into other teachers' room and steal their ideas. You will always learn from every single teacher you watch. Trust me. Just get in there and start stealing.

2. Procedures. Procedures. Procedures.

I will be 100% honest and say I learned this one the hard way. You see, I spent the first few weeks before school trying to organize my room, decorate every flippin corner of it, plan every single minute of the first few days of school, and imagine how I would survive back to school night. All are very important, but I didn't really know what my procedures would be for each part of the day...

How would I make transitions quick and effective? How would I run my math rotations? Could I even handle math rotations? How should they write their names on their papers? How should they turn homework in? What should they do first thing in the morning?

Don't get me wrong, all these things crossed through my mind, but I just kind of figured that they would eventually evolve. Not the case. Don't worry about your room being decorated perfectly, or how parents will feel about you on back to school night (just smile and show how flippin excited you are to be teaching their child). But do think about how you want your day to run, how you will transition, how your math will look, how kids will walk in the hall, how they should write their name on their papers, and exactly what they should be doing when they walk into class in the morning. You won't regret it.

3. Communication. Communication. Communication.

I committed to two things this year and they are the two best things I ever did. I send home a weekly newsletter every.single.week. and I send home progress reports every.single.week. I will be honest and say that the progress reports kill me because I have to type them up myself every week and I have to really stay up to date on my grading, but parents love it! They always know exactly what their learner is missing or behind in every.single.week. and there are no surprises come time for final grades. And that means no frustrated parents or students because they always know what is going on.

My newsletter also holds me accountable because I always input what we are learning in all subjects, all the homework, and any special events. It makes me stick with the plan because it is what learners and their parents are expecting.

4. Join TeachersPayTeachers

When I say this, I don't mean that you should join to buy other teachers' products (but keep doing that if you already are because there is amazing stuff on there). I'm saying you need to get on there and sell. It will change your life because it will make you really think about every single thing you create because you want other teachers to use it because it is good. I don't know how to explain it so just do it. Seriously. Have you done it yet?

5. Learn. Learn. Learn.

Just forgive yourself right now because you are going to make mistakes. I know that people always told me that and I was either like "No, I will be the best first year teacher ever," or "Great, I will probably make the worst mistakes ever." Neither one happened.

I made small mistakes here and there (see procedures for a perfect example) and they didn't end my career. Most of my mistakes were things that only bothered me and that I wish I wouldn't have done. All you can do is learn. Every time I do something that doesn't work (or even that does work) I try to write it down on my lesson plans because it will only make me that much more prepared for my second year of teaching.

6. Enjoy. Enjoy. Enjoy

Everyone always talks about how you just have to survive that first year of teaching, but I also remind myself to soak it all in because, if you think about it, you will never have a first year of teaching ever again. I will remember every single one of my students from this first year because of the influence they will have on my teaching career for the rest of my life.


That's all my brain and life has time for right now, but I'm so glad I finally documented something from this crazy first year of teaching and I hoped it help all you first year teachers (or maybe even, not first year teachers who needed a small reminder) out there.


Mrs. Cahill

1 comment

  1. LOOOOOVE this! How true??! And am SO impressed with all that you're doing. Weekly progress reports? Dang girl!! Thanks so much for sharing!