Are your knees knocking at the thought of walking into a classroom for the very first time this fall? Have no fear! We asked our friends on Facebook to share their best pearls of wisdom for new teachers, and they generously sent their inspiration, advice and need-to-know strategies. Think of them as your virtual mentors—like all teachers, we’re here to help one another succeed!
1. The 3 Cs: “Be CLEAR on your expectations for behavior and performance. Be CONSISTENT—follow through so students know what to expect from you as a teacher. Be COMPASSIONATE—show your students that you really care about them and want them to succeed.” —Oktobriana Idol
2. Management Matters: “Strong classroom management is the key to teaching. No matter how well you know the content, students can’t learn in a chaotic environment. The simplest way to achieve this is through routines and overplanning. Also, model the respect you want to receive.” —Janet Jennings Maxwell
3. Routines Are Your Friends: “They should be the first things that you teach!” —Mollie Ann Lucot
4. Flexibility Rules: “Relax. Be in control. Be prepared to be flexible!” —Emily Fern Barron
5. Wear Comfy Shoes: “Number 1: It’s all about relationships. If you make the students feel that you genuinely care about them, they’ll do what you ask and then some.
Number 2: The decorations on your walls don’t need to come from Teachers Supply stores, because the ones from Dollar Tree will do the job.
Number 3: Invest in a good pair of shoes that fit you well, because you’ll be on your feet all day.” —Mari Lyn Stangland
6. What Your Dad Says Is True: “Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance!” —April Brown
7. Your New Favorite Book: “Go out and purchase The First Days of School, by Harry Wong. You may not have the money to do it, but it’ll be the best life-saving purchase you’ll ever make in your teaching profession. Read it cover to cover and then implement!” —Amy Galloway
8. Don’t Forget to Leave: “Go home at the end of the day! Your work will still be there tomorrow.” —Kody Grisham Shepherd
9. Never Break a Promise: “Don’t promise a child something you’re not 100% sure you can come through on—they need to know you are trustworthy and that you mean what you say.” —Vivienne Thomson
10. You’re a Student Too: “You will learn twice as much as your kids do EVERY single day until the day you retire!” —Diann Strader
11. Learn From Everyone Around You: “Be kind and courteous to everyone who works at or visits your school. The support staff is essential to your job—and those older teachers down the hall might just be your closest allies in a pinch. Don’t dismiss their pearls of wisdom just because YOU haven’t been taught that way. Remember, they’re the ones who have been at this all this time. Be a sponge.” —Nadine Mendez Heifert
12. Try to Grow Every Day: “Remember that this is one of the only professions that expects us to be perfect with little to no on-the-job training. You can eventually change lives, but your first year is growth. Find a few strong, positive teachers on your campus and observe, observe, observe. Treat every kid like your own—because someone loves him or her more than anything, no matter how they push your buttons. There’s probably a reason why they push buttons in the first place that has nothing to do with you. Don’t take unruly behavior personally. Like Covey says, ‘seek first to understand…’“ —Carissa Hairrell
13. Leader of the Pack: “You are the lead dog and your students are your team waiting to run the big race.” —Susan A. Smith
14. It’s Okay to Have Fun: “Don’t be afraid to laugh. I was talking to a friend of mine who is a teacher and she said (in April) that is was the first time she actually laughed in her class. If you aren’t having fun, neither are the students. But also classroom management is key. Be tough in the beginning because you can always get softer. It is hard to go the other way around.” —April Nelson
15. This Isn’t Practice Anymore: “What they taught you in college does not prepare you for the real classroom. Be prepared for anything to happen and be flexible and understanding when it does!”—Teresa Taylor
16. Help Is Always Available: “Don’t be afraid to ask for it.” —Beth Fitts Stone
17. School Is Just a Part: “You are only a one part of their lives and they won’t know how important a part for many, many years.” —Lynda Ballam
18. Let Students Have a Voice: “Invite them to help in goal setting. Don’t be afraid to let them have choices. Have thick skin.” —Dan Heding
19. Have Faith in Yourself: “You can handle this.” —Dedee Cline
20. You’re Guarding Treasure: “Remember that parents are sending their most prized possessions. They are not hiding any others at home. They are sending their best. Respect that.” —Lyn Atkins