- Don’t sweat the small stuff
This is definitely easier said than done. Sometimes the little things add up to big things and it can be really hard to let them go, but you gotta! Lesson didn’t go the way you hoped? Deep breath, let it go. Got a nasty parent email? Respond with sugary sweetness and let it go. You are doing your best and in spite of how you feel you are probably doing great. Try to let the little things roll off your back as much as possible. If you were doing something big and terribly wrong, your principal would have told you by now. Don’t sweat it unless they do.
2. Explore as many other classrooms as possible
Finding out what kind of classroom set up works best for you takes time, and experience. It’s unlikely that whatever you decided on on the first day of school is what’s going to stick. Pop in to some other teacher’s rooms and ask them about their set up. Some things will be out of the question for you, but it’s really the best way to learn the tricks of the trade.
- 2.1 Don’t spend all your money on decorations. Let the kids make that shit. It’s way more authentic and your money is better spent on wine and coffee anyways.
3. Find a great mentor
If you’re teaching in Ontario, or most other provinces I would imagine, a mentor will be assigned for your TIP program. Do what you can to make sure it’s a good one! Ask around at school about who had a great mentor and then see if you can also have that person as a mentor! Talk to your principal, and try to at least get someone who is teaching something similar and if at all possible AT ANOTHER SCHOOL. This is important for two reasons. 1. You get to visit another school and learn how they run things, learn tips and tricks from other teachers. 2. You will meet another principal and have networking opportunities. Principals are way more likely to hire teachers they already know. It would be stupid for them not to. Getting to know as many principals as possible is really important, even with seniority hiring.
4. Take breaks
You need them. They are not a luxury. Your classroom will not implode, you will not fail as a teacher, you will not get fired if you take an evening, a weekend or even a whole week off from doing school related things during non- school hours. Schools eat our lives. We live breathe, eat and sleep school. TAKE A BREAK. The best piece of advice I got in teachers college was at Christmas. DO NOT DO ANYTHING. No marking, no planning. Christmas break is for you to recharge and get your head back in the game.
5. Let the kids lead
Try all kinds of different lessons and see what THEY like best. You can tell it works because you won’t have to deal with behaviours, a million annoying questions, or anyone saying “I’m bored”. For me this year, that means tons of hands on STEM based activities. Also lots of media, YouTube art lessons, magic school bus science intros. They love to listen to the t.v., not so much to my voice. Don’t push through with what you think you are supposed to do. Your opinion doesn’t really matter, you’ll spend all your time fighting. It’s a waste of energy and time. Do what works, and keep trying different things until it does.
Image from: https://www.edutopia.org/article/6-traits-life-changing-teachers-betty-ray