Looking for guidance as they start their first years in the classroom, many new teachers turn to Twitter for advice.
In the weeks leading up to the beginning of the school year, veteran educators have shared their first day tips, self-care strategies, and suggestions for building strong relationships with students using hashtags like #ntchat (New Teacher Chat) and #newteacherjourney.
See also: Supporting New Teachers to Build a PLN
Susan Jachymiak, a 4th grade teacher about to start her first year at a Catholic school in Oak Forest, Ill., started the hashtag #newteacherjourney this June.
“When you’re new, there’s just a lot of things that you don’t think about that come up,” she said. She hopes the biweekly chat can be a place for new teachers to “discuss and get support and advice.”
Education Week collected some tips educators shared with the hashtag and in other chats for new teachers, as well as advice for rookies from our archives:
1. Develop routines on day one.
A3: we will start the year talking about and mutually deciding how our classroom culture will feel, look, and be demonstrated. First week is all about getting to know each other and setting the stage for the year! #NewTeacherJourney
— Kelly Rauch (@MsRauchScience) August 13, 2018
Bad habits are hard to break, say Joelle Barreau and Shaniqua McShan, two teachers at Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C.
“Once you have a vision of how your classroom should run and you have a vision of things that you do not want to see—and actions you’ll take if you see them—you want to make sure that your rule is uniform across the board,” said Barreau.
Education Week spoke with Barreau and McShan last year, as they were about to start their second year in classroom. See their other advice for new teachers here.
Write out action/reaction and procedures for your classroom. Can I go to the bathroom? Can I sharpen my pencil? Do you have lined paper? Can I charge my device? These will help you think through routines and class norms! Consistency is key!
— Mari Venturino (@MsVenturino) July 11, 2018
2. Connect with students on a personal level.
A3: Students can sense authenticity a mile away. Tell them something about your real self. What you fear, love, what you wish for them. Engage them in discussions about how the class SHOULD operate. Allow them to set their goals for growth. #newteacherjourney
— Jon Resendez (@Mrjonresendez) August 13, 2018
A3. Jump right in with asking students to tell you about them. Then actually read their responses and follow up. Listen to the music they like. Watch a game of one of their favorite sports teams. Read their favorite books. #newteacherjourney
— Jordan Hohm (@jordanhohm) August 13, 2018
Connecting with students also requires teachers to overcome their implicit biases, writes Melissa Garcia, a high school English teacher in Weslaco, Texas.
“Research has shown that before teachers even have a conversation with a student, they have already formulated a number of opinions based on that student’s race, appearance, and other factors—and begun to form a certain set of expectations,” she writes. Read more about how she works to combat these biases in her classroom.
3. Know that you won’t have it all figured out right away—and that’s OK.
New teachers should expect that things will go wrong and that they’ll need to readjust and grow, writes Brett Bohstedt, a 4th grade teacher in Yuma, Ariz.
“In teaching, it’s essential to view failure not as part of the process, but the process,” he writes. “It’s very easy to convince yourself that you’re an expert right away, or that you have to know every answer to every question.” See more of his advice for new teachers here.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It doesn’t make you look weak; it shows you care about improving and helping the kids.
— Wendy Roberts (@WendyFafata) July 11, 2018
Find ways to reflect on your practice, writes Robert Kolar, a high school teacher in San Antonio, Texas.
One option is journaling. When facing a problem, teachers can ask themselves, “What about the event concerned you? What worked well in your attempt to resolve? And most important, how can you make it better?” he writes. “A journal is not just an outlet, but a reflection and reference for your teaching.”
4. Seek out mentorship opportunities.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your first year you won’t have all the answers and even after 30 yrs you will still look to your team, coaches and admin for help. We learn best from our colleagues so use them. Also, don’t be afraid to take risk and share your own ideas!
— Jennifer Beckman (@Jbeckman8313) July 11, 2018
“A new teacher will keep on encountering “firsts"—year-end exams, student crises, college-visit season—and will need ongoing insights from more experienced colleagues as the dynamic nature of the job unfolds,” writes Janine McIlheran, a veteran teacher in Dumfries, Va.
She offers examples of the type of guidance new teachers need, and she suggests how teachers can support each other. Read more here.
5. Find a way to unwind.
New teachers will feel overwhelmed at times—it’s unavoidable, said McShan, from Dunbar High School. “When you do something for the first time, it takes so much time. It just does,” she said.
Find self-care routines that work for you, she advised—whether that be spending time with family and friends, or playing with your dog. “You have to learn to say, ‘I’m going home,’” said McShan. “If you don’t take care of yourself, you are not your best teacher.”
A4: Self care is essential. Stay focused on your why, but also set boundaries (e.g. leaving school by a certain time & not taking work with you, going to bed by a certain time, making time for joyful movement, etc.) to ensure that you can accomplish your why. #newteacherjourney
— Tonya Gilchrist (@Mrs_Gilchrist) August 13, 2018
Q4: I had all of my students last year write me a “words of wisdom” letter. They are in my desk drawer to reflect on when things are tough. Their words are amazing and beautiful. #NewTeacherJourney
— Kelly Rauch (@MsRauchScience) August 13, 2018
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.