YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL
You graduate college and are so excited to have your very own classroom where you’re the one deciding all the little details down to how you decorate, your style of teaching, and the assignments you give (kind of). You want to do both math & reading stations everyday, have classroom jobs from day one, and do weekly STEM projects. But guess what? You can’t do it all. Each year, try to implement 1-2 new things to add to your classroom. That way, you don’t feel the need to do all your teacher ideas at once because it’s not feasible and you won’t be able to do your best work if you’re juggling a million things.
HAVE A MENTOR TEACHER
In my first year of teaching, I was on a team with 2 other first year teachers & the other teacher on our team was new to the school. This was not the best because we didn’t have a teacher who could mentor us and be there for us. We all felt like we were running around with our heads cut off (this was also 2020 so….). If I were to go back, I would seek out a mentor teacher, even if on another team. Someone besides my principal, who could dedicate time to meet with me and be accessible to me on a regular basis.
REST IS CRUCIAL
My schedule during my first year of teaching looked like this:
5am Wake Up. 6:30am Leave the House. 6:45am Arrive to Work. Teach all day. 5pm (at the earliest) Leave Work. Spend a couple hours at home with my husband of 2 weeks. Do 2 more hours of Work. 9pm Go to bed. Repeat.
This got exhausting real quickly. I wasn’t implementing rest. I was trying to do a million things but was forgetting to take care of myself so I could be the best teacher, wife, daughter, friend, sister, etc. that I could be.
Rest isn’t a choice. It is necessary.
YOU MUST HAVE BOUNDARIES
You need time apart from school and school work. One thing I learned is that it’s best to not have my work email on my phone because parents of students & other staff members don’t have a problem with emailing you at 11pm. And if you see an email pop through, you’re going to be more likely to open it, read it, and responding, leaving you with doing work into the evening and not being able to spend that time with your loved ones. It’s okay to have an email from a parent wait until the next morning. You’re not a bad teacher for doing that. Parents should respect the fact that you’re setting aside time with your family and being intentional. At the beginning of the year, let your students’ families know your work hours and stick to them.
DON’T MAKE MORE WORK FOR YOURSELF
I had my third graders turn in every. single. thing they did. And it backfired. Because having them turn it in means I was looking at every. single. thing. Which meant starring, stickering, etc. every piece of work and then having to hand it all back. Save time for your parents by only sending home important stuff and save work for yourself by being okay not looking at everything turned in. Be smart with your time.
This is easier said than done for a first year teacher. You’re at a new school, doing something for the first time by yourself, learning about your colleagues, learning your students, and learning your curriculum. But as much as you can, plan ahead so you’re not planning day by day (that is so exhausting). If you could come into work earlier than normal just one day each week to plan for the next week or something like that, do it! You’ll thank yourself later for being on top of things more.
GIVE YOURSELF GRACE
You will make mistakes. You won’t always know what to do. You won’t be perfect. And that’s completely okay!!! GIVE YOURSELF GRACE!
SCHEDULE DAYS OFF JUST TO REST
This goes hand in hand with my 3rd tip, but schedule off (preferably) 1 day each weekend to do zero work (no emails, no grading, no nothing!). Take that day to rest, do a hobby, sleep more (unless you have little kiddos at home haha), go outside, whatever makes you feel happy & rested! If you can’t commit to a full day to start, schedule out at least a half day. Your identity is not teaching. You can and should have a life outside of it.
I filmed an entire YouTube video on this in more depth that you can check out here if you’re interested.
How many teachers or people pursuing education do I have here? I would love to know which of these resonated with you most.
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