12 Tips for New Teachers (And Those Starting Anew in 2014)


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By Jenny Edwards, PhD

For all of you new teachers out there (and also those who have been in the profession for a while now), I wish you years of success, as you are in the greatest position of all— the position to influence the lives of many students. Right now, your current focus is probably on how to have a successful first few weeks of school. What might be the best ways to spend your time as you are preparing for the school year to start? What are some things you should keep in mind once the students arrive and class begins?

Here are 12 tips for success as you begin your career (or school year) and continue growing in the teaching

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  1. Familiarize yourself with your school district’s website before school starts. Become familiar with the curriculum you will be using and learn about the district policies.
  2. Get to know your colleagues and begin to develop a good working relationship with them. Have the attitude of a learner. Be willing to share your ideas with them and be willing to learn from them.
  3. Get to know other school personnel, such as the secretaries, custodians, and cafeteria workers. Go out of your way to greet them.
  4. Seek out mentors. Identify people from whom you would especially like to learn and get to know them.
  5. Set up a classroom management system from the beginning of the year. Ask your colleagues what works for them and use ideas from your teacher training. Know exactly how you will manage the students the minute they walk in the door and use these strategies consistently throughout the year.
  6. Create lessons and materials for the first week of school prior to the start of school so that you will know exactly what you are going to do and will have everything ready to go.
  7. Think through when students will be turning in major assignments and stagger the due dates.
  8. Build positive relationships with your students by smiling, getting to know them, and treating them with respect.
  9. Build positive relationships with the parents of your students by making positive phone calls to them in the first several weeks of school. Introduce yourself, say something positive about their child, and let them know that you are looking forward to working with them and their child. Make sure they know how they can contact you and when you will be available.
  10. Make use of small bits of time throughout the day. If you have five extra minutes, what might you be able to accomplish?
  11. Call the parent immediately should an incident occur to explain what happened. People usually believe the first person they hear. Be sure to inform your principal as well.
  12. Ask yourself empowering questions throughout the day, such as “How can I help each of my students to enjoy learning today?” or “How can I build a positive relationship with each student?”

Find more resources for heading back to school on ASCD’s website. For more from Jenny Edwards, check out her new publication Time To Teach: How Do I Get Organized And Work Smarter?.