Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New Teacher Tips

Today I'm linking up with Caitlin at Kindergarten Smiles for New Teacher Tips.  But before I start, let me quickly put in a plug for bloglovin' since we're days away from the death of google reader! Click the button on my right side bar to follow my blog on bloglovin! ----->

It is still hard for me to believe that I am not a new teacher...I'm about to start my fifth year!  I feel like just yesterday I was nervously leading my first class on a tour of a school I didn't know! 

Here are some tips I hope will help all the new teachers out there:
1. Don't expect to be perfect.  You will make mistakes.  We all make mistakes.  So don't beat yourself up when something unexpected happens or a lesson doesn't turn out the way you expected.

2. Do make a personal connection with every family and every kid during that first week.  It's hard because the first week of school is crazy, but your families will love it if you make a phone call home to compliment their child.  Just set up a schedule to call 4 or so families each afternoon and tell them something positive about their child.  I also give out awards during the first week of school, for friendship skills, being helpful, good listening, etc.  My students are so proud to feel like they achieved something BIG so soon in the year.

3. Don't assess during the first week.  I understand that many teachers want to jump in and get data for all their students as soon as possible.  I am all about data, however, I've found that testing during that first week will give you very skewed data.  Students are making a huge adjustment - coming back to school (or to school for the first time), learning a new classroom, meeting a new teacher and new classmates.  It's a lot.  Any kind of testing can add undo stress.  And, because you haven't yet built a relationship with your students, they may not perform to their full ability.  I would wait 1-2 weeks to start assessing, giving your students lots of successful experiences and chances for relationship-building before then.

4. Do begin with academic activities where everyone can succeed.  In kindergarten, we start with lots of name activities and a focus on fine-motor development.  Most children already have some background knowledge in writing or at least recognizing their name, and we can build from there.  Here are some examples of the activities I do that first week.
 Write their name with a sharpie and have them decorate with stickers.  (It works best to spread out the letters to prevent overlap with the stickers.  And they turn out best if you only give them one color sticker to use...otherwise, it's hard to see the letters clearly.)

Draw a large block letter for the first letter in their name and add several lines to separate the letter into sections.  The kids were instructed to color each section a different color.  We used these pictures to make a class ABC book.  (e.g. A is for Ashley.)  And we taped the letters to the ceiling tiles...at least until the fire marshal made us take them down.  

5. Don't cover your walls completely with commercial materials.  There is so much cute stuff out there, and it's easy to fill up all your bulletin boards before the kids come in.  But wait and let the kids create artwork to fill your walls.  Do shared writing and anchor charts.  Add photographs of your children and their families.  It helps them take ownership over their classroom.

6. Do have fun!  This is such a special time and you will make memories you will never forget.  Enjoy it and remember why you became a teacher!

I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:
No one has yet realized the wealth of sympathy, the kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure.
                                                                  -Emma Goldman     


  1. Oh goodness, I {love} these tips. I will be a first-year 5th grade teacher this fall and soaking all of this in! I especially like the idea of making connecting with families the first week. Thank you! :)

    The Brown-Bag Teacher

  2. The name with the stars is so cute - those turned out great!

  3. Loving your kinder tips!! I'm going to be a first year kindergarten teacher this year in China!! I'm so excited to start my adventure at an international school and all of these tips will be very helpful! :)

    Cheers To School


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