A while ago, we asked this question on our Facebook page: what advice would you give to a new teacher? The answers we got were so great, we thought we’d share them with you here – noting some of the common themes that came through!
Differentiate your teaching
“Treat each child as an individual and follow the interests of the class. Allow flexibility, creativity and FUN to be part of your classroom. Open windows and don’t impose stereotypical models. Be part of your attitude to students. Learning through fun is a lasting lesson. Spread the LOVE.” Gail H. “Be organised! LiteracyPlanet is a great resource for differentiating literacy tasks.” Samantha L. “Get to really know your students and differentiate your teaching to each student. Don’t be afraid to get off topic; sometimes those lessons make the best lessons. Have fun and get students engaged in any subject. Make your classroom with your students and don’t give too many class rules. Leave it simple and link to the school values.” Jillian I. “Get to know your students and their learning style. Don’t be fake, nor over familiar. Inject humour. Have collaborative classroom rules. On the board, outline to students what they are doing (like an agenda) and what you are looking for – success indicators. Initially you have to be tough…but be fair. Have faith in yourself – believe in yourself. Try different ideas and let the students know that they are valued. Do a few practical hands-on activities where possible. Enjoy your learning journey. Listen to your peers and join online forums. I love teaching – 20 years and still learning!” Maija B. “Be organised, be creative and fun, not all students learn the same way so be flexible, breathe, have fun, enjoy your students creativity, listen and never stop learning. If it’s overwhelming for you it’s overwhelming for your students. Take a breather and continue. Never give up. Colour your world and your students world, laugh often. Last but not least, have great stationery to hand out as rewards! *brownie points” Melanie G.
Dealing with student’s behaviour
“My comments are probably more applicable to secondary school teachers, but could apply to all new teachers: Every student has a history – don’t assume anything about your students, don’t judge, don’t stereotype. Try not to take things to heart – some students will test you and try to challenge you – they are testing boundaries, not necessarily being personal. Be flexible – if a “teaching / learning” moment occurs, follow it up; if the students are not engaged, try something else. Be passionate and enthusiastic in the classroom – it will be appreciated by students – show that you enjoy being with them. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Don’t demand respect – earn it.” Sonia J. “Remember each child is precious and so and sometimes the children that misbehave need us the most. Make school a happy safe place for everyone.” Amanda H.
Lean on your colleagues
“Don’t sweat the small stuff, learn from your mistakes (things are going to go wrong!) and be open and honest with other colleagues (talk about successes but also areas you need help – get ideas!).” Elaine G. “Don’t go it alone! Find a mentor; someone willing to share their experience and who you can go to for assistance. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to be a great teacher – there’s a lot to learn from other’s experiences.” Gemma W.
“Family School and Community Partnerships really do strengthen student learning! Build social capital and the trust of parents and this relationship building will really assist you as a teacher.” Monica H. “It’s all about relationships, kids, parents, colleagues. Break down the skills kids need to succeed in an activity and teach these skills explicitly. Remember the kids need practice to succeed, be patient, they will get it. If they don’t, change your approach. Remember if the kids trust you they will believe they can succeed. Never give up!!” Maurie C. “Building relationships is paramount. Learning just won’t happen without them. It may feel like a distraction from learning to show your care and interest in your students (where is that in the curriculum?!?) but ultimately this is what empowers students to feel comfortable enough to be vulnerable in their learning!” Kimberley N.
Remember how important your role is
“It will all be worthwhile when you get to meet your students as adults who you have helped to shape :)” Nyssa J. “Come in with an open heart and open mind to learning new things, forming positive authentic relationships with the students, staff and whole school community. And make opportunities to celebrate and reflect the smallest of successes, staying true to your ever changing belief statement of why you chose to enter what is the best profession/ job ever.” Brendon W.
Look after yourself
“Ensure you have a good work/life balance. It’s so easy to get caught up in work when you are a teacher. And have fun!” EJ H. “Make time for yourself! You will want to spend so much time on school work even when you’re not there, but you have to make time for yourself! Write it in your diary or set a reminder on your phone if you have to! You will have so many things you want to get done on your list, that you could spend forever doing it! Prioritise and work on the right work! What’s going to make an impact on kids learning? The other stuff can wait a little while.” Kelly B. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t assume and make judgments. Get to know your students and appreciate their strengths and weaknesses. Establish work life balance early in your career. If you’re sick – take a day off – things won’t fall apart – but you will if you keep pushing yourself! Enjoy the journey.” Ali T. “Know your learners. Do your research. Listen to your colleagues. Observe, observe, observe. Make lists and stick to them. Only volunteer for one or two projects outside of teaching. Eat and drink well. Exercise. Make time for a social life. Sleep. Recognise that you are learning. Welcome feedback. Celebrate the wins, even the minute ones.” Marty M. “I would say to any beginning teacher that they should find a way to create their teaching day so they plan to make it the best ever day for them and the kids. Learning should always have a purpose and if you are excited and challenged, you will love teaching whatever it is you are teaching and the kids will also be motivated to learn. Sometimes you will feel very discouraged. That is not a cue that says ‘Give up teaching’, but rather, ‘Something is challenging me here and time to learn perhaps, a new way of tackling a task or five. Teaching can consume your entire waking life, and even encroach on sleeping time in the wee hours. Make sure to create a work/life balance and carve out ‘Me’ time. If you don’t, not only will you be unhappy, but teaching is one of those jobs where it is easy to burn out. Do not compare your efforts with those of others. That is a sure-fire way of sliding into discouragement. Rather, set your own goals for yourself, and monitor your own process. If YOU are unhappy with an aspect of your work, address it and improve it in a way that satisfies. YOU. Learn to use every moment wisely and do your best to perhaps stay longer at school each day to prepare for the next day, then go home and enjoy being at home. We deserve at least 3 hours of R&R each day to replenish ourselves and to relax. Most of all, really get to know and love, those young kids you get to teach every day. You don’t know their circumstances and you may just be the one safe and caring person that child has, to offer loving and sound guidance that he or she may take on-board for a lifetime. Finally, read, read, read good literature to kids, from kindy up. Not all kids come from literate homes. Expose them to all sorts of good children’s literature and develop within them a lifetime love of reading. If you make it desirable for them, they will also be more inclined to see it that way too. Most of all, enjoy the challenging and interesting future ride as an educator. It will never be boring, and you will develop and grow as a human being as you face the inevitable challenges that all teachers face. Keep learning, growing and most of all, develop your sense of humour. You will need it!” Suzanne S.
Love your students
“Love your kids, find something about each student to genuinely like” Linda O. “All children have talents, remember to look out for them, acknowledge them praise and value them all. We are about educating the whole child, not just academically in your own subject area. Do this and your students will thrive as will you as a teacher. You can do this!” Tracy H. “Never stop being passionate about learning. If you are positive and excited about the lesson you are teaching, your students will be too. And always appreciate each and every one of your students, they all have beautiful minds.” Nichaud J. “Throw caution to the wind, make learning fun and enjoyable. Never forget that respect is a 2 way street.” Lee E.
“Over plan for lessons but always be realistic about how much can be achieved in any lesson.” Clara L. “The advice that I would give to a new teacher is to have passion, empathy for the students, solid knowledge of the subject area, as well as good organisational skills because they’ll need to be well prepared for the lesson.” Dee S. “Be happy and transmit your enthusiasm. Know each individual. Work in your teams and seek support and new ideas. Plan ahead well so there is always plenty of varied activity. Relax and give yourself time.” Elizabeth C.
But be flexible
“Ultimately, learn to trust yourself and never lose sight of the reasons you began your teaching journey. Your heart, your love and passion for educating the generations to come are what matters- not having a Pinterest ready classroom, not having a pristine daily workload without notes (every teacher must be flexible and roll with inevitable daily changes) and not being ‘the best’. We all start somewhere and our best teachers are the children and other teachers themselves. Laugh – at yourself! We have days where no matter what we do, we trip over our own tongues!! Let the children see that you are human and you can laugh at yourself. Make learning fun and school a safe, happy place for your precious class. Be complimentary towards your colleagues and prepared to learn from those more experienced. Never lose sight of your love for teaching.” Taryn U. “Be flexible! No two days are ever the same. Even the best planned day book goes out the window when a class gets split, or there is a fire drill or someone vomits.” Mareike D.
Managing your workload
“No one is on top of their work load (not even the principal). Learn how to prioritise. Learning activities for the class come first, anything with a deadline is next and when it comes to the end of the year and there are things still on your “to-do list”, then they weren’t necessary. That and take time to rest during the holidays or you will get sick!” Samantha H. “The list of things to do will never be complete so learn to prioritise and work smart. And never spend longer preparing an activity than your students will spend completing it!” Sophie C.
Make learning fun
“Music in the classroom. My daughter’s favourite teacher was her grade 2 teacher end of day was always a 10min dance party. She also had a reward jar. Good behaviour saw a marble added to jar. Bad behavior saw one removed. Once full class voted on a reward from a list. Whole class became responsible for behaviour. Whole class was happy. If concentration was slipping on went a song for a quick dance.” Bronie J. “I’d tell new teachers to make learning fun. If children enjoy what they’re doing, they will soak up all the information like sponges <3” Juanita T. “Find the child in you and bring them along to class – make sure the kids get to meet your inner child!” Lina-Marie C. “My advice would be to make your classroom an inviting space. Have some ‘ice breaker’ games ready to engage your students and learn about their personalities and friendships. Establish a joint list of rules with the students. I had my class sign the rules contract to acknowledge that they understood them. Have fun and share your goals and vision for the year with your students. :D” Lara K. Follow LiteracyPlanet on Facebook for more advice like this!