Being a new teacher is extremely exciting and completely exhausting. So let me start by shouting this loud and clear:
We are here to help you!
Because we know that starting your teaching career can be all consuming, we’ve created our New Teacher Deep Dive just for you.
Quick. Imagine you’re on “Who Wants To Be a Teacher Millionaire” and the million dollar question is: “What do most teachers agree is most true about their work?”
What would you say? At the center of our teacher-hearts, what do we believe about our work? There are many good answers, but I think the answer I would offer, given all the teachers I’ve met in my career, is a belief in the power of relationships.
As a new teacher, I remember my greatest fears: students would run wild, it would be impossible to get their attention, and my class would be out of control. I thought a lot about rules and consequences, making plans for different types of disturbances. Though my class still felt pretty crazy, I found comfort in my plans for order.
But all my thinking about classroom management neglected one important thing: classroom culture. I was so concerned with keeping my class under control that I forgot to spend time developing a positive classroom culture.
Your first year of teaching is overwhelming. There’s no real way around this. Everything is new! But with help and support, it can get a little easier. That’s where we come in.
I am so excited to debut the first run of our Teaching Channel Teams group, dedicated to helping new teachers develop positive class culture. Through this group, you’ll get to use the Teaching Channel Teams platform to collaborate with teachers across the country, explore resources, and learn new strategies. All in less than one hour a week!
Teaching Channel wants to help teachers as they begin their career in education. In this series, you’ll find the videos, blogs, and other resources that will walk you through the steps you’ll need to take before the first day of school.
As a new teacher, I remember feeling overwhelmed by the wide range of abilities in my classroom. How was I supposed to meet all of my students’ needs while simultaneously covering grade level content? As I learned more about differentiation, this became easier, but it still remained one of the most challenging aspects of teaching.
Now that I coach teachers in their first and second years, I can safely say that differentiation remains a huge challenge. I went out and asked the members of Teaching Channel’s Coaching Think Tank to share their top differentiation strategies for new teachers. Check out these six tips for meeting the needs of diverse learners.
Autumn Bell, a math coach for Fresno Unified School District, recommends using equity sticks to randomly call on students during direct instruction. Autumn suggests that teachers plan a variety of different questions to ask. When calling on specific students, teachers can then ask them a question at their level. Autumn stresses that it’s important to have high expectations for all students, but starting with leveled questions can help to build students’ confidence in sharing their thoughts.
Most new teachers plan to create calm and productive classrooms. But as we all know, things don’t always go as planned. When I observe new teachers, I often see them using a great selection of classroom management tools: counting down, waiting for all students’ attention, giving consequences, reminding the class of the class agreements… and on and on.
But sometimes when teachers are so focused on classroom management, entire lesson periods are spent trying to get students on task. This is exhausting for both teachers and students — teachers never get a chance to truly teach, and students never get a chance to learn the content.
To say that the first year of teaching is challenging would be an understatement. There are so many moving parts to manage and so many new things to learn that it’s sometimes difficult to know where to start. Keep it simple and start with these small teaching tweaks.
1. Reset and reteach.
The beginning of the New Year is the perfect time for a new start. Your students will benefit from practicing classroom routines and procedures. This time of year also makes for a natural opportunity to shift routines and practices that haven’t been working. If you discover, for example, that your pencil sharpening procedure isn’t going as well as you’d hoped, reset and create a procedure that works better for you and your students.
I’ve said it again and again, both here and to the beginning teachers I coach: the job of a teacher is never done.
I say it so much because I still find it hard to swallow. I’m the kind of person who likes to make to-do lists and methodically check things off. This was how I spent my first few years of teaching — making endless lists then drowning in them as I collected more and more things to do.
I wondered why no matter how much effort I put into my job, it never got more manageable. As my list grew longer and longer, I developed chronic stomach pain and started clenching my jaw. At a certain point, I realized taking on more wasn’t having positive benefits for my students, and it was negatively impacting my health.
When I first started teaching, I was passionate and loved my subject area, but I was clueless when it came to classroom management. My teacher preparation program gave me no specific strategies, so I went into the classroom thinking that if I had a well-planned lesson, classroom management would take care of itself.
I, like many teachers, learned about classroom management the hard way, through trial and error. Now, after ten years in the classroom and five years coaching teachers, I want to share three things I wish I had known.
1. Teach Time-Saving Routines and Procedures
One morning during my first year of teaching, I was entering attendance at my desk. When I looked up, every student in my class had rotated their desks so they were all facing the wall. They continued working as if nothing had happened. It was bizarre and frustrating; if they were capable of doing this so efficiently, why did it take an eternity to get into reading groups or lined up for lunch? I didn’t think I needed to teach middle-schoolers how to enter a classroom — they’ve been doing this for years! It turns out I was wrong.