If you’re a new teacher, chances are pretty good that you’re excited… terrified… overwhelmed… and so many more emotions you can’t even begin to describe. In this post I’ll share with you a few teacher hacks that just might ease those fears and worries!
I remember walking into my classroom my first year and dying a little inside when I saw it. The previous teacher of my specific room had retired, and she must have ran straight out of her classroom on the last day and never looked back.
My classroom looked like a tornado had ripped through it with desks scattered about in shambles, cupboards so full of old teaching files that they wouldn’t even open, and ORANGE cupboards EVERYWHERE.
The Instagram worthy classroom I had been picturing in my head was so far from reach at that moment that anxiety took over and I called my mom for HELP! Luckily she is amazing and drove the 2+ hours to help me put my classroom together.
I tell you all of this to let you know that I have been there. I survived. However, here are a few things I wish I had known before my first year to make it go a little more smoothly!
TEACHER HACK #1
Use your co-teachers or grade level team.
I had the best co-teacher you could ask for. I don’t think I would have made it through the first day without her. She prepped me for what the first day should look like, the first week, and the rest of the year! She was also someone I could go to for ideas on how to handle tricky situations and occasionally shed a few tears with.
The thing is, there’s nothing better than having someone help you through your challenges who has gone through them before. If you end up in a situation where you don’t have a collaborative team, get on Instagram, follow blogs, or join Facebook groups of teachers who are in your shoes. This gives you a tribe to share ideas with and sympathize with too!
TEACHER HACK #2
Set realistic expectations of yourself.
You want the Insta worthy classroom, bulletin boards, projects, lesson plans, etc. The truth is, all of that becomes very trivial when you are dealing with real students who have hard days, parents who need your help, staff meetings to attend, and, not to mention, all that you have going on at home!
I started out the year with the goal to create the perfect room, new bulletin boards every month, an amazing weekly newsletter, a fun Friday project for my students, and more! Well, you probably guessed that my goal was quickly squashed by reality!
You will have to choose what matters most to you, and find ways to cut or simplify the rest. The reason the teacher-next-door seems to have it all together might be because this isn’t his/her first year. It gets easier, but do yourself a favor and don’t compare or expect yourself to be perfect!
TEACHER HACK #3
Utilize Donors Choose.
Oh how I wish this was a thing my 1st year! I spent so much of my own money buying supplies and other items for my classroom because the school budget just wasn’t enough.
Donors Choose is a platform that allows you to post your classroom needs, and random strangers or parents or community members can donate to your cause. Once it’s fully funded, you receive a fun email letting you know!
Just last week I was able to donate to my son’s preschool for pretend play materials. I didn’t have to give much and I was happy to help his teacher out!
TEACHER HACK #4
Utilize Teachers Pay Teachers.
Chances are pretty high that you’ve already heard of it, used it, loved it. Unfortunately it was a VERY new concept my first year. I did, however, find a few very helpful resources that first year that SAVED me. I made smart purchases – ones that would last me the whole year. Occasionally I would splurge for a fun holiday activity or when I was burnt out and just needed an extra boost of creativity from other teachers!
Now Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) even has a great way for school administrators to pay for your items if approved! This is an option if your school is part of their TPT for schools program. If they aren’t, you can get them signed up!
Since leaving the classroom (to raise my two boys) I’ve spent endless hours creating all the resources I really wished I had that first year, and they’re available to other teachers through TPT. Here are a couple that you might find helpful.
TEACHER HACK #5
When Possible, Leave School @ School!
It will be HARD to not take home the piles of grading and projects you want to finish that night or over the weekend. But I realized something halfway through my 1st year: I was a better teacher if I gave myself time to decompress at night and on the weekends.
Half of the time I didn’t even finish what I brought home or even touch it! The work will always be there. Burnout will happen so quickly if you let it consume you.
Also, you need to LEAVE school. (Don’t stay until 9pm. That craziness is for Parent teacher conferences only!) So take the weekend and head to the beach, or the spa, or just your backyard and RELAX!
Do you have any other hacks for new teachers? Share in the comments below!
Everyone knows as a new teacher free resources are a MUST. So I’ve created a library of free resources to help you start and finish your year strong! Just subscribe below to gain access!