Tuesday, August 2, 2016

5 Tips for New Teachers

(Since posting originally posting this, Meg made me a star!)

I often have preservice teachers visit my classroom.  I’ve worked with college freshmen experiencing their first time in the classroom as an educator and student teachers during their final semester of college as well as everywhere in between.

I always feel like I can always do a better job helping these students transition into their professional lives.  Spending some time now thinking of my top tips for new teachers will hopefully prepare me to be a better mentor.

Here is my list:

1:  Do whatever you can to keep a work life balance.  This is different for everyone.  I personally like to take my college classes over the summer because I enjoy sleeping 8 hours per night during the school year.  I know even more teachers that prefer to keep those 8 weeks of summer completely free of school related work to recharge.  You have to decide what is best for you. 

Not every lesson needs to be project based or include a fun activity.  Do a few of these each week and build each year.

2:  Make friends with teachers in your physical proximity, your building, your department, and your worldwide community. 

The teachers that are close to you are important for day to day questions:
  • How to I copy as an enlargement?
  • What classroom supplies are provided by the school and what must I purchase on my own?
  • I’m expectantly out sick, can you please print these sub plans that I’ve emailed to you and put them on my desk?

The teachers in your building and department are great for big picture lesson planning help:
  • Are their common assessments?  When must they be given?
  • Is there a required scope and sequence that I must follow?
  • Are there departmental supplies (algebra tiles, conic section models) that I can borrow?

The teachers in your worldwide community, the #MTBoS, can help you create engaging plans:
  • How can I use twitter and blogs to connect with the best teachers?
  • Where can I find great organizational tools?
  • Where can I find cool applications or at least engaging activities for class?

3:  If it is available, use technology.

  • Desmos just released card sorts.  Imagine all the time you will save on copying, cutting, laminating, cutting again, and storing cards. 
  • Use a presentation tool like Doceri and you have an instant record of notes to give to students who are absent. 
  • Post all student documents on your LMS sorted by date and you will not need to spend tons of time organizing work for absent students. 
  • Use Plickers, Socrative, etc for review and have a record of student responses.

4:  Learn how to use an equation editor.  For some crazy reason, most of the preservice teachers that end up in my room were never taught to create mathematical equations in their word processing and presentation documents.  I’ve watched them struggle with text boxes and images when all they needed was a quick tutorial on an equation editor.

5:  Be proactive about communicating with parents.  I create groups in my email address book and send out mass emails on important topics (end of marking period, tutoring, how to access grades, etc).  Make time to send positive emails or phone calls early and often.  Parents are more supportive later when there is a problem if they have already had good interactions with you.  When something bad happens, try to call over sending an email.  Your tone of voice may prevent problems.

Good luck to all the new teacher and the returning teachers too!


  1. Great tips, Jennifer! I have 5 tips coming out tomorrow ... through a different lens. It will be fun to compile the tips! Such a great resource for all teachers!

    1. I'll check back on your blog tomorrow then :) I had a hard time picking 5. So many little things that just come up during the mentoring process. It would be a great idea to compile them.