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Teachers First Days – A Survival Guide Part I

New Teachers First Days

Degree Check! Interviews Check! Waiting impatiently for a call check!

You finally get the call you have been waiting for and it’s official, you are now Ms. Teacher, 7th grade English. As you prepare for the upcoming school year, excitement, nervousness, enthusiasm all go running through you like standing on the start line of a track meet. “Runners to you mark, Get set….GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You quickly realize that your degree in teaching might have prepared you for writing an epic lesson plan on “grammar” or on “plot development”, but what it did not teach you is how to survive the first days of school as a new teacher.

1. Choose your tribe

As a new teacher at a new school, you may not know another single person. So you naturally navigate towards the teachers who seem “nice” or teach the same subject, or hey maybe even just choose your tribe because they are your same age. All of those tactics seem like a good idea; however, teachers are like high school girls and can be as catty as women sitting around at the beauty shop. Don’t get me wrong, not all teachers fall into that category but that’s why it is so important to find your tribe and stick with them!

2. Wear appropriate attire

The new outfits you bought this summer and the amazing shoes you got such a deal on may look cute and be fitting for any regular day, but beware, days as a teacher require a lot of standing, walking around your classroom, many trips to the copier (Be prepared your classroom may not be anywhere close to the nearest copier, bathroom, or human for that matter.) The attire you chose must be carefully debated and possibly even worn as a trial run before you make the commitment to wear it to work.

3. Know the lingo

Before your actual first days with students, you will have a plethora of meetings. Meetings with your principal, meetings with the entire staff, meetings with your team if that is how your school splits up your department. Meaning everyone who teaches your subject and grade level (These are the people you will most likely be spending the most time with) and department meetings, those who teach the same subject but all grade levels. Within all of the meetings there will be a lot of talk using ACRONYMS for things you have never heard of and have no clue what they are talking about, don’t fret, take notes, nod your head, and run as fast as you can after the meeting to one of your “tribe” members and ask if they can explain it all to you. Number one rule, don’t be afraid to ask, never have too much pride and try to just “wing” it. You will become overwhelmed and even more confused.

4. Be overly prepared

Time is a different beast when teaching. It either goes by way too fast and you feel like you were not able to successfully get through all your objectives for the day, or it goes by so slow that you have already completed your lesson and have 15-20 min to spare with 30 7th graders staring at you on the edge of their seat, watching your every move. Or in real life, they are bouncing off the walls and you start scrambling trying to find something for them to occupy their leftover time until the bell rings. Have your lesson plans prepared, however you only really learn how all of it works the more you do it.

The more you teach, the more you write lessons, the more you get to know your students, the better prepared you are. It is not something you can’t learn in a college classroom. It is more of a trial by fire situation. Have extra copies, and always prepare for extra time. Have something the students can work on if by chance you happen to speed through your lesson plan that you initially thought would have taken days not 15-20 min.

5. Find your “person”

You know in Grey’s Anatomy, when Meredith Grey and Christina Yang become friends and literally walk through everything together. They are there for one another, support one another, and help one another. Find the person at your school who will bring you coffee because they know how exhausted you are from late nights of lesson planning, or the person who has extra pens in their desk because they know you always lose yours, the person who will drive with you on your conference to get a pick me up from the local Sonic. The person who will sit and listen to you complain, cry, and laugh, all in the same conversation. Find that person and hold onto them for dear life. They will be your life vest during those first days of school as well as the entire school year. Find that person but also be that person for someone else.

“First days” will be continued in the next post. I hope you enjoy and tune back in for the next survival tips.

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