My Best Posts for Beginning Teachers

As I browsed the back-to-school posts in my various feeds, I was inspired to do a round-up of my own posts that I think would be most useful to beginning teachers. I’ve focused on practical tips, organization and classroom management ideas, because I think these represent some of the most immediate hurdles and stressors for new teachers, but I also included a few big-idea posts at the end too.

 

Practical/Classroom Management

Tip for New Teachers #1: Always Be Watching. This post shares an invaluable, but almost invisible, tip my mentor taught me in my first year of teaching. It allows me to, almost, have “eyes on the back of my head.”

Tip for New Teachers #2: Monitor Your Talking Time!  This post shares an important tip I learned from another mentor in my early years of teaching—to build our awareness of how much we are talking as we teach and strive for an ideal balance between our voices and those of our students.

5 Pesky Classroom Behaviors I Don’t Allow.   There’s a lot to sweat in the first year of teaching, and it can be overwhelming.  This post outlines a few simple behaviors to look out for and address early on, before they become “a big deal.”  Depending how the beginning of the year unfolds, these may or may not high priorities for your attention—teaching is always about picking battles and prioritizing in the moment. But the idea behind this post was that if these are clearly outlined in the beginning of the year, they won’t ever become real issues.  There are some great suggestions in the comments section as well.

Teachers Share Advice on Classroom Management. This EdWeek piece includes a selection of teachers sharing the best classroom management advice they ever received. Mine is about taking some time on a regular basis to hear from students about how class is going—what’s working, what’s not.  It also reminds me of this article I wrote about a time I used this strategy successfully in my second year of teaching, called “Ask the Kids.”

 

Organization

Cultivating Community (And Efficiency!) With Classroom Jobs.  Setting up classroom jobs for my students has been an organizational lifesaver for me, and students love it, too.  If this will be your first year of teaching, I’d recommend trying just 1-2 to start out and then adding more if you want as the year goes on.

Practical Ideas to Help Students and Teacher Stay Organized.  This is a piece I contributed to Larry Ferlazzo’s Q & A blog at EdWeek, alongside great suggestions from other teachers.  Everyone will need to develop an organization system that suits him or her—that said, there’s almost nothing new under the sun, so best to borrow good ideas.

On the topic of organization, I highly recommend Maia Heyck-Merlin’s website, The Together Group, and her book, The Together Teacher. Maia personally helped me problem-solve the huge challenge of managing students’ multiple drafts of writing. My write-up of our plan is here.

Classroom Tour. Visual examples are helpful for getting ideas. Here is a video that shows how I organize the physical space of my middle school English Language Arts classroom.

 

Big Ideas to Keep in Mind

It’s Not About Me. This post is about shedding our egos, and learning, over time, not to take students’ behavior and actions personally.  Our work as teachers is deep, but it’s really not about us. I think this is a very important concept to keep in mind going into teaching, though it will take years to truly internalize the lesson.

The Power of Our Words and the Wisdom of Years.  This piece is also about an extremely important lesson that can take a very long time to learn: aligning our words with our actions.

Learning When to Hold Our Ground.  In reality, we teach in systems that are far from perfect. We will be put in situations that ask us (directly or indirectly) to compromise.  There aren’t easy answers; some compromise is necessary, but too much has serious consequences. Know that these tough decisions will coming sooner or later.

 

Do you have suggestions or links to add to the list?

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  • ArielSacks

    Great Post from Bill Ferriter

    Wow, just read this post from Bill Ferriter on how he’s starting his year with 6th graders… awesome stuff and he offers his process in great detail. http://www.teachingquality.org/content/if-we-were-going-have-safe-happy-and-fun-classroom

  • ArielSacks

    How Teachers’ Facial Expressions Can Help

    And I just remembered this post about facial expressions and a lesson I learned in my first year of teaching: http://www.teachingquality.org/content/how-facial-expressions-can-help-classroom-management

  • AnneJolly

    Wait Time
    This is a topic that should go on and on . . . I love it! I haven’t had time to read all of the ideas yet, but let me add that if “monitor your wait time” is not embedded in one of the articles, it needs to be. Learning how to ask a good question is a valuable topic – but it doesn’t work unless you wait for kids to process and think before answering. Beginning teachers must practice remaining silent and insisting that the class remains silent for 10 to 15 seconds for everyone to have a chance to think. Then they can raise their hands to respond.