Harry Wong
Dec 2017
Vol 14 No 4

From the Trenches: Advice for New Teachers

By Danica Murillo

difficult and doesn’t believe their child is the source of any sort of problem.  If your school holds an Open House or Meet the Parent Night prior to the start of the year, use it as an opportunity to talk to parents about their child and your expectations for the school year.  More often than not, the parents that attend Open House are the ones that will be open to communication with you.  I’ve recently started giving out business cards with my contact information to parents at Open House, and when they sign in, I ask for a good phone number and email address.  Try to keep parents informed by sending out monthly newsletters or posting classroom updates on your school’s website. A great online tool that allows teachers to send text message reminders to parents, and students, is “Remind 101.”  If you do have problems with a student, make parent contact early and as often as necessary, but be sure to call with positive and negative feedback on the child.  Students tend to curb their behavior when they know that you’ve managed to establish a relationship with their parents.

Professionalism is a must.  Parent and student relationships are a major part of teaching, but the behaviors you engage in and your interactions with your colleagues are equally important.  Being a professional doesn’t just mean dressing the part; it means acting the part.  The biggest mistake I see many new teachers make is texting during class, meetings, and professional development trainings.  Texting in class sends the message to students that it’s okay for them to do it since you are doing it. Texting during meetings and trainings is not only rude, but it sends the message that you don’t respect the speaker and have no interest in learning the material.  You also need to think about your interactions with colleagues that you might not like or necessarily get along with.  Collaboration is essential in education, so you’ll have to learn how to be diplomatic in your dealings with colleagues whose opinions you don’t agree with.  Never speak disrespectfully about a colleague in front of students or other staff members.  Trust me; it will get back to that person.  Your professional reputation is formed during your first year, so be sure to think about your words and actions around students, parents, and staff.

Take time for yourself.  Dealing with children and adults all day, as well as paperwork and meetings, makes teaching a stressful profession.  There are long days spent in the classroom and even longer nights planning and grading.  The worst mistake I made my first year was closing myself off from all the things I enjoyed and focusing solely on work.  Make sure this doesn’t happen to you.  There will always be one more lesson to plan, another paper to grade, or something to organize in your classroom.  Remember, your job does not define who you are.  You had a life before teaching, so do the things you enjoyed doing before you became a teacher.  Cook, run, take a fun class like photography or painting, read a book, go hiking, see a movie, or just spend a weekend on the couch doing absolutely nothing. Whatever it is, make sure you recharge your batteries.  You, and your students, will benefit from time you take to make sure you are rested, happy, focused, and motivated for the work ahead.

Education needs strong, happy, enthusiastic, and creative individuals committed to making a difference in the lives of children.  Teacher burn out is a very real threat in our profession, but knowing what to expect from your first year and taking the steps to make it a successful one means you are more likely to return year after year. As you welcome your first set of the students into your classroom, remember to learn, grow, have fun, and teach your heart out.

About the author

Danica Murillo teaches 6th grade ELAR at Sul Ross Middle School in San Antonio, TX.  

She recently celebrated her 10th year in education and hopes to continue growing young minds for many more years. 

A note from Teachers.Net: Middle School Teachers gather here to share ideas and provide peer support. Why not join them today?



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This entry was posted on Sunday, September 1st, 2013 and is filed under *ISSUES, Danica Murillo, September 2013. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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