I remember my very first day as a teacher vividly. I was nervous. Palms sweaty, heart racing.
I had barely slept the night before, and for some reason my hair didn’t want to cooperate that morning. I couldn’t wear what I had planned, because it just didn’t feel right anymore. Never mind that I tried on every single piece of clothing in my closet. I arrived at school two hours before the first bell rang, and I still felt like I was late!
It wasn’t anything like teaching practice, where a “real” teacher was never too far away.
Now I was on my own.
A thousand questions and insecurities were racing in my mind:
Am I ready for this?
How am I going to introduce myself?
How will the students react to me?
What is the classroom environment like?
Did I bring my lunch? What did my professor say was the key for managing the class? What did my professor say about anything?? What have I done!?
Relax! Breathe. It is overwhelming, and you’re going to feel overwhelmed for the coming weeks. That’s completely normal – we’ve all been there. I’ve talked to 20+ other teachers and tried to summarize their advice and thoughts into five points.
The most important things to remember as a new teacher are:
- Give yourself some slack. You’re not going to know everything, manage everything and be on top of absolutely everything from day one. Nor is anyone going to expect you to.
- Being prepared will take the edge off. Arrive as prepared as possible for your lessons. It will help you feel more confident. Keep in mind though that you can plan the perfect lesson – and it doesn’t pan out at all. That’s normal, and happens to all of us.
- Talk to your colleagues. Ask questions, collaborate, tell them what you’re struggling with and ask for their advice. Seeking out knowledge is nothing to be ashamed of – we’re all lifelong learners, remember?
- Take care of yourself. Protect yourself against the far too common teacher burnout. Make sure you take some time off, and nurture yourself. If you don’t take care of you, it’s going to be a very, very long year. Get enough sleep, eat right, exercise and socialize. It’s going to do you good!
- Give yourself grace. Every day as you leave work, remind yourself that you did your best that day – and that is good enough. As you gain experience, you gain traction and confidence. It’s a steep learning curve, but that also means you’re growing!