It’s hard to believe that it is time for back to school! This blog post is focused toward new teachers getting ready to embark on their first teaching job (or it may serve as a nice reminder for experienced or veteran teachers). I am certainly not an expert, but as I enter my 10th year of teaching, here are my top 10 tips for new teachers:
1.Relationships, Relationships, Relationships!
Relationships are the backbone to education. They are the heartbeat of your classroom. Think back to when you were in school. Who were your favorite teachers? They were the ones who took an interest in your life and showed that they cared about you. Curriculum and lesson planning can be intimidating, but don’t forget the reason we are educators. We are here to make a difference in the lives of children and that is more important than anything else in our profession.
Go out of your way to learn more about each of your students. Learn about their likes and dislikes. Learn about what motivates them. Don’t forget to open up your life to them too so they can learn about you. Create a culture or environment where everyone feels like they belong and that they’re an integral part of the team. Established relationships will help tremendously with classroom management.
p.s. Don’t forget to build relationships with your coworkers. You’ll learn that your building secretaries and custodians will become your best friends (resources)!
2. Be Prepared
There’s a famous quote that states “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. This is so true. Be prepared. Make sure you know every little detail about your lesson, including how your students will transition from one task to another or how you will put them in groups or how they will get the equipment or even put it away. It’s better to be over prepared and have too much in your lesson plan than too little. Have a plan B because I guarantee plan A will go wrong sometimes. Have a plan C because I guarantee that plan B will go wrong sometimes. Don’t be afraid to stop the class and say this isn’t working, lets try something different. It will happen and it’s all part of your learning experience as a teacher. This is how you grow.
Also, some things will happen during class that you’re not prepared for. No one ever taught me in college what to do if a student pees on the floor during the middle of class or if they throw up on your equipment (both have happened multiple times). You just gotta go with the flow (no pun intended lol) and do the best you can in situations like these.
p.s. Remember, it’s okay to FAIL. FAIL = First attempt in learning
3. Be Flexible
Health and PE teachers have to be some of the most flexible individuals in the school. I’ve worked in the “gymacafeatorium” and because your space is used by everyone, you’re often at their “mercy”. It’s never ideal if you get kicked out of your gym because they need it for an assembly or if the floor is wet after being mopped from lunch. However, you must be flexible and make the best of it without complaining! I’ve had to teach PE in the lobby and hallways many times. It always ends up going really well, because the students get to “play” in the hall, which is something they aren’t usually allowed to do. Be flexible as much as you can and don’t let your frustration show.
4. Reflect and Record
Lesson plans got your head spinning? During your first few years of teaching, you will spend many evenings and weekends working on lesson plans. Keep everything organized and once your are done with your lesson, add notes and change the lesson to what worked. That way if you teach it again in a different year, you know the best way to teach it. It is time consuming, but it does get easier as the years go on…
5. Never Stop Learning
This one is huge. If you want to be a great educator, you must keep learning. I’m a big fan of Twitter because it is essentially free professional development. There are so many great activities and ideas shared everyday by PE teachers on Twitter. You can take them right into your classroom and teach the next day if you want to.
Also, get in a habit of attending your state/national conventions and/or other various workshops. So many awesome resources and you’ll learn so much from the best in the profession.
6. “Tear Down The Walls”
Transparency is very important to parents. Parents want to know what is happening in the schools. I highly recommend using a platform, such as Seesaw or Class Dojo, that allows you to “tear down the walls” of your school and let the parents see the great things you do in your PE Program. We have to continue to fight the stereotype of “old school gym class” and show them what new PE looks like today. The more we promote all of the good things we do in class, the more support we get from our parents and community.
7. Just Survive
You probably have big ambitions and ideas for your PE program, but just take a “chill pill” for a moment. Great PE programs don’t happen overnight. It happens over many years of consistency and experience. While I applaud you wanting to go above and beyond right away, you will have a lot on your plate in the first year. I suggest writing down short-term and long-term goals for your program. I have no doubt that you can get there, but don’t bite off more than you can chew right out of the gate.
8. Be Patient and Stay Calm
Students will test your patience almost everyday, especially being a new teacher. It is important to remain patient and stay calm even though you may want to rip out your hair in certain situations. Nothing good ever comes from losing your patience and yelling.
9. Take Risks
10. Be Funny and Act Goofy
One thing that I love to do is “TRY” to be funny and act goofy with the kids. This aides in building relationships with students. It shows them that you are fun and gets students excited to come into your classroom. Don’t take life too seriously. You’ve got to laugh and have fun. Life is too short to sweat all of the small stuff and worry about if you are doing everything correctly.
BONUS TIP: Be The One That Believes In Them!
By Chance Condran
Elementary PE Teacher