I have been asked by friends and colleagues at work for advice on how I teach, manage the workload, etc. so I decided to share all my "secrets" in one post to make it easier to refer back to :) Of course I'm not an expert and I still have a lot to learn, but I did learn a lot (sometimes the hard way) during my first year and so will you! Whether you went through some teacher training or not, I hope the tips below will be useful. For more tips, please go here.
1. Sometime in the beginning of the school year, you should make a pacing guide/curriculum division using your school calendar and textbooks. This guide is a list of mini goals for the year on each subject you teach. For example, using my school calendar and looking through the textbook to figure out how many days each lesson/chapter will take to teach, I list the dates I plan to give my tests/ project due dates. You will get an idea of what you want to accomplish each marking period and this helps to avoid not finishing the curriculum.
2. This is optional, but I found it is helpful to go through the chapters and lessons of each subject you teach to get an idea of what topics you will be teaching and will have to find resources for. If you do this, you can have materials (games, worksheets, crafts, etc.) ready in advanced. This is also great if you plan to teach the same grade/ subject in future years ;)
3. I'm an organizational freak! I love to organize everything and as a teacher this is important. I remember seeing the chaos of some of my teachers when I was a student and would wonder how on earth they managed to not lose anything! Keeping all your files, desk, work bag, personal belongings organized will help you focus, find things easily, get more work done, etc. I use a separate flash drive just for work, a planner that I wrote about here, and a ton of folders to keep my stuff organized.
4. Spend your time in school wisely! Try not to get caught up in the teacher gossip and get some work done at school so you can relax at home. During my student's free time, I would try to grade, organize, clean, get materials ready, etc. My students even liked to help me at times which was great!
5. Get into a routine that works for you and your students. This will take a few weeks at least, but once a routine is made, everyone should know what is expected. For example, my students knew almost every Monday for ELA we would do a spelling worksheet, vocab practice page, grammar worksheet, read and discuss a short story, then free time (we had 3 periods of ELA).
My personal routine looked something like this last year and worked well for me. During prep in school:
Monday- make copies/ print and organize all the cw and hw I will need for the week, grade hw if I gave any on Friday
Tuesday- grade hw/cw, make tests, copy and print anything else I want to use during the week
Wednesday- same as above
Thursday- I had at least 1 test this day so I made it a priority to grade the tests on Thursday during prep to send home for parents to sign, grade hw/cw, make tests for tomorrow if I haven't already
Friday- grade spelling and grammar tests to send home Friday, grade hw/cw, print materials for next week to help in lesson planning
Friday/Saturday/Sunday- lesson planning and finding outside sources for classwork and homework
6. Give yourself a break once in a while! At home I try to get at least 1 task done everyday related to work like grade, find resources, work on class blog etc. If I don't feel like it, I give myself a break since we do a lot of work in school. Figure out how to balance your work and personal life so neither suffers!
7. Have some sort of reward system (I use a prize box) to manage student behavior.
8. There should be a club for teachers at dollar stores! I found a lot of great stuff like seasonal décor, prize box items, classroom/art supplies etc. and they are more affordable then actual teacher stores sometimes.
9. Some of my favorite websites for teachers are https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/, https://www.pinterest.com/, https://www.superteacherworksheets.com/, and https://jr.brainpop.com/(find out if your school uses the last two to get the login info).
10. I'm a sarcastic person so I had to remind myself to keep the sarcasm at a minimum. Students may take it the wrong way! Also, be serious, but also silly. Students love it when we actually smile/laugh and know how to have fun. They will also enjoy learning and being in our company :)