Surviving the First Days and Weeks of School
Tips for Beginning Teachers
By Afua Saafir
Starting your career as a teacher can be both an exhilarating and stressful experience. New teachers are often filled with passion, but can quickly get overwhelmed.
By the time most beginning teachers get ready to start their careers they have already worked hard in college, completed student teaching, and passed their teacher certification tests. If they can survive the application process, make it through their interviews and finally land their first job as a teacher, they will probably feel quite proud of their accomplishments!
Many new teachers simply can’t wait to get into the classroom and start impacting the lives of students in a positive way. They gather teaching materials all summer and go to required new teacher training sessions. Before long the first day of school arrives. Why do they suddenly feel like a little child all over again? Panic often begins to set in as they try not to stress out about everything that is now expected of them!
This new teacher phenomenon is quite common, so beginning teachers need not worry too much. Here are some simple tips that can help new teachers get off to a good start.
Getting Proper Rest is Essential for Beginning Teachers
It is a good idea to save those late nights for the weekends. Staying up late routinely can have a negative effect on one's health and well-being. According to the Washington Post, physiologic studies have been done that suggest that chronic sleep deprivation may cause the body to go into a state of high alert. This increases the production of stress hormones and drives up blood pressure. These people may find themselves at a higher risk for heart attacks, heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes.
Why should new teachers increase their risk for developing these types of serious illnesses by depriving themselves of the rest that is so vital to everyone's overall ability to function? The teaching profession itself can be stress inducing and teachers need to maintain good health in order to successfully deal with the many challenges they face on a daily basis.
Getting to bed on time is one of the best ways to help ensure good health. While people vary with regards to how much sleep is needed, teachers should try to get at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. They will likely feel much better and be able to face their busy days with a positive outlook.
Attendance and Punctuality is a Critical Component of Successful Teaching
It is imperative that beginning teachers arrive to school early. Teachers who are chronically late will find themselves getting to class at the same time that their eager little students, filled with as much energy as one of those extreme rides at an action packed theme park, arrive into the classroom. This is a recipe for disaster! New teachers should do everything within their power to get to school at least thirty minutes ahead of the students. If they can be there an hour ahead that is even better because it allows for a few minutes of quiet time.
When teachers get to work early, they have time to center themselves for the day. They can clear their heads, review the goals for the day, pray, meditate, and do anything else that helps to get them into a state where they are ready to give of themselves to their students and fellow staff members. They also have time to do any last minute preps for lessons and activities.
New teachers should leave home early enough to get through any potential traffic problems. They will likely find that as the days and weeks begin to roll by, they will settle into a good routine. Principals are usually quite pleased with the teachers who go out of their way to get to school ahead of schedule.
Flexibility is One of the Best Qualities a New Teacher Can Possess
Beginning teachers need not be rigid when it comes to their expectations of the first few days and weeks of school. Yes, schools are busy places with set schedules and routines, but they can also quickly become scenes of somewhat controlled chaos.
First year teachers may start out teaching one class and find that they are really enjoying the students and are actually beginning to make some headway when they are suddenly whisked away to a completely different grade level or even school. Or perhaps, there is a sudden influx of additional students into a new teacher's already crowded room, completely changing the atmosphere in the classroom. New teachers should be prepared to be flexible and be willing to go outside of their comfort zones at times.
The beginning of the school year can feel like there is a whirlwind going on. New teachers desperately try to keep up with writing lesson plans, gathering materials, developing interesting lessons, keeping students engaged, handling difficult parents, getting to know fellow teachers, and tackling the massive amount of paper work that seems to be taking on a life of its own on their desks. New teachers can definitely benefit from asking lots of questions and should be willing to make adjustments as needed.