Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Top Five Things I Have Learned as a First Year Teacher

Yikes where has February gone?!?! Hello March on Friday?!?!
Crazy. We only have three months of school left. Um, hello? How/when did that happen?!

I feel like a broken record when I say that. I have been saying it all year. Only three months until my first year of teaching is over. I have learned so much over the best six months. Way more than in college. 

Here are the top five things I have learned thus far:

1. Classroom management is the most important part of having an effective classroom. And it's infinitely harder when you're in the room by yourself. Going along with that, be tough with your management. My achievement specialist frequently tells me I am too sweet. I am getting better with being tougher, and let me tell you - world of a difference. I don't mess around anymore. Period. And it has made everything so much more enjoyable.

2. The levels of paperwork and hoops to jump through are endless. And time is so limited. I feel like I am constantly being followed by a paper monster. And it feeds off of things in my mailbox. And the things that I need just so happen to go missing. 

3. Copy everything you need for the week either on the Friday before or the day before. Nothing is worse than when you have five minutes left of prep and discover a line at the copier. Especially since our copiers lived with the dinosaurs and one of them is almost always broken. 

4. Document everything! In student teaching, I don't really recall my CT ever documenting behavior, work, etc. I have a file folder for every student that I keep DRA data, our Galileo and AIMS data, any notes from parents, signed deficiency notices, writing data, etc. I have a couple of kids who are very behind grade level, and I was able to pull out these folders to show parents during conferences to show them exactly where their child was and where he/she needs to be.

5. Always stay true to yourself and take everything with a grain of salt. This year has been rough. I'm working on finding myself as a new teacher and am also being told how, what, and when to teach down to almost every minute of the day. It's been hard to form myself as a teacher, but I am trying to make the best of the situation by doing the best I can to follow directions yet remain true to myself as a teacher and to my education at UW-Madison. Madison (where I went to college) is a progressive and liberal city so it's been a challenge to fit into Phoenix where it's much more conservative and structured. But I'll be here for at least a little while longer so I gotta keep trying to fit in while staying true to myself as an educator. Which might be difficult for me since I [sometimes] have a hard time following directions and I tend to go my own way and think for myself...


  1. Hi Liz! I am sharing this post with my student teacher - you are an inspiration, girl!
    Hugs - Lisa
    Growing Firsties

    1. Thanks Lisa! You are too sweet!

  2. Yeah, that pretty much sums it up!! It's great that you realized this so early in the game! ;)

    Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes

  3. Being a first-year teacher is exhausting, right?

    I know I came out of college wanting to do and be everything amazing- and the fact of the matter is that I simply don't have the energy to organize, plan, and make it all... yet. Someday I'll get there, but in the meantime, I'm cutting myself some slack!

    The first one was big for me as a new teacher, too. You find out that if you're tough initially, you don't have to actually be tough very often because they know where those boundaries are.

    My teacher binder is the best thing ever for keeping track of papers, but I'm still buried under piles all the time. It's probably my biggest challenge as a teacher- but I'm slowly figuring out what works for me, and you will too.

    If you need anything... pop over and say hi. I miss you! :)

    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad