Ten Things Every New or Struggling Teacher Needs to Know

Anyone that has been involved in the profession of teaching will tell you that teaching is very stressful. Even the best circumstances, at times, can leave wanting to run your head through a wall. Nothing can eliminate the stresses of education, but there are things that teachers can do to minimize them:

1. You have to manage your class before you can teach your class.  Great lessons don’t “manage themselves.”  You may have a lot of fun ideas for your classroom…but so do your students!  Manage your class so that you can teach your students.

2. Laugh…everyday.  You work with kids so don’t forget to act like one every once in a while.  Teaching is stressful, and a good sense of humor is a crucial part of surviving the stress.  Besides, most stressful moments eventually become humorous memories!  Don’t wait until tomorrow to smile.  Learn to find the humor in the headaches today.  You and your students will be better for it.

3. Time management is a must.  Juggling lesson plans, bus duty, curriculum, parent phone calls, an eleven minute lunch, papers to grade, emails, and committee meetings is a right of passage for all teachers.  However, if you prioritize your time, strive for efficiency and effectiveness, collaborate, and give more quality work instead quantity, time becomes your friend.  Do the most important things first, and then balance the rest as best you can.

4. Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks.  Political correctness is important in today’s educational climate, but some teachers play it so safe that they end up having less personality than a reem of paper.  Have the courage to risk being memorable—risk making a difference.  (howtosurviveteaching.com is not liable for any loss of employment due to following this advice ;)

5. Don’t be a teacher whose students think you sleep at school!  Making and honoring boundaries between work and life is a critical.  Having a life outside of your lessons will add life to your lessons.  Learn how to unplug, unwind, and protect your personal life from that stack of papers.

6.  It’s not “winging it” if no one finds out! Everyone is unprepared from time to time (when technology crashes, the copy machines are down, etc.), but the pros learn how to shoot from the hip without their students catching on.  After all, your class thinking you don’t have a plan is like blood in the water.  So act like you have one…even if you don’t.

7. Expect change.  Before you finish reading this post, a new educational fad will hit the market!  Politicians and educational leaders are idealistic. You, on the other hand, are forced to be realistic.  It isn’t easy to stand at the intersection of rhetoric and reality, but fortunately, good teaching never goes out of style.  If you teach well, you can make trends fit your classroom rather than making your classroom fit trends.

8. Connect with your students before they disconnect from you.  No, your students don’t have to like you or your class…but everything else is so much easier if they do!  Strive to make meaningful connections and maintain positive relationships with your students, and you will find your job gets easier and easier.

9. Encourage.  Chances are you signed up to become a teacher in hopes of making a difference in the lives of children.  Meaningful encouragement creates courage in your students and might just be the most powerful tool you have to shape their future.

10. You will burn out sooner or later.  Know that this is normal, but know how to deal with it.  Learn how to pace yourself, pursue personal interests (outside of teaching), get rest, and get a life.  Be willing to make changes to find a grade level, subject area, and school culture that best fit you as a teacher.  It’s okay to get down at times in your career, but it’s not okay to stay down.

The best news of all is that if you are in it for the right reasons, strive to be better on a daily basis, and are realistic with your expectations, teaching gets easier over time (we promise!). But when you find it doesn’t, look over our site for some more useful tips, hilarious and inspirational videos, and a few much needed laughs!