They say hindsight is 20/20, and that holds true in teaching as well. What you know now is
vastly different from what you knew when you first started teaching. So, what advice would you
give your first-year teacher self?
We asked veteran teachers to share their best advice for new teachers and the advice they wish
they had gotten during their first year. You can read their original responses here in our group,
Mrs. D’s VIPs, when joining our online community. Check out the compilation of ideas and
Advice for First-Year Elementary Teachers
Take Time for You
Focus on learning how to balance home life and work as best as you can. Realize it is a constant
struggle and one that you will likely grapple with for your entire teaching career, but it does get
better. Make sure that you treat yourself as kindly as you would treat others and do not be
afraid to set boundaries on your time and energy.
Don’t Expect Others to Do What You Will Not
When you start teaching alongside a paraprofessional, it is important to make sure that you are
showing that you are a team player. That means that everything you expect them to do, you
must also do. If you leave the “dirty work” for your paras and refuse to do it yourself,
resentment will build, and your working relationship will deteriorate. Be willing to get your
Celebrate the Small Wins
First-year teaching is hard! Make a conscious effort to celebrate the small wins instead of
focusing on the negatives. There will be stress, there will be struggles, but there is always
something to be thankful for every day.
Do the Things That Must Be Done First
With so many things to coordinate, plan for, and implement, teaching can be very distracting.
Start each day by making a list of the things that absolutely must be done for that day and
tackle them first. After they are completed, move on to the things you would like to do. This
alleviates the stress of not getting to the things that need to be done and frees up your mental
Build Relationships First
The most important thing in your classroom is not the decor or the way the desks are set up.
The most important thing is your relationship with your students. Focus on building great rapport, trust, and respect before diving headfirst into the curriculum. Your students need to know that your classroom is a safe space and the only way to do that is by building relationships that reflect that.
They Have to Know What You Want Them to Do In Order to Do It
It makes sense that students need to know what behaviors are expected before they can
display them. Still, many first-year teachers make the mistake of jumping into learning before
teaching their students what they expect in terms of behavior and procedures. Spend the first
weeks of school explicitly teaching and modeling the behavior you want so that students can
successfully display it. Kids want to do the right thing; you just need to teach them what that
means for your classroom.
If you are a first-year teacher, what are you struggling with in the classroom? Join our group
and get support from veteran teachers! We will help you navigate this crazy first year of