Congratulations to all the new teacher graduates around the world. After years of study and teaching placements, you made it! And I’d like to take this opportunity to warmly welcome you to the MJLL community, so glad that you found us.
As a former teacher myself, I understand that beautiful mix of excitement, apprehension and nervousness you’re feeling about starting your first official teaching job ever. You’re unsure about what to bring with you, how to best prepare and what to expect at your new school.
Don’t worry my newest BFF! Myself and the MJLL community have got many, many pearls of wisdom from our collective and extensive teaching experiences to share with you. Hopefully, our top teacher tips for the graduate class of 2022 squash some (if not all!) of your first-day nerves.
My top tips for teacher graduates
Looking back there are several things I wish I could tell wide-eyed twenty-something Chantelle before she kicked off her first teaching gig. So here are my top 8 pieces of advice I wish I’d been privy to before I stepped into my first term of teaching.
Staff room etiquette
Don’t assume that it’s a free-for-all for coffee cups in the staffroom. You’ll want to BYO coffee cup from day one! Trust me on this, using another teacher's favorite coffee cup is a sure way to make an enemy quicksmart 🤣
A word of warning new grads, there may be a limit on your printing…‘but it’s for my class?!’ I hear you say! Well, that doesn’t matter – in many schools, you’ll find that each teacher has a special printing code and once you’ve reached your printing capacity for the term…well – you’re on your own baby! And please don’t even get me started on color printing...
My tip, when printing classroom decor or products from Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT), always print test pages first. AND be careful to only select the actual page numbers you require – don’t print the entire document as you may not need it all and that’s a sure-fire way to unwittingly blow your printing quota.
Utilize your local thrift shops and secondhand stores to purchase things for your classroom such as books and cushions for the classroom library. There is no need to go and splash out on brand-new books and accessories for your teacher collection. I know you might prefer fresh ones – I get it – BUT…after being in the classroom for a year expect dog ears, unwelcome doodling and lots of sticky taped pages and you’ll be SO thankful you went down the secondhand route.
@miss_grosse_’s cosy reading nook is classroom library goals.
Patience pays off
I know you’re super pumped and can’t wait to make your classroom the most spectacular and engaging learning space your school and students have ever seen. BUT I’m here to rain on your Pinterest board-making classroom decor parade to suggest having a little patience. I recommend not going on a shopping spree and caving to the temptation to purchase ALL OF THE THINGS right away, not until you:
A. See your classroom and the space you have to work with.
B. Know your school’s policy on bringing in furniture and items from home.
C. See what resources you have access to.
D. And you have confirmation on what year level you are teaching.
Clear your schedule
Cancel all after school plans for the first 2 weeks of Term 1 – trust me – you are going to be totally exhausted… like, next-level tired. Think: take a nap on the couch at 5.30pm and wake up at 8pm tired. Term 1 hits HARRRD – no matter how long you’ve been in the game. You’re learning so many new things and you’ve just been on summer break where you’ve most likely been sleeping in most days – you’re going to need some quiet, restful downtime when you get home! Stock up on some bubble bath, herbal tea or trashy magazines. Maybe even get meal preppin’ and freeze some nourishing meals before the first day of school. Have all the things you need to relax and recharge on hand so you get quality rest after big days at school.
If you have been given an early years role, expect to be sitting on the carpet – A LOT! I found comfy, loose pants and long flowy skirts and dresses the best way to go. Anything fitted might end up being too restricting and uncomfortable when sitting on the floor with your little learners.
Flowy skirts and loose pants make for all-day comfort when sitting on the floor with your little learners. @teachertalkbyalina gets it.
Invest in a HUGE water bottle and plonk it in an area that is accessible and in your line of sight for most of the day (near the whiteboard?). I can’t tell you how many times I have gone the entire day without a sip of water because I’d left it on my desk and hadn’t sat there the whole day!
Make up a teacher toolbox
Do yourself a favor and grab yourself a teacher toolbox – it will become one of your teacher must-haves because not only does it create a place to store all those pesky little things that end up rolling around in your top desk drawer – it is also a great place to hide your stash of lollies or chocolates when you need a sugar rush before your 3.30pm staff meeting!
The MJLL community’s top tips for teacher graduates
I’m consistently blown away by the smarts, enthusiasm and kindness of the fabulous teachers of the MJLL community. So on my socials, I recently asked “what are your top tips for the graduating class of 2022?” knowing some valuable advice bombs were about to be dropped in my inbox. Here are some of the wise words seasoned teachers have for you and the graduating class of 2022:
Some inspirational advice from the MJLL community.
“Video your practice and reflect. Seek a positive mentor to help.”
“Visit your colleagues and watch what they do. Ask questions and be open to learning.”
“Embrace mistakes!! Teaching is a hard job and you won’t always get it right!!”
“The to-do list is never-ending and it’s ok not to do it all.”
“Set boundaries with your time and stick to them - you do not have to do emails on weekends!”
“Build relationships with parents, students and staff. Make connections with families.”
“Find the positive voices in the school; steer clear of politics.”
“Ditch behavior charts or anything that publicly shames students.”
“Don’t mark EVERY piece of student work. Teach students to self-assess &/or give peer feedback.”
“Be clear with your rules and routines. Teach and positively reinforce them regularly!”
Pat yourself on the back
“Celebrate the successes, no matter how small they may seem.”
Are you a recent grad wanting to learn more? Here are my top teacher tips for landing your first teaching job, advice for introducing yourself to your students and classroom setup inspiration.
Wishing you all the very best with your first day of school BFF. I hope your first teaching job is everything you’ve dreamed of and more. Good luck grads! I have a hunch this is the start of something amazing 😉.