Practical Tips for New Teachers, from Veteran Teachers
Shared on 29 March 2022, by Rowan
Practical Tips for New Teachers, from Veteran Teachers – Teacher Appreciation Week
One of the most common concerns for new teachers is managing their classrooms. This concern comes hand-in-hand with worries about building relationships with their students, keeping on top of a busy schedule, and making sure they encourage a cooperative learning environment. After all, it’s a big responsibility – school is one of the most important formative places in children’s lives. Whether you’re a teacher for high school, middle school, elementary school, or kindergarten, this is a common concern for teachers everywhere.
According to many veteran teachers, classroom management strategies have to go beyond just educational concerns though. When you manage a classroom, the cooperative learning environment you create is affected by relationships with your students’ parents and your relationships with your students themselves. Your impact on this formative space is also affected by how you manage your time, and it really depends on making sure you are able to balance your personal life with your work.
This guide is designed with teaching tips in mind that not only directly encourage a cooperative learning environment, but also help make this formative time for new teachers easier too!
With Teacher Appreciation Week coming up this first week of May, we’ve put together five practical tips and tricks for first-year teachers as suggested by veteran teachers. If you use these easy-to-implement teaching tips, you may just find your first year as a teacher goes by much more smoothly.
Make your classroom an environment for cooperative learning by decorating
Decorating your classroom is a great way to make your students excited to be in an educational space. After all, classroom management strategies start in the space they’re held in. It’s a lot easier for students to become meaningfully invested in what they’re learning when their environment is safe and cheerful. By using color to show educational materials in your classroom, you encourage feelings of joy, comfort, and safety. This visual stimulation will greatly aid you in your journey to create a cooperative learning environment.
When you decorate your classroom, you’re telling your students that you care a lot about this space and their experience in it. For many students, education isn’t a thrilling prospect, and it can be hard to get them initially excited about topics like PEMDAS or activities like reading “Romeo and Juliet”. However, if you’re using displays that are cohesive and bright, then you’ll be able to cultivate an environment where students can learn to associate these activities with positive feelings. The research confirms this: dreary classrooms are often found to evoke feelings of distress and anxiety in students.
Your classroom decorations and displays can also be informative. Many students are bound to get distracted at some point (who amongst any adult can say they never got distracted in school?), but it helps if the wall they’re staring at has educational materials on it. If these materials are easily digestible, instead of lengthy texts, then students can absorb the information over the school year.
Informative wall decorations can also encourage a formative learning environment by helping students keep track of concepts as lessons develop.
Make the process of getting school supplies easier for both your students and parents
One of your first tasks as a new teacher will be informing parents of what supplies their students will need for your class. These lists of supplies can be everything from folders to highlighters to textbooks. If you’re teaching a specific technical subject like art, you may have to ask parents to purchase even more specific materials like gouache paints and certain types of sketchbooks.
When you’re putting lists of school supplies together as a new teacher, your primary concern (rightfully so) is making sure your students are prepared. While you might think your list of recommended supplies is straightforward, students and parents can get nervous about buying the wrong type of item – especially if you’re teaching a technical subject. You may find yourself having to answer a lot of questions: like whether mechanical pencils are appropriate, is there a specific type of notebook you would recommend, etc.
These may not seem that daunting, but at the start of the school year, you may find yourself already overwhelmed and this can make the experience even more stressful. When you’re stressed, it can be a struggle to manage your classroom and focus on encouraging cooperative learning.
Instead, we recommend using extensions like Share-A-Cart to help save new teachers time. This will help you by offering parents an exact list of what to buy and where to buy it, and it’s super easy to use. All you have to do is download the extension, create a normal cart with your recommended supplies on a retailer’s website, and Share-A-Cart will generate a link to that cart. Parents can then use the link to directly transfer those items to their own cart! If they want to buy alternatives to the items on your list, at least they can also know specifically what type of items you’re requesting your students to have on hand without asking you.
Make sure students know the rules in your classroom
One of the most important parts of encouraging a cooperative learning environment is making sure that students actually participate in it. This also means that students need to recognize you as an authoritative figure – one they can trust, respect, and listen to. As a new teacher, it’s important that you make sure students know the rules in your classroom (especially because the rules can differ for every teacher)!
A great way to go about this at the start of the year is by having students actively participate in creating classroom rules. You can ask them for recommendations, and make sure they’re involved in the process. This also helps build a trusting relationship with them, which is important in a formative classroom environment. Classroom rules can also help to set the foundation for starting a routine, which is great for cooperative learning.
Remember that not all rules have to be things students should not or cannot do (as an example, “Don’t chew gum in class” is a set rule for many teachers). These rules can also be rewarding, such as providing a sticker or a cute eraser for something like getting all their assignments in on time during the week, or helping another student.