Being a new teacher is never easy, but it can be especially challenging if you are starting teaching midyear. If that is you, you will be entering a classroom full of students who have already been trained and adapted to another teacher’s way of doing things. Some will even test you to see how much they can get away with. As scary as that may sound, there are certain practices you can implement immediately that will make starting teaching midyear much easier.
Teach First, Decorate Second
When we log onto Instagram and Pinterest, all we see are beautifully decorated classrooms. But, keep in mind, that is what the people posting want you to see. They don’t want you to see the days when their classroom is a mess or not so beautifully decorated.
While social media can be a great tool for teachers, it can often leave new teachers with unrealistic expectations. Expectations that their classroom must have a theme and be ornately decorated. If you are starting teaching midyear, having lots of classroom decorations should be one of the last things you think about. Sure, it is important to create a place that you and your students enjoy going to each day, but you do not have to spend a ton of money and time creating that space. As a new teacher, your priority should be classroom management and understanding your standards so that you can teach effectively. A classroom theme can never take the place of a high-quality teacher.
Make Classroom Management a Priority
It does not matter what time of the year you are starting, classroom management should always be the number one priority. Your students’ success depends on whether you are able to maintain control of your classroom. If students are constantly acting out, they will not get the most out of the instruction and you will quickly experience teacher burnout.
There are a few things you should keep in mind if you are starting teaching midyear. First, keep it simple. If you search for classroom management ideas online, you will find hundreds of results. It can be tempting to want to try everything, but it will be easiest for you and your students if you keep things simple.
Second, keep in mind that not all classroom management strategies work for all classes. Just because a classroom management technique worked with one class does not mean it works for this class. If you are looking for some additional help with classroom management, I wrote another blog post with classroom management strategies just for new teachers.
Avoid First Year Teacher Burnout
Teacher Burnout is a real thing, especially for new teachers. One of the best ways to combat teacher burnout is by taking time for self-care. As a new teacher, there is constantly something to do such as planning lessons, searching for classroom resources, developing a positive classroom management plan, and building relationships with students. If you are not careful, burnout can set in quickly.
It is important to take time for things you enjoy each week. Just because you are starting teaching midyear, does not mean you have to give up the things you enjoy. Also, keep in mind, that the middle of the school year is cold and flu season. Remember to do things that will keep your body healthy and strong for teaching such as drinking plenty of water and getting a good night’s rest.
Find a New Teacher Support Group
Like any year of teaching, starting teaching midyear will have both great moments and challenging moments. It is important to find a positive support system of teachers who can encourage and help you when the challenging moments arise. Some districts offer great support groups for new teachers. If your district does not offer a support group, that’s okay. We live in a digital age and there are lots of great teacher communities online. I offer a free, private community just for new teachers. This is a place where new teachers can ask questions and receive training and support without fear of judgment. Being a part of teacher communities like this one have helped me tremendously throughout my teaching career.
Find the Positive Teachers
When looking for a teacher support group, it is incredibly important to find the right group of teachers. What we let in, is what will come out. What I mean by that is if you are constantly fed negativity, you are going to become more negative. But, if you are constantly being fed positivity, you will become a ray of positive light within your school and for your students. Make sure to surround yourself with people and things who are lifting you up and feeding you positivity.
Remember, All New Teachers Make Mistakes
As a new teacher, expect to make mistakes. Even veteran teachers who have been teaching for 20 years make mistakes. It is impossible to know everything about teaching when curriculums are constantly changing and each school year is filled with 20 new students, each with their own unique personality.
Sometimes when I made mistakes as a new teacher, it made me question whether I should be a teacher. If this thought ever pops into your mind, remember that being a teacher is a calling. Since teaching is something you have been called into, you cannot fail. You may make mistakes, but those mistakes will not overshadow the difference you make in the lives of children.
Learn Even More Tips for First-Year Teachers
No matter whether you are starting teaching midyear or at the beginning of the year, you will find that there is still so much to learn. College only does so much to prepare you and then you are left filling in the remaining gaps on your own. It took me more than two years to fill in those gaps and become confident in the classroom. I would search online for training programs for new teachers, but there wasn’t anything to be found.
Over the years, I have talked to so many new teachers who feel underprepared and overwhelmed. That’s why I started a one of a kind program just for new teachers called the New Teacher Toolbox. This program provides a video series training on important topics such as classroom management solutions, time-saving lesson planning strategies, and ways to engage students. In addition to the video training series, members also receive live training sessions with experienced educators and access to a members-only community of positive teachers.
If I had access to a program like this early in my teaching career, I would have had less stress and more time for me. We open enrollment into the New Teacher Toolbox several times per year.
Starting teaching midyear will have its challenges, but by implementing strategies like the ones listed above, you will be setting yourself up for success. If you are looking for even more tips and strategies for new teachers, be sure to download my New Teacher Survival Guide. This guide is packed with 15 proven strategies to help new teachers through their first years in the classroom.
Looking for even more resources and ideas just for new teachers? Be sure to check out these other blog posts: