Most teachers will admit that the first year is the hardest, and most people look at middle school teachers as if they are martyrs. Though teaching is difficult, you can love it. Here are five tips to ease your transition into teaching.
Set procedures- Middle school students are just leaving elementary school and long for that structure as they adjust to new responsibilities and expectations. Try to think of the questions that students might have, and outline a plan or procedure that will answer them. What do I do when I enter your classroom? What if I have to go to the bathroom? What do I do with my homework?
Adopt a language of choice– Give your students an internal locus of control. Providing choices allows you to say “yes” instead of “no.” In addition, using language like, “You choose not to complete your work while the rest of the class did. By choosing not to do it then, you are choosing to work on it while the rest of us are at recess,” forces the student to take responsibility for his/her actions.
Maintain contact with parents- Send a classroom newsletter regularly. Host a parent night for your subject. Call parents to tell them when something has gone wrong, but also call to praise. Parents will appreciate hearing from you. Make sure that you document this communication as well.
Remember that it is your classroom- My first year of teaching, I tried to implement everyone’s suggestions. I changed a classroom management plan that was working, only to confuse my students. I assigned independent work more over interactive learning games, even though my data showed the games were working. Two months into the year I realized that it was not my classroom anymore. Be humble (your students can help with that), but if what you have is working, don’t fix it. It is your classroom. Put your teaching style and your personality into it. Your students will benefit when you’re being yourself.
Take a day off- You likely went into teaching because you love children. Teachers work long hours in stressful situations. On Saturday or Sunday each week, do not think about school. Go shopping, watch movies, take a hot bath, or whatever it takes, but you have to relax. You need that mental health break to continue to enjoy this wonderful and rewarding profession.