After student teaching, the next logical step is to apply for teaching jobs, but there is much to do once that first teaching job is accepted. Student teaching is a great experience, but it falls far short of giving you the tools you need for your first teaching job. In truth, nothing is going to truly prepare you your new career, but there are some steps to take that will make the transition from student to teacher go more smoothly. Following these five steps will help a great deal.
- 1. Find a mentor: Most reputable school districts will assign first year teachers a mentor to help them out. Unlike your student teaching mentor or university supervisor, this person is not there to evaluate but simply as a support. This person is going to be your lifeline throughout the year. Utilize them for ideas, emotional support, and advice on difficult situations. When you are hired you should try to get in contact with this person as quickly as possible.
- 2. Prepare your materials: Undoubtedly, your student teaching mentor was a veteran teacher with years of accumulated materials and supplies. You must remember that you will be starting your career with the bare minimum. If you are fortunate enough to get hired early in the summer than you should begin building up your materials as much as possible. This will include project examples, classroom décor, and lesson plan units for science and social studies (the sad fact is that many districts don’t have curriculums for these subjects). Keep in mind that the more prep hours you put in during the summer, the less late nights at the school you are going to have.
- 3. Classroom Library: For some students, the books they read at school are the only books they have access to. It is vital that you start building a diverse classroom library. There are many ways to do this economically Garage and yard sales will often have cheap children’s books for sale. Many second-hand book stores will offer you a discount if you let them know that you are a teacher. One of the most important things you can do once you start teaching is get a Scholastic account and start doing book orders. Scholastic offers teachers a plethora of ways to earn classroom points for free books.
- 4. Discipline Plan: Your student teaching mentor undoubtedly had a strong discipline plan that was implemented in his or her classroom. You need to remember that discipline is now your responsibility. It is absolutely imperative that you have a well thought out discipline plan prepared before students arrive. It is just as important to note that this plan will undoubtedly change once you become accustomed to your class and the dynamic of your students. Sites like Pinterest offer many different discipline models, and you will have to decide what works for you. There are three keys to good discipline models: is it easy to understand, is it consistent, and is it easy to implement.
- 5. Take care of yourself: The most important thing to remember when you begin your new career is to not burn yourself out. Your first few months teaching will offer more challenges and learning experiences that most of the time spent in college earning your degree. It is vital to remember to unwind and recharge your batteries. Don’t be afraid to take a night off every now and then or confide in a friend if you are stressed. It’s no exaggeration to say that this is one of the most difficult professions in the world, and you will need to keep yourself healthy in all respects in order to do a good job.
I hope that using these few steps will help make your first year teaching enjoyable and slightly less stressful. There will no doubt be struggles your first year, but I promise that the payoff in the end is well worth it. Teachers truly have an incredible impact on the world, and you should feel great pride that you can be part of that.