Back-to-School Advice From Teachers, For Teachers

Educators Share Advice for First-Year Teachers

McGraw-Hill
Aug 12 · 4 min read

As back-to-school season approaches, many first-year teachers are heading into their new classrooms to begin their very first “first day” of school. The first day back is always full of jitters, even for the most experienced educators, but for new teachers it can be very overwhelming. To help, we asked veteran educators from the Art of Teaching Project to share their best advice for new teachers.

Here’s what they had to share:

“Take the time to organize yourself. Create data sheets, schedules, online documents, email folders, etc. Once things start going during the year, you’re not going to go back and organize. If you take the time to do it before things get too crazy, you’ll thank yourself later!” — Karen Atchman, Special Education Teacher


“First and foremost… accept that it doesn’t all have to get done by the first day of school. Focus on what your main message that you want your scholars to know about your classroom on the first day of school. Spend time with your team talking and planning. Spend time on your own just being in the moment. Finally, just breathe. Hope you all have a memorable and meaningful year!” — Dean Deaver, Elementary School Teacher


“I am grateful to be returning to work after a summer of family, friends, and fun. Attitude is everything and if I allow myself to relax into the moment of returning back to school without any worries or expectations, I am setting myself up for another amazing year of growth for my students and myself. Rather than anguish over lesson plans, class sizes, schedules, or gathering supplies, the week before returning to my classroom I settle myself into a comfortable sleep routine and engage in self-care. After 34 years of classroom teaching, I have learned there will be plenty of time during the year for me to write those lessons plans and put up my bulletin boards. Therefore, the best advice I can give to teachers returning to school is to settle into a healthy exercise, eating, and sleep routine and do something joyful and fun the week before returning. Your students and colleagues will notice the smile on your face and enjoy the warm and nurturing learning environment you have created.” — Diane Wolk-Rogers, History Teacher


One blogger and special education teacher invited us to share her post with advice about cultivating meaningful relationships with students. Here’s an example strategy from the blog:

Get to know them. I know we are busy and we have to cover the curriculum, so when do we get to know our students? It really only takes a minute or two each day. Every week choose 1 or 2 students to spend 2 minutes with them. You need to ask them questions about themselves and share information about yourself. You can also sit with them at lunch. Kids love to have extra attention at lunch. This is also a very low threat for students because it is a social situation instead of an academic setting.”

Read the full post here:

Co-teachers Nina Sethi and Gabby Arca also invited us to share a blog post of theirs with actionable strategies. In this post, Gabby and Nina initially focus on strategies for learning students’ names. Here’s a sample activity they share:

Name Stories: these are always fascinating, validating, and so much fun! I always introduce name stories with a read aloud (see name related read aloud ideas below), and then give students prompts to interview each other and ask about the story of their name. Students can share as much as they like or choose to focus on one aspect of their name that feels good to them.”

Read the full blog here:

Thanks to all of the educators who shared their advice in this post, and best of luck to all of the first-year (and veteran) educators who are heading to the classroom this season! We can’t wait to hear about the learning opportunities you create.


Inspired Ideas

Resources, ideas, and stories for K-12 educators. We focus on learning science, educational equity, social and emotional learning, and evidence-based teaching strategies. Be sure to check out The Art of Teaching Project, our guest blogging platform for all educators.

McGraw-Hill

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We apply the science of learning to create innovative educational solutions and content to improve outcomes from K-20 and beyond.

Inspired Ideas

Resources, ideas, and stories for K-12 educators. We focus on learning science, educational equity, social and emotional learning, and evidence-based teaching strategies. Be sure to check out The Art of Teaching Project, our guest blogging platform for all educators.

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