As I look back over my teaching career, I realize I made a ton of mistakes and also did a few things right along the way. This reflection made me realize that I’ve learned some valuable lessons and I want to share them with teachers everywhere. If you are reading this, I hope you can take a few tips or thoughts from this post and apply them to your teaching career. At the end of this post, I’m going to share some of my favorite “teacher quotes” with you that I hope will give inspiration when needed.
Tip #1: Be Consistent
No matter what you are doing, be consistent. If you set up a new homework system, a new way of doing math centers, or you are trying out a new behavior management system, be as consistent as you can. When you implement a system with your students but only do it some of the time, it becomes confusing, and chaos is inevitable. Students respond positively when they know what to expect. Set your expectations and follow through.
Tip #2: Stay Organized
As someone who loves to be organized, this is easy for me to say. However, it is such a critical part of being successful. Each week, month, or year, develop and perfect systems that will help you stay organized. The best way to do this is to make sure you have a place for everything! I keep a “teacher binder” for all of my lesson plans and important papers. If I need anything, I know exactly where it is. Also, whether you use a filing cabinet or digital folders on your computer, keep all documents in their place. Organizing in this way will help when you need to find something for next year.
Tip #3: Make Things to Last
When putting together a new resource, it is so tempting just to print it and go. However, think about how you can preserve this resource so that you can use it over and over again. Whenever putting together new math games for math centers, or even my favorite grammar games, I always make sure I laminate and reinforce everything I can. This has saved me a lot of time in not having to recreate resources.
Tip #4: Teachers Pay Teachers is Your Friend!
Teachers Pay Teachers was not as known or used when I was in the classroom. When searching for resources, I was left scouring the internet for anything I could find, which typically meant poor quality and not exactly what I needed. Now, teachers have the ability to find quality resources in just minutes by using TpT. Do yourself a huge favor and use Teachers Pay Teachers to save yourself valuable time. If the resources your school is providing just aren’t cutting it, go to Teachers Pay Teachers and find the perfect resource.
Tip #5: PURGE!
Purging is simple. Throw things away if you aren’t planning on using them again. You don’t want to end up on a special episode of “Teacher Hoarders”. Here is my rule: If I have an activity that I’ve used in the past but did not use it at some point this school year, it goes in the trash. When you have too many files and resources, it makes it harder to find the things you love. Plus, if you ever have to move classrooms, which you will at some point, it will be much easier to accomplish.
Tip #6: Don’t Grade it Unless You Have To!
The idea of not having to grade everything took me a long time to learn. You don’t have to grade everything! Some things are meant to be graded and need to be. On the other hand, some assignments can be quickly reviewed, peer-graded, or graded by the individual student.
Tip #7: Make it Meaningful! (Quality over Quantity)
If it isn’t going to add real value to your students’ learning, let it go (insert Frozen music here). I’m not a “fluff” teacher. I don’t typically do an activity with my students just because it is cute or will make a “Pinterest Perfect” bulletin board. Yes, those things can occasionally be fun, but this isn’t where the real learning happens. Don’t get caught up in what looks cute. Just be sure that whatever you are doing, it is meaningful.
Tip #8: Always Have Next Year in Mind
Before the school year even begins, I’m already thinking about next year. Make sure you save a copy of your procedures, routines, and anything new you are doing so that next year you have everything ready to go. There is no need to reinvent the wheel each school year. This is especially true with lesson plans. Consider using digital lesson plans so that you can save a copy and quickly edit them as needed the following school year.
Tip #9 Have FUN!
Simple, right? Sometimes it is easy to forget that you need to have a good time while teaching! Don’t get so caught up in the paperwork, politics, or behavior issues that you forget to stop and enjoy what you are doing. You are making a real difference in the lives of your students whether it feels like it or not. When you start to get stressed, stop, take a deep breathe and remember why you became a teacher in the first place.
Be sure to check out my other blog post “Lessons I Learned During My First Year of Teaching” for five more great tips!
Here are a few of my favorite teacher quotes. I hope you find them at just the right moment.