10 Tips to Prepare for Your First Year Teaching

Last summer, I was over the moon excited about starting my first {official} year of teaching. I had a million ideas running through my head, but I had no idea where to start. I knew I was going to be teaching third grade, so I did have an idea of what types of materials to start preparing. I did a few things before pre-planning, and I felt good about what I accomplished. Although, there was so much more I could have done. Here are my…

10 Tips to Prepare for Your First Year Teaching

1. Print your standards. 
I printed all of my grade level standards and read through them. After reading the standards, I had a better idea of what I was expected to teach.

2. Visit your classroom.
I highly recommend visiting your classroom before pre-planning. However, you will need to check with your principal first! I was very fortunate to get to start working in my classroom two weeks before pre-planning. Your principal may not let you begin “working” in your room, but he or she might let you peek at it. Visiting your classroom will give you an idea of what materials you do or do not have. I highly recommend taking pictures too!

3. Meet your grade level or department. 
I met with two of my team members for lunch last summer. It was great! They were able to answer most of my questions, and it gave us the opportunity to start a lifelong friendship. We also had a grade level meeting with our whole team before pre-planning started. It was nice to know all of my team members before pre-planning.

4. Decide on a room theme.
You don’t have to have a room theme, but it makes it easier when you start looking for decorations. I had a Hollywood themed classroom this year. I’m undecided if I want to use it again or switch it up.

5. Start printing wall and bulletin board decor.
I highly recommend printing and preparing your classroom decorations as soon as possible. Most classrooms have an alphabet, so I decided to print it first. Since I teach third grade, the students begin learning how to write in cursive. I decided to go with a cursive alphabet that had pictures. My school participates in the Daily 5/Cafe reading model, so I prepared my Daily 5 signs and Cafe Menu board.

6. Create your behavior management system.
There are so many different behavior management systems. I highly recommend speaking with your grade level to see what they are currently using.

7. Start downloading free resources from TeachersPayTeachers.
One of my favorite things to do is browse through the third grade materials on TpT. I always start looking at the FREE items. If I do not find what I’m looking for, then I search through the paid materials.

8. Prepare centers and games.
Depending on what subject area(s) you will teach, I highly recommend to start preparing centers and games. You will discover throughout your first year there are so many things you have to do. I cannot tell you how many weekends I spent preparing centers or math games. If you’re unsure of what types of games to prepare…look at your standards! I would start with making games for math. They are easier to find, and they will most likely be used the most. My students played math games every day after their work was finished.

9. Decide on your lesson plan and gradebook template. 
Ask your teammates about how they organize their lesson plans and gradebooks. Your school may have a particular format that they require you to use. My first quarter of teaching was the most stressful. Why? I was so worried about finding the perfect lesson plan and gradebook format, and I didn’t have time to figure it out. I couldn’t decide if I wanted a paper gradebook or an electronic one.

10. Invest in a laminator.
Most schools have a laminator, but I wouldn’t always count on using it. Schools manage the laminating machines differently, so you might have a limit on how much you can use it. Our laminating machines at school are great! Except, the machine takes FOREVER to heat up. I invested in my own personal laminator in college, and I use it for every thing. The smaller laminators do not take as long to heat up, and the film is more durable. I bought mine at Wal-Mart for $20. You can also purchase them at Staples, Joann’s, Target, and more. 

Do you have any tips you would like to add? I would love to hear from you.