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Building blocks for educators

Posted by Hlengiwe Zwane on 13 January 2022, 10:25 SAST
Hlengiwe Zwane photo

If there is one thing that you should know it is this, there is no doubt that there will be successes and failures in your first year of teaching. Starting out your journey in an unfamiliar environment with new faces and processes can cause frightening anticipation. 

We have curated some content on the building blocks that help you maintain your sanity and emotional outbursts in the coming year. Here are some tips from fellow colleges that have had a fair share of their own experience: 

  • Take control. Have a clear discipline plan set up be sure to include both rewards and consequences. Elaborate on these on the first day with your students. Constantly review it throughout the first week with your students to reiterate what will be and what won't be acceptable in your classroom. Having a copy of the rules and the consequences for students to take home and keep them will help amplify the weight of these.

  • Have emergency lesson plans ready to keep students engaged and busy. Children need to be constantly occupied with something as they are easily bored. Having activities that you can refer to can help spare you a classroom full of misbehaving children. 

  • Have a support system. This should be someone that can be able to assist you with your role as an educator, preferably peer support.  

  • Parental support. Having a support system like this can help make your job much easier. When you are not around your students spend just as much time with their parents. So having their support and engagement will help you to accelerate achieving your goals for your students. 

  • Have a professional journal. This should be separate from your notebook, this is a place where you write your professional reflections, growth and learnings. This will help keep you engaged in your professional growth. 

  • Have fun. "Do your best and have fun doing it. Once I finally relaxed, I had a great time," said teacher Tracy Keirns.

So, with thanks to Dawn, Jean, Retta, Jana, Alana, Lisa, Tracy, Lew, Mike, and all the other teachers who responded to our request, Education World compiled a list of the 26 top tips for surviving the first year. We call them

The ABC’s

  • Accountability - Admit your mistakes and learn from them.

  • Be firm but flexible.

  • Communicate - With everyone (Students, peers and parents).

  • Develop a homework policy and stick to it.

  • Empower your students.

  • Find time to attend after-school events.

  • Get to know your peers.

  • Have the courage to try new ways of doing things.

  • Institute a clear discipline policy and enforce it constantly (When needed). 

  • Just listen (what your students are saying and to what they're not saying).

  • Keep a professional journal.

  • Learn your school's procedures and policies.

  • Model desired attitudes and behaviour.

  • No tolerance for disrespect (To you or among students)

  • Overplan.

  • Prepare interesting lessons.

  • Quit worrying, do your best.

  • Remember that you teach students first.

  • Stay alert.

  • Take pictures.

  • Understand that the learning process involves everyone and engage them.

  • Volunteer to share projects and ideas.

  • Work within your limits.

  • Xpect the unexpected.

  • Yell if you need support, not in an aggressive manner.

  • Zero in on your strengths, not your weaknesses. 

You are beginning a rewarding journey, remember that you will make mistakes so take it easy. Be kind to yourself. Take a time out if you are feeling overwhelmed. 

Article by Linda Starr
Education World
Copyright © 2015 Education World

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