Posts Tagged ‘New Teachers’

Surviving and Thriving in the First Year of Teaching

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Authors: Region 13 Educator Certification Program Team


Living through that first year of becoming a teacher is something most teachers would not want to do again! The challenges facing a first-year teacher are enormous. On top of getting a handle on classroom management, lesson planning, and the unique working environment of a school, new teachers must also be prepared to have their students perform on the same level as the students of their experienced co-workers.

We wondered . . . how have the first couple of months of school been for new teachers this school year? We interviewed three Region 13 educators to find out.


What surprised you about the first weeks of school?

Rachel: How right everyone was about how hard it was going to be. Nothing can mentally prepare you for how challenging and even scary those first weeks can be.

Tamra: As far as planning goes – I realized it would be a lot of work and I would have no free time – but I had no idea how much work it would be.

Mario: I didn’t realize how tiring it would be to talk all day! It feels like foreign language teachers like me have to talk double. We say something and, if no one understands us, we repeat it. And then we translate so all students know what to do.


What surprised you about your students?

 Tamra: At first, the students were quiet little angels. But that changed! I didn’t realize how hard I would have to work to gain their respect.

Mario: I was surprised about how diverse students are in how quickly they pick something up. Some students get it the first time, but for others you have to loop around again and again. I have all levels of students in all of my classes, and that can be a challenge.

Rachel: The school where I teach is different from the school where I did my student teaching, yet I face the same issues here. I find that kids are kids. There are kids who are excited about learning, and there are kids you have to pull up, no matter where you are.


What challenges have you faced?

Tamra: I can’t believe how much you need to feel out the lesson you are going to do, and how you have to work it over and over again to get it right.

Rachel: Definitely for me, the biggest challenge has been lesson planning and being worried about what to do tomorrow.

Mario: There are the days when I do my planned lesson and I think “What actually stuck?” I sometimes don’t get the return I wanted. It’s good to reflect and change, but it’s hard to realize I didn’t get done what I wanted.


What have you learned about lesson planning and classroom management?

 Rachel: I look back at the evolution of my lesson plans and feel better.  At first, I planned my lessons by creating a huge PowerPoint with tons of bullets. But now the PowerPoint and the lesson are much more pared down. The lessons are more about what the students are doing, not what I am saying.

Mario:  There was a week when I was worried that I was behind, and I had to plow though material. It was so boring! I was relieved when I found out we don’t get through the whole book in the year. I don’t want the kids to think “this is the place where we memorize words” . . . I want my classroom to be a place where they learn to communicate.

Tamra: After the first couple of weeks I was struggling with classroom management, and I thought “Do we have to keep these same kids after the first semester? Really?”  But now I’m already thinking about how I will miss them in May. It’s so true that the class that drives you crazy can become your favorite.


What support that you’ve gotten from other teachers helped you this semester?

 Tamra: I had discussions with the teachers on my team about what to expect from homework and activities. They helped me channel my energy. They’ve also given me a lot of help with resources and been really responsive to emails.

Mario: Every person in my department has been teaching for more than nine years, and they are so willing to help. Sometimes I get there in the morning, and someone will have stuck helpful worksheets or activities in my box. They remember what it is like to be a new teacher.

Rachel:  My team has been very supportive and shown confidence in me. They don’t hover; they show me that they think I can do it.

Mario: I definitely want to show that I can handle the work, but I also want my fellow teachers to help me. Sometimes it’s hard to know how to ask for help.