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#7 Blog 2022

June 28, 2022

5 Strategies to Help New Teachers Build Success

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As a new teacher, you are probably filled with a mix of emotions: excitement, hope and anxiety. When you start, it is easy to become overwhelmed. Let’s look at five steps to smooth your transition.

Create a Vision

Initially, have a vision for your first year. Imagine it is the last day of school. Reflect on your first year (that is finished), realizing it was a wonderful year. What happened? What did your students accomplish, and how did they react to your teaching? What did you do to make that happen? Write yourself a letter and then, throughout the year, reread your letter for inspiration.

Plan Ahead

Although it’s important to take time for yourself, it’s also important to take some time this summer to plan ahead for the new school year. How much you do so will depend on how much information you have about your job. For example, if you have a contract, but do not know your school, you’ll only be able to do general planning. However, if you are already placed at your school, subject and grade level, you will be able to plan more specifically. There are a variety of areas you can consider for planning:

Areas to Consider for Planning

  1. Discipline Plan
  2. Organizing Your Space
  3. Personalizing Your Room
  4. Resources You Have
  5. Resources You Need
  6. Ideas for the First Week

Understand What Motivates Students

Student motivation is one of the major challenges for teachers. Students who are not motivated are apathetic, less involved, more resistant to learning and more likely to have discipline issues. However, the reality is that every student you teach is motivated—just not necessarily by what you want them to be motivated by! The strategy is to understand what motivates each student, and activate his or her motivation.

Although extrinsic motivation may have its place, I tend to focus on intrinsic motivation, which is longer lasting. There are two aspects of intrinsic motivation: value and success. If you can tap into students’ values and senses of success, they will be more motivated. What is value? Value has three parts. First, part of value is relevance—real-life application. If students do not see a reason for learning, they will tune you out. This may be how they will use a skill in a job, or it may be the name of a student’s dog in a word problem.

The second part of value is activities. Students are more motivated when they are actively involved. It’s important to find ways to incorporate active learning in your instruction. Finally, value is also seen in your relationship to students. Students want to connect with you. They want to know you care about them. You can show them you care by smiling at them, remembering their names, going to one of their activities, or linking what they like to your lessons.

Students are also motivated by success. If they feel successful, or if they believe they have a chance for success, they are more motivated to learn. Unfortunately, you will teach some students who have never felt successful in school. This makes your job even more challenging. I believe, however, that we have some control over this. We can build opportunities to guarantee student success. For example, rather than calling on students in a group discussion who may or may not know the answer, ask the question, and have students work with a partner to answer the question. As you monitor students, find a student who struggles. Listen to the two students talk, and help them if needed. When you pull back together as a large group, rather than calling on a student who raises his or her hand, say: “Lauren, I’m going to ask you to share—I was with you a couple of minutes ago, and I heard you say the right answer. Since it’s the right answer, will you share it with us?” Notice how I have guaranteed success for this student; I have already told her she is correct, so she is more apt to share.

Begin to Build a Network

No matter how good you are, you will need help your first year (and beyond). Begin to build a support network now so you will have resources when you start teaching. Of course, this begins with teachers and leaders in your own school and district, but there are other outside networks that are valuable. State and national associations have important resources, such as Share My Lesson, and they allow you to connect with others in your same situation, whether that is a grade level, subject area, or specialty such as students with special needs. Many people also find Twitter to be a helpful source for networking. Generally, I find there are high-quality resources that do not charge a fee.

Take Care of Yourself

Finally, one of your biggest challenges will be taking care of yourself. In other words, how do you balance all your teaching responsibilities with your own needs? For me, that was sleep. During my first year, I came to school early, stayed late and slept whenever I wasn’t at school. I was overwhelmed, and just plain tired. It took a couple of years for me to learn to meet my own needs. There is not a perfect answer, but there are seven strategies that can help you balance work and life.

    Strategies for Your Current Situation

    1. Accept that you will never have as much time or resources as you would like.
    2. Accept that the quest for perfectionism may be your enemy.
    3. Work with other teachers.
    4. Create a personal learning network.
    5. Work smarter, not harder.
    6. Remember that small changes lead to bigger ones.
    7. Keep balance in your life.

    A Final Note

    As a new teacher, you are starting one of the most exciting journeys of your life. You will be frustrated, challenged and encouraged, sometimes all at the same time. When you struggle, remember, you make a difference every day—even when you don’t feel like it—especially when you don’t feel like it. Have a wonderful year!

    Managing the Differentiated Classroom Webinar

    Don't miss Barbara Blackburn's for-credit webinar on Managing the Differentiated Classroom for grades K-12.

    New Teacher Collection

    We know as a new educator, you must have a lot of questions (and may be a bit nervous), but that’s where Share My Lesson comes in. We’ve put together a set of resources and practical tools from experts and educators in the field – just for you!

    Barbara Blackburn

    As a teacher, a leader and a university professor responsible for graduate training for educators, Barbara Blackburn has used her knowledge and experiences to write over 25 best-selling books.

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