New Teacher Series: 4 Things I Wish I Learned Sooner

Let's be real... teaching is tough, and the first few years in the classroom are particularly hard!

There are a few things that I wish I would've learned my first few years teaching. These are pretty common things that veteran teachers/ mentors might tell beginning teachers in passing, but new teachers often aren't given concrete ways for implementing the tips.

Trust me, I understand that it's incredibly hard to implement and live by these suggestions, but if I can encourage you to even partially internalize and act on them, then I'm happy!




1) Focus on relationships with students, families, and your colleagues.


Relationships are so important. Putting the time in to build relationships and rapport with your students, their families and your colleagues will go along way. When you have strong relationships with these people, so many positive things will follow.

Something to remember is that no matter how long a teacher has been in the classroom, they will make mistakes. Teachers are humans, not robots. Something I learned my first few years of teaching, is that when you have a relationship with someone, they will be much more understanding when you make mistakes. This goes for your students, their families and your colleagues.

A few simple ways to focus on relationships include:
  • With your students:
    • Make time every day to have fun, laugh and play with your students (you can play a quick game, share a joke of the day, do song/ dance breaks, etc.)
    • Learn about your students' interests and hobbies at recess and at home
    • Ask about their families and friends
    • Greet each student every single morning
    • Do a question of the day to learn more about students
  • With your students' families:
    • Communicate with families regularly (about the positive and the tough things!). You can check out this post for 4 simple ways to communicate with parents. You can also quickly communicate with parents using Google forms
    • Invite and encourage parents to come to school events (like parties/ special events) and after school events. 
    • Share pictures with families from school (via email, text, newsletters, or however your district allows/ suggests)
  • With your colleagues:
    • Schedule time with your classroom team or grade level team to do something fun outside of a work (go to dinner or a movie, go to happy hour, host a brunch, do something in nature, etc.)
    • If you've found a colleague or two who you connect with, schedule a weekly or bi-weekly time for you to each lunch together!
    • Note: Relationships with colleagues are important, but be mindful of who you share information with. You obviously need to keep student information confidential at all times. Make sure you take the time to learn who you can trust at work. 

2) Focus on learning and growing your curriculum.


If you get curriculum provided for your class, spend time really learning it! Observe other teachers implementing the curriculum, read about it online, watch YouTube videos of teachers using it, go to any trainings you can find. Spending time getting comfortable with the curriculum will really increase your confidence!

It's also important to remember that you probably aren't bound to only using the provided curriculum if it isn't working for your students! If this is the case for you and you start making/ building your own materials and supplemental curriculum... then give yourself time! Don't expect to make and have materials laminated and velcroed for every content area your first few years. It takes years and years to build a bank of curriculum and resources, don't compare your resource bank to teachers who have been in the classroom much longer than you!

3) Focus on functional over cute when setting up your classroom. 


It's so easy to get caught up in wanting to create "Pinterest worthy classrooms." As hard as it is, resist it, especially if it's stressing you out or sucking up most of your time/ energy.

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with creating color-coordinated and beautifully designed classrooms. If you enjoy decorating your classroom, that's fine! But make sure your room is  functional before you make it cute! If your room isn't accessible and doesn't promote independence because "cute" before "functional," then your job will only be harder!

A few good general guidelines to follow when setting up your classroom include:

  • Organize your classroom in a way that students and staff can find necessary materials easily and put materials away
  • Label materials with font that students can read and/or with pictures
  • Keep walls and boards minimal to reduce distractions 

4) Give yourself patience and grace. 


It's impossible to learn everything you need to learn to lead a classroom in 4 years of college. Give yourself patience and grace as you get into your groove in the classroom! I like to pick 1-2 areas to really focus on each school year. I obviously teach and work on other areas too, but putting the majority of my energy into 1-2 areas each year can help me master that area and again, build my confidence! I think it's great to do a few things really well instead of feeling like you're floundering in all areas.

Areas I have focused on in past years include:

  • Math groups/ instructions
  • Literacy groups/ instruction
  • Independent work
  • Circle time/ morning meeting instruction 
  • Parent communication/ relationships 
Let me know what you want to see in the next new teacher series! You can comment here, DM me on social media or email me at littlemisskimsclass@gmail.com