Tip # 1: Be kind to yourself
You are in a new job, in a new environment, with new people, and a new curriculum. You're not going to be perfect and nobody (other than yourself) expects you to be!
Tip # 2: Don't over-plan your lessons
This may seem counterintuitive, so give me a second to explain.
That being said, you should always put a great deal of effort into planning the lesson in front of you at that time. The more you plan, the less likely you will be to run into trouble. Try to keep a few filler games in your back pocket too for those days where you get through material more quickly than expected.
This is HUGE! You're not going to have time to fill out those fancy lesson plan templates you were forced to do while student teaching (unless of course you are required to turn them in to your administration, and then you better make that a priority!). But you HAVE TO keep good notes about what you did, what worked, and what totally failed. My favorite way to do this is in Google Sheets. I create a template for each quarter and a new tab for each week.
- 3-3 Billy whispered something to Bobby. Bobby put his head down and was upset.
- 3-4 Billy took a pencil off Suzy's desk and laughed when she couldn't find it.
- 3-5 Billy rolled his eyes and whispered something under his breath that made other students laugh when the teacher assigned him to be partners with Bruno.
So while I don't recommend that your over-plan your lessons because you will undoubtedly wind up changing them, I highly recommend that you over-plan your procedures. This doesn't mean they cannot change, but make sure you are deliberate and explain why you are going to change a procedure so you don't look wishy-washy to your students. Students crave routine and order, so make sure you have procedures in place for them. I will write a future post about my procedures.
Tip # 5: Don't be afraid to deviate from the book
This one is for the language teachers specifically, although it may apply to other areas as well. If your school uses a textbook, you don't have to go in order. I don't. Our department has decided that we want to finish 4 chapters by the end of the year, but how you get there is completely up to you. I only use my book as a starting place, but I create 95% of my own materials (many of which are for sale here in my TpT store!). Looking back, I don't know if this was something I could have done my first year. For me, the biggest unlock for going out of order was teaching the verb "ser" and then having to teach regular -AR verb conjugations. My kids just couldn't get it. The following year, I taught -AR verbs first, spent way longer teaching pronouns to help set up the pattern, and then taught "ser." This made things a million times easier for my students because they already knew the pattern, so it gave them some context when I had to explain that "ser" was irregular. Another example of this came up when I was teaching a chapter on vacation words. Sequentially, it came up right after spring break, and my students kept commenting "This would have been really helpful if you taught it to use before break!" So the following year I moved some things around and made sure to get to it right before break, which was much more practical for all of us! So don't be afraid to move things around to best meet the needs of your students.
What other suggestions do you have? Post them in the comment section below!