5 Lessons Learned: My First Year of Teaching

My first year of teaching feels like it was eons ago! Looking back now it is all a blur.  All I can remember is this overwhelming feeling of terror, confusion, and eagerness all rolled into one. Despite my feelings, my first year of teaching was a roller coaster ride of ups and downs that I will never forget.  There are so many lessons I learned during my first year of teaching that helped shape the teacher I eventually became. With this in mind, I thought I would share my top 5 lessons learned during that first year with all of the "soon to be" teachers out there.  Here it goes...

Here are the lessons I learned during my first year of teaching! New teachers are going to want to read this!

1. Don't Compare Yourself to Others! 

This is something that we all do. However, as a first-year teacher, this can be tragic!  You are brand new and have a lot to learn.  Comparing yourself to a teacher that has been around and has his or her classroom running like a well-oiled machine is only going to have a negative impact on you as a professional. This is especially true with Social Media.  You can't go on Instagram without seeing a classroom that looks like it belongs in a catalog.  Don't compare yourself to that, just don't! My advice? Go into your first year of teaching with the intention of learning from everyone around you. Learn what to do and what not to do. Don't worry about if you are "Keeping up with Ms. Jones".  Just do the best YOU can do! That is enough.
Here are the lessons I learned during my first year of teaching! New teachers are going to want to read this!

2. It's Okay to Make Mistakes (because you will...)

Yep! You are not perfect. You are going to make lots of mistakes.  You might accidentally leave a student in the lunchroom, forget to take attendance, send students to the library at the wrong time, or lose a stack of papers you were meaning to grade (Oops!).  Just know that you are going to make lots of mistakes, but you will recover and learn from all of them.

3. Just Say NO!

I am a people pleaser. I love to say "yes" and help whenever I can. During my first year of teaching, I learned the hard way that it is critical to say NO sometimes.  By the third month of school, I was head of the math committee, helping with after school programs, teaching a morning class for struggling writers, and helping in the cafeteria. Ummm...No! Well, that's what I should have said when asked to do all of these things. After my first year, I quickly learned the importance of limiting what I do for others and not spreading myself too thin. Being a first-year teacher is hard.  Be the hero later. 
Here are the lessons I learned during my first year of teaching! New teachers are going to want to read this!


I clearly remember one evening when I was preparing my classroom for the next day. I was arranging materials for a science experiment when I suddenly looked out the window and noticed it was dark. WHAT!?  That was the moment I realized I had to set limits for myself.  Yes, I could have spent my entire day (and night) in my classroom. However, I quickly knew this wasn't healthy and wasn't making me a better teacher.  Don't burn yourself out your first year of teaching. Pace yourself. You'll thank me later.

5. Simplify What You Can

Yes! This! Simplify!  It is so easy to overcomplicate things during your first year. Don't! As you come up with new systems for your classroom, whether it be taking attendance, bathroom policies, homework systems, etc., be sure to keep things simple.  

One system I quickly learned to simplify was my homework system. At first, I was assigning random workbook pages, textbook problems, and worksheets I had printed from the internet. My students would forget what I had assigned and it was a headache to keep up with. Finally, I started using a homework system that was more consistent and was easy for EVERYONE to keep track of.

If you want to learn more about my simple homework system, click here.

You can also check out my Math Homework blog post for more details!

Here are the lessons I learned during my first year of teaching! New teachers are going to want to read this!

These were definitely some important lessons I learned during my first year of teaching. However, over the years, I learned a ton of valuable lessons. If you want to read more, check out my post "Handy Tips for Teachers: Lessons I Learned While Teaching".

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