1. Resources are Everywhere
Over the span of this school year, I have found so many wonderful resources just sitting in faculty lounges or computer labs. Many of them looked to be untouched since last year. Don't be afraid to do some digging and find some gems. I found 5 over-sized timelines of American history just sitting on a shelf! If another teacher is switching subjects or retiring, ask if you can look through their materials. My Student Teaching Mentor was retiring and gave me tons of posters and booklets. NEVER be afraid to ask other teachers in your subject or grade level what materials or lessons they have to spare. Check with your curriculum coordinator or your department head to see if you can rummage through a textbook room or curriculum room. I would have saved myself so much money if I would've talked to other teachers before buying movies to show in class. Almost every one I bought was already owned by another teacher.
2. Amazon Prime is your Friend
This may relate more to the secondary teachers, but I could not believe how much money Amazon Prime has actually saved me. Biting the bullet and paying the membership was totally worth it. Any teaching supplies I order are cheaper and shipped at a lower cost. The best thing is the Prime Instant Video Library. I have access to thousands of movies, TV shows, documentaries, all at the click of a button. Added bonus for you kindle readers is the Kindle Lending Library!
3. Become BFFS with the Librarian.
Even if they are the worst person you have ever met, GET CLOSE TO THE LIBRARIAN! They will be more apt to help out your students. lend you supplies, help you find resources, or help you with projects. My librarian is so wonderful! Anytime I need papers laminated, I can send them to the library and her or her aides will take care of it and bring it to me when its done. I don't have to spend precious planning period time standing in front of a laminating machine. She also has volunteered to give the students a presentation over researching information in the library and finding sources. They get the info from the woman who knows this by heart, not their 1st year history teacher that can barely remember where the library is.
4. Keep all your receipts!
I knew that most teaching supplies could be tax deductible, but I never realized how much it would help. I am kicking myself for not keeping a receipt for every time I went to Mardels or even Target and bought school supplies. Everything from paper and pencils to posters and workbooks are deductible. It adds up quicker than you think. I started keeping a stack of receipts in my desk drawer, stuck together with a paperclip. Most of the time the supplies would never make it out of the shopping back until I got to my classroom so this was the best way for me to make sure I didn't accidentally throw them away.
5. MAKE COPIES OF EVERYTHING!
While your copy count may be limited, it is worth it to make copies of everything you do. I find myself upset that I passed out every copy of certain worksheets or tests and stupidly forgot to make an extra copy for myself or at least save it on the computer. Many of the activities I did at the beginning of the year are gone or not the most updated. I found the best way for me was to scan everything. I created a Microsoft OneDrive account and linked it to my phone, desktop, and home laptop. Other options are Dropbox or Apple iCloud. Not only is everything organized and accessible, but I don't run the risk of my computer crashing or papers getting ruined. I use a free doc scanner app on my phone to quickly "scan" something onto my phone, then just upload it to "the cloud".
Making copies also applies for disciplinary actions. Anytime you write a detention slip, referral, email, or letter about a student make sure you print off or scan a copy. This documentation will save you a lot of frustration when a parent or student tries to call you out on something. I have all my documentation in a 3-ring binder labeled classified. I can easily sort through it and pull out what I need for parent teacher conferences or even IEP meetings.
6. You're allowed to do "book work" or "busy work"
Sometimes, there is just no other way to get the information across. It may be a passage they need to read for state requirements and the best and least time-consuming way to finish it is to do what you might consider "busy work". It is okay. Sometimes you need to assign something simple just to check for understanding, Even amazing teachers have to resort to worksheets sometimes. Don't stress yourself trying to come up with the most amazing lesson ever created. Every lesson can't be golden. This doesn't make you a bad teacher, it makes you human
7. It's okay to feel defeated.
You will have bad days. I know they warn you in college, but it does nothing to prepare you for the days you question your choices or wonder how you got to this point. Don't give up. There are a million other teachers who have had the same experience. Talk to someone. Tell them what is frustrating you and I can guarantee many of them would offer advice or sympathize. They know its hard, you know its hard, we all do. Take a deep breath, take a lap down the hall before class starts, give yourself a mini pep-talk, and move on. Hongkiat.com has a great list of 10 websites to help you de-stress and stay calm. Another awesome way to combat defeat is to listen to Spotify.com. They have awesome stations called Get Happy, Mood Booster, and Have a Great Day that always make me feel awesome.
8. There is no such thing as too many Kleenex
This may sound kind of ridiculous, but I'm serious. Children are gross, sticky, slimy creatures and Kleenex keep you from dealing with it all day long. I was not prepared to buy so many boxes of Kleenex. You would not believe how happy I was at Christmas when my fiance bought me a 12 pack of Kleenex. Its already gone and I'm regretting having to buy more. They are one of the most vital classroom resources ever. This may seem like a joke, but its not. They literally are disgusting creatures.
9. Don't buy supplies for students
This may sound mean but hear me out. I understand helping a student who can't afford to buy classroom supplies, they're the exception. What I mean is don't have pencils, or paper, or pens readily available for students to use. Why? because they will become dependent on you providing it. They won't bring supplies to class because they'll know you'll have it for them. I cannot tell you how many boxes of pencils I have gone through or how many packets of paper I have purchased. I wish I wouldn't have provided it to them because now they expect it to be there. It would've been easier to provide a little bit for certain students. I practically live at staples now.
10. You don't have to take work home with you
Some days it will seem like you just HAVE to take all your work home and grade it as fast as possible. Sometimes you'll feel the urge to spend hours on planning out the rest of the month in advance. You might even feel like if you don't take work home that you must be a lazy teacher. The fact is none of that is true or has to happen. You have a life. Enjoy it. I have made it a point to only take work home if absolutely necessary. I will stay and hour or 2 after school if it means I do not have to bring stuff home every day of the week. Why? Because I want my time at home to be my time. If you worked in an office, you could just shut your door, and ask not to be bothered for a while and breathe. In an office you usually don't have to give a presentation every day. As a teacher however, you get one hour during the day, usually spent eating, grading, or planning- not relaxing. You present all day long and are expected to be on your game and reset within 5 minutes. You can't just shut your door and ask your students to give you a minute. So use your time at home to recuperate and rest and enjoy life. Otherwise you'll burn out before you know it.
Other great lists for 1st year teachers
Advice for the 1st year Teacher-From the Sophomore Who Survived Last Year
10 First Year Teacher Myths and How to Avoid Them
Advice For 1st Year Teachers- TeachingTolerance.org
New Teacher Survival Guides- Scholastic.com
What advice do you have for 1st year teachers?
Every day I feel like I think of something new. What wisdom do you have to share? Do you agree with any of my statements above? Share in the comments!