5 goals for new teachers

As a teacher in my 18th year, I understand the excitement and jitters that come with finishing your first semester. To help you close your first semester successfully, I’d like to share five goals for new teachers that, when achieved, can set a positive tone for the rest of the academic year, even if the first few months haven’t gone perfectly.

1. Build Stronger Connections:

Before the holiday season arrives, make it a priority to establish strong connections with your students, especially the ones with whom you’ve had the hardest time connecting. Create a classroom environment that promotes open communication and mutual respect.

This might mean a reboot. If your classroom environment is not what you want it to be, it’s not too late to change it. You don’t need to spend the rest of the year where you are now. I remember during my first year teaching, having to take a day in late fall to reset classroom expectations. As a new teacher, classroom management can be difficult.

Now might be a good time to have a pow-wow with your students about what the classroom expectations are. Maybe you need to lay down the law on your own with clear consequences for your expectations not being met. Or maybe you can come together as a whole class to create a set of classroom expectations you can all agree on. It’s even possible that if you did that at the beginning of the year, now is a good time to revisit those expectations, make sure everyone is still on the same page, and have students reflect on how they as individuals and the class as a whole has done at meeting those expectations.

2. Re-establish Classroom Routines:

Effective classroom management is key to a successful teaching experience. If you’ve gotten lax on the routines in your classroom, now is a good time to re-establish clear and consistent procedures to create a sense of structure for your students. Whether it’s how you start the day, transition between activities, or handle disruptions, having established routines will help create a more focused and productive learning environment.

3. Re-visit Academic Expectations:

Outline your academic expectations again. Remind students of the grading policies, assignment expectations, and rules about late work. This time of year, I notice the amount of late work starting to increase and students need to be very clear on the consequences of late work.

Providing students with a roadmap for success empowers them to take ownership of their learning. Be sure to review and reinforce these expectations right before or right after the holidays to maintain a focused and engaged classroom atmosphere.

4. Foster a Positive Classroom Culture:

Now is a great time to encourage a positive classroom culture by acknowledging and celebrating successes, both big and small. If you teach seniors, celebrate when they are accepted into a college, career, or the military. Many other students have showcases this time of year (chorus, dance, art, instrumental). Showing up for things like that makes students feel seen. Positivity is contagious, and a classroom filled with encouragement and support contributes to a more enjoyable and effective learning experience.

5. Take Care of Yourself:

As educators, we often prioritize the needs of our students, sometimes neglecting our well-being. During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, take some time for self-care. Find time for relaxation, exercise, and activities that bring you joy. Taking care of yourself not only enhances your ability to teach effectively but also serves as a model for your students to prioritize their own well-being.

As I’m sure you know by now, the first semester sets the tone for the entire school year. By building connections, re-establishing routines, re-visiting expectations, fostering a positive culture, and prioritizing self-care, you’ll be well on your way to a more successful and fulfilling teaching experience. Embrace the challenges, celebrate the victories, and remember that you are making a lasting impact on the lives of your students.

Looking for more helpful reading material for new teachers? Check out these posts:

I recommend reading Brené Brown

Review: Angela Duckworth’s “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” Recommended reading for future/new teachers

Students AND teachers need mindful moments

How to bring mindful moments into your classroom part 1: meditation

Inspirational Quotes

Anecdotes from veteran teachers

Teacher Christmas Present ideas with Amazon links

Teacher gift ideas

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A Teacher's Guide

I am a National Board Certified educator currently teaching in Virginia. I have taught the following: English 9, 10, 11, and 12 (on academic, collaborative, and honors levels); Dual Enrollment English; Mass Communications, Yearbook, Newspaper, and Communications Technology. I have experience in five different school systems, four in Virginia and one in Maryland. I served as my school’s 2019 Teacher of the Year and was a top five finalist for the Teacher of the Year for Virginia Beach City Public Schools. I am passionate about recruiting and retaining quality educators in our public schools. Let me help you find your path to changing lives through teaching!

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