Back-To-School at a New School: 7 Tips From a Teacher of 7 Years

Back-To-School at a New School: 7 Tips From a Teacher of 7 Years

I have officially started my school year at a NEW SCHOOL and despite having taught in a classroom for 7 years, I continue to learn new things. Going back to school is never easy, and I think one of the most important things to remember when you teach as a profession is to keep an open mind. We get so stuck in our ways and forget that our way is not always the highway. What we learned from our own teachers is not the only way. What we did in our previous classrooms may not fly in our new classroom. Times change!

If we expect students to follow our lead, we have to be just as ready to learn as they are! Sure, we may be the ones standing at the head of the classroom, but that doesn’t mean we have nothing to learn ourselves.

As teachers we must grow and adapt, not only for our kids but for our own sanity. There IS such a thing as a mental burnout. There IS such a thing as making a first impression that will define the rest of your school year. And there definitely is such a thing as staying true to yourself through it all.

As I navigate my way through the beginning of the 2018-2019 year at a new school, I thought I would share some of the things I have learned. Here are 7 major things that I learned during professional development as an educator of 7 years.


1. Be open to new ideas, procedures and expectations. People really don’t want to hear about how you did things at your last school! At least not right away. Now is the time to be a great listener! While you know you have so many great ideas that you are eager to share, remember that you are the newbie and have a lot to learn.

2. Don’t get stuck in your old way of doing things. Even though the familiar is such a nice place to live, embrace this new environment and space! Be a sponge and soak in all of the information and ideas your new teammates have to offer. For all you know, you could find that you prefer their way of doing things over your old ways!

My Top 10 Back-to-School MUST-Haves

3. Write down your questions in a notebook – they will probably get answered! Remember that one kid in every college class that would constantly raise his hand to comment, or ask a question? And you wanted to pull your hair out? DON’T BE THAT GUY! Being new is hard! I totally understand! I hate not knowing things and always have a million questions running through my head. Keeping a notebook with me during every training or meeting kept me organized. I  wrote down all of my questions, and by the end of the first week, most of those questions were answered.

4. Stay Positive. Let’s be real. The beginning of every school year is stressful. Classroom set-up, meet-the-teacher, meetings, professional development, and never enough time in the day! It can be THAT much more overwhelming when you are new to a school. Why do you think so many of us have been falling asleep at 6-7pm after week one? It’s physically and mentally exhausting! At the end of the day, I had to remind myself that everything would work out just as it should. It helped my stress level more than I ever thought!

5. Don’t lose sight of who you are. It’s easy to feel like you have to adapt to your surroundings, especially when you are on new turf. This is true, in many ways, but that doesn’t mean you have to mask any of the sweet quirks that make you the teacher you are! If you are starting at a new school, don’t lose sight of your personality just because you are trying to fit in. Bring your SASS to the class! An empty classroom is one of the best ways to make your new home feel like, well, home. You can find out some of my back-to-school MUST-haves here, all of which I have used to get myself settled at my new school.

6. Smile and be kind. As often as we tell our students to be kind, we sometimes forget that it applies to us, too. When you are the new kid, everyone is checking you out. Remember to smile and be kind! First impressions are huge, and these people are going to be your family for at least the rest of the year! No one wants to be the person that sends off bad vibes from the very beginning. It’ll only set you up for a lot of butt-kissing down the line. Start your year off with a smile.

7. Learn to say no. Saying “no” is the hardest one for me, but it is also most important! I have slowly started saying no to new projects, an extra duty, or adding an after school club. In the moment, you may feel like you are saving the day. But a few months in, you will be exhausted and burnt out. I have learned that people respect you just as much, maybe even more, if you say no and advocate for yourself. Remember, at the end of the day, we’re here for our students and if we aren’t giving them 100%, was that extra duty really worth it?

Going back to school isn’t easy, I will admit that. But, I am also confident in saying that we have a tendency to make it harder on ourselves than it needs to be. We burden ourselves with so much extra, controllable pressure! Gain control and approach the new school year with confidence, openness and a little bit of sass.

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