Sunday, June 9, 2013

Reflecting on my first year

Teachers are natural reflectors.  We are constantly evaulating how things went and revamping to make it even better.  After all, who wants a lesson to go bad twice?  So of course, at the end of my first year I began reflecting on the year as a whole.  I did a lot of "experimenting."  Seeing what worked and what didn't.. and I learned a lot along the way.  Here are just a few of the important things I learned my first year teaching that can hopefully help future teachers get through their first year a little easier...

1. Stay true to you
I learned very quickly that I was not good at carrying out and implementing other teachers ideas.  Something may sound wonderful and work wonders in 1 classroom, but fail miserably in another.  This doesn't mean don't take ideas from other teachers or to share your own... it just means that every teacher has their own style.  Take the ideas and make them your own!  Make sense of it, figure out how it will fit with your teaching style and tailor it to your students..and then of course, implement and reflect!   You'll be happy that you did when you see that it worked. 

2. Collaborate and lean on your colleagues

This is so key to surviving as a first year teacher, actually... probably at any year.  That's what they are there for.  A shoulder to cry on, a brain to bounce ideas off, an experienced teacher to help you solve that parent or behavior problem or help you figure out the best way to teach that math concept... I had any amazing team this year, and I hope that is true for everyone!  I stole borrowed many of their ideas, asked them probably a million and one questions, and got things off of my chest that nobody else would understand.  As teachers, we are supposed to work together, collaborate, and help eachother grow.  And as a first year teacher you will bring fresh, new ideas to your grade & be a valuable member of your team.

3. Leave time for you

I cannot stress this enough.  There will NEVER be enough time to do everything that you want to/have to do.  Prioritize.  What is the most important and what can wait?  Cut yourself off at a certain time every night.  I got into the habit of coming home, taking my dog for a walk, having dinner, and then allowing myself only 2 hours TOPS to do work (usually I gave myself 1, but some nights I knew I had more to do than others) It seems kind of crazy.  Especially when you don't get all that planning done for the next day.. but you owe it to yourself.  Teaching is one of the hardest and most demading professions... You will tire yourself out too quickly if you don't leave time for you which will, in turn, have a negative affect on your classroom environment.  You become more easily frustrated, less energetic, and less invested because your just too darn exhuasted.  Trust me, leave "Me Time".  You'll be more happy- and so will your students.


I think this is the most important of them all.  If you're not enjoying your kids, you're not enjoying your job... which will lend to an early burn out and you being just plain miserable.  Laugh with them.  Be spontaneous. Don't be so serious all the time.  Make learning fun.  Stand on top of the table & give them the "I have a dream" speech while you're learning about Martin Luthur King Jr., Put on mustaches while you make fraction pizzas, sing a song about adding. Tell them a joke... get to know them.. share their interests and show them that you genuinly care.  You'll make an impact on their life and you theirs.

I have learned so much more my first year teaching but I think that these are some of the most important.  I hope you will pass along to any upcoming teachers that you know and who could use a little advice to help them have a successful first year!


  1. Great advice Ashley! I so feel you about #1. One of the teachers that I work with is Wonder Woman! She can take a piece of lint and turn it into a meaningful lesson. It took me a full year to realize that I was never going to be able to reach her level and that was okay. I'm pinning this post! :)

    Second Grade Math Maniac

  2. Ashley I love this post! Even after 6 years these are things I think about all the time. The biggest is making time for yourself. It is so hard, especially because we always feel like we should be doing more. Congrats on finishing your first year!
    Third Grade Tidbits

  3. Ashley,

    I think this is awesome advice! I just finished my first year as a pre-k teacher and even though I loved it and learned it so much, I definitely struggled. I especially love #3! This was something I definitely struggled with for the first half of the year, but once I started making sure I was happy I could see how positively it affected my kids. Thanks for sharing the advice, it's definitely things I'll keep in mind for next year!