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May 3, 2024

Insights from Veteran Educators: Advice for New and Student Teachers

Becoming a teacher can be thrilling and daunting, especially when you’re a new teacher or student teacher about to step foot in the classroom for the first time. From engaging students to mastering classroom communication, teaching demands flexibility, empathy, and the open-mindedness to continue learning ourselves. Each setback presents an opportunity for growth, each challenge a chance to refine practice.

At Teaching Channel, we’re fortunate to have a wealth of education experience within our teams, including many former educators. We asked them what their advice would be for student teachers about to teach their first lesson and new teachers about to take charge of their first classroom.

Here is the advice our seasoned educators had for new teachers:

1. Find or Create a Support System

You don’t have to do this alone. As a student teacher, be sure to take advantage of your mentor. An experienced teacher who genuinely wants you to succeed is an invaluable resource to have. Be sure to learn from feedback, closely watch how your mentor teacher manages the classroom, and ask plenty of questions. You can also expanding your support system by setting up observations with other teachers in the school. Take note of the different teaching styles you see and ask questions to get an insight on educator’s unique perspectives.

As a new teacher establishing themselves in a new school, having a supportive team is crucial for a smooth start. Look for a colleague you connect with who can help you navigate your school community and settle into your role. Additionally, finding a mentor among your fellow teachers can provide valuable guidance and resources to support you in your first year and beyond.

2. Get to Know Your Students

Get to know your kids first. And start off strict! It’s easier to be strict when they know they’re loved, and it’s easier to loosen up throughout the year than it is to batten down the hatches.”
—Erica Redgraves, former teacher

Build relationships with students. This will set the tone for classroom culture, conflict resolution, and more. Trust and communication with your learners are key to keeping things running smoothly and creating more time for learning in the classroom.

Use the idea of a “Relationship Bank Account” to drive your actions. Try to put 5 positive deposits with each learner—this will help if you need to make a withdrawal (such as a behavior reminder). Involve your students in creating a community and set expectations early on. Allow each student to start fresh each day. Greet them at the door, smile, and get to know them the best you can.

3. Maintain Work-Life Balance

Control what you can control. Letting go and realizing I cannot control everything through out the day really helped me work through the speed bumps and overcome challenges that were often out of my control. Stepping back and looking past the variables I could not change allowed me to focus on the things I could to keep my students moving forward.”
—Charlotte Akers, former teacher

Teaching can be an incredibly rewarding profession, but it is still only one piece of your life and self. You don’t need to be working or thinking about teaching 24/7 to be a good teacher.

Set boundaries and develop strategies for self-care and work-life balance early on to protect yourself from overworking. Remember to take time each day to review, reflect, and celebrate small victories.

4. Mistakes are Opportunities to Grow

Expect to make mistakes. Teaching is a challenging career and as humans we often learn more from our mistakes than our successes. As a new teacher, if you are not making mistakes then you are not doing your job.”
—Cheri Dedmon, former teacher and academic coach

It’s okay to be nervous, but don’t let the fear of making a mistake hold you back. Embracing these moments with resilience and a growth mindset can lead to valuable insights and improvements in your teaching practice. Remember, every misstep is a chance to refine your approach and become a more effective educator.

5. Be Prepared, but Stay Flexible

A well-prepared teacher can work magic and it shows! I would encourage new student teachers to be well-prepared, but allow it to flow and adjust as needed. Kids know when you are prepared and responsive to their needs at the same time. It is so much easier to enjoy your students, too, and interact genuinely when you’ve done your prep, planning, and can really be in the moment with your them.”
—Laura Estes, former teacher

Teachers should always walk into the classroom prepared for the day ahead but staying too rigid in our routines can cause us to miss out on organic learning opportunities. Being flexible allows teachers to respond to the needs of their students, seize teachable moments, and maintain a positive learning atmosphere. By striking a balance between preparation and flexibility, you can create engaging and meaningful experiences for your students while fostering a dynamic and responsive classroom environment.



As you prepare to step into the classroom armed with the advice shared here, remember that the journey of teaching is one of constant growth and evolution. Embrace each day as an opportunity to learn something new!

If you’re looking to add to your teaching toolbelt, check out our free eBook: The New Teacher Toolkit, filled with resources for your first years in the classroom!

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