Being a new teacher can be both exciting and overwhelming. On the one hand, it can be thrilling to have your own classroom and the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of your students after studying to do it for so long. On the other hand, it can be daunting to be responsible for planning and delivering lessons, managing a classroom, and supporting the learning and development of your students.
As a new teacher, you may feel a mix of emotions, including excitement, anxiety, and uncertainty. You may feel pressure to perform well and meet the expectations of your students, parents, and colleagues. You may also feel a sense of responsibility for helping your students learn and grow.
If you're feeling a tad nervous about stepping into the classroom, trust me – you're not alone. We've all been there, and I've got some down-to-earth advice that might just help you gain that much-needed confidence.
1. Plan Like Your Day Depends On It
I vividly remember my first day as a teacher – lesson plans in hand, knees shaking. The thing is, preparation truly is your secret weapon. Spend time crafting your lessons, foreseeing questions, and having backup activities ready. You might not need to write detailed lesson plans if your school doesn't require it, but for your first-year teaching I suggest coming up with a solution that works for you, so you feel fully prepared when you step into the classroom. Once you get a few years of teaching under your belt, you'll be able to do lessons with minimal prep because your experience will be more important than detailed preparation. But for now, make sure to go over everything beforehand - from how you will give instructions to how you will explain complex concepts. And do it out loud! When you get used to the sound of your own voice in the teaching context, it can work wonders for your confidence levels.
2. Connect Before You Teach
Building a real connection with your students can be a game-changer. In my first year of teaching, I had one student who used to be constantly distracted. She wouldn't really pay much attention in my class and she kept jotting things down in her notebook. Turns out, she was a talented artist and drew various characters in her notebook, even during class. By taking an interest in her sketches and chatting about her interests, she gradually became more engaged in class, as we came up with the deal. She could draw during the class but she had to incorporate the topics of the lesson into her drawings. She loved it and felt special when at the end of some of the classes she would show everyone her drawings and explain how they were connected to our lesson topic. Those personal connections can do wonders for classroom dynamics and your own self-assurance.
3. Roll with the Punches that Come with Being a New Teacher
Flexibility is your ally in the classroom. Here's the thing: even the most detailed lesson plans might not go exactly as planned. That's where being flexible comes in. Let's say you've meticulously set up an interactive debate on historical events, but suddenly half the class is absent. Instead of panicking, shift gears and transform it into a collaborative discussion. The key is to be ready to pivot while still achieving your teaching goals. Flexibility not only stems from being adaptable but also from being well-prepared. When I realized that a tech glitch could throw off my entire digital presentation, I had a printed version on hand – and that saved the day. Remember, flexibility doesn't mean abandoning your plan; it's about being prepared to make quick, thoughtful adjustments that keep your class engaged and your confidence intact. It shows you're in control, even when things don't go as planned.
4. Feedback is a Lifesaver
As a new teacher, feedback is like gold dust. I remember my first class observation when I started teaching and how nervous I was about what the principal, the student counselor, and my mentor would think of my lesson and me as a teacher. As it turned out, they were very impressed with my skills and rapport with the students, which helped me boost my confidence. They also gave me a few tips on how I can improve classroom dynamics, one being setting up the students' desks differently so that have a better flow. It was such a simple tip, but it worked wonders in my future classes. Being open to feedback and learning from experienced teachers can be a game-changer. Don't forget to explore teacher training courses too – they offer insights that are great for boosting confidence.
5. It's Okay to Fake It
I used to dread being asked a question I didn't know the answer to. I thought that my students would think I am not an expert in my field and that I would lose all the authority I set up if they realized I didn't know everything. But, guess what? Once that situation did happen, I (fakely confident) explained that I am not sure about this particular word (I was a language teacher at the time) and that we could look it up together. I opened a dictionary on my computer, showed them how to find the word, and also taught them all the other things they can learn from a dictionary along with the meaning of the word. They didn't even blink when I didn't know the answer right away and they got to learn something new, like how to use a dictionary. So, I pretended to be confident until I actually felt it after this instance.
6. Celebrate Every Victory
No victory is too small to celebrate. When a usually quiet student voiced an opinion during a class discussion, it was a big deal. Commending their effort not only encourages them but also gives you a boost of confidence. Those little wins add up and remind you that you're making a difference. A nice idea is also to keep a journal of good things that happen each day. Some days, you'll have a few of them, some days you'll struggle to find one, but try to make it a habit of writing down at least ONE good thing every day. It will force you to find something positive in any situation and you will have a list of small victories you can come back to after a really hard day.
7. Embrace the Journey of Growth
Reflecting on your lessons is like reviewing game tapes. You learn what worked, what didn't, and how you can improve. Embracing the journey of growth, even through challenges, nurtures a sense of accomplishment and a stronger belief in yourself. Confidence comes from competence, so strive to improve your teaching skills and knowledge on an ongoing basis. Take professional development courses, attend workshops, and seek out feedback from colleagues to help you grow as a teacher.
So, dear new teachers, take a deep breath – you've got this! Every experienced educator started somewhere. And hey, if you're hungry for more wisdom, our teacher training courses are a fantastic resource that I wish I had when I started out.
Here's to your growth, your success, and the countless lives you're about to touch in the classroom. Keep shining!