Idea Exchange: Tips for New Teachers

This is the first in a series of crowd-sourced posts for new teachers.  This time I asked you to share your top three tips for teachers starting their first post in September.  There was a fantastic response and many of the responses will be helpful for established teachers as well.  Thank you to everyone who took time to contribute.


So here they are:

  1. You will never be done
  2. You have to know when it’s time to rest
  3. Record what you want to fix for next year
  4. Find Positive People
  5. You will mistakes. Don’t worry – everyone else has too.
  6. It gets easier. After a few terms a little bit of magic happens as the kids realise you’re there to stay
  7. Get involved in the life of the school (but try not to work through your lunch break)
  8. remain teachable – seek new learning constantly
  9. smile through all the ‘stuff’, it passes and teaching is totally worth it 🙂
  10. Learn with and from the children
  11. Learn, Unlearn and Relearn
  12. Learn your parents first names and learn to say hello in their language.
  13. Do your best to get a good night’s sleep
  14. Always take a positive approach to dealing with any problems you face rather than focus on the negatives
  15. Do not be afraid to ask questions no matter how stupid you might feel they are, it is better to be clear than to have no understanding at all
  16. carry on trying even if you face failures at first ( lesson plans, classroom management, etc..)
  17. Exchange ideas with your colleagues!
  18. Collaborate more! Never stop asking! You’ll learn more!
  19. Read more and more! The more you read about your needs, the more proficient you will be.
  20. Do not try to achieve everything you ever wanted in your first year. You will be stunned by how hard you have to work. This is your first year of a long long career and you should concentrate on doing well without burning yourself out.
  21. Talk to your colleagues, ask their advice and be prepared to take it and act on it. There are thousands of teachers in the same position as you so ask and never be afraid to say I need a hand.
  22. Get a toilet roll for your classroom. It’ll come in handy for the tears, cleaning, spills, make up removal, mopping up messes and a thousand other possible uses. The kids will love you when there’s none left in the loos too! (This may sound stupid but I was taught it 17 years ago and I still tell NQTs now to get a loo roll for their class)
  23. don’t threaten a sanction you don’t go through with
  24. find an active hard personal mentor
  25. don’t take yourself too seriously!
  26. Do not underestimate the power of ‘learning outside the classroom’.
  27. Make sure you try and take some school trips, to help children really have the benefit of learning how to work together outside of a classroom setting. You’ll have as much fun as them when you’re outside of a classroom setting, helping theirs and your confidence to grow as you learn together.
  28. Keep a little book in the classroom where you can make a note of the things the kids do that make you laugh, it’ll remind you of the fun you have with them over the year.
  29. Don’t be afraid to take a risk with trying something new. Being new to the profession can give you a fresh outlook on techniques.
  30. Listen to your colleagues who have years of experience, but if you want to try something new then go for it!
  31. Don’t be afraid to not know the answer to a question. Learning together can be extremely powerful.
  32. Be quiet after you ask a question. Let them answer. It’s your class – you can remain silent for as long as you’d like. Enjoy it. Let it be. Someone will answer.
  33. Twitter! The most useful way of getting in touch with hundreds of other education professionals instantly.
  34. Realize that you have SO MUCH power – they think you are amazing. Don’t abuse it.
  35. Know that you are not nearly as smart as they are. And that’s okay. You’re not there to be smarter and better. You are there to make sure they know that THEY are smarter and better.
  36. Praise strategically
  37. Plan for every student’s needs
  38. Keep reading around your subject
  39. Take it slowly. There’s a tendency to try and get through a lot in your lessons at first. Quality is more important than quantity.
  40. Try to define what your core belief is on the purpose of education is and use that to drive everything you do.
  41. Don’t pretend to know everything. Be the oldest learner in your classroom.
  42. Join Twitter! and follow people involved in education! Be reflective – take a little time to think back on your day.
  43. Maths – children find the etymology of important language enthralling. Eg, Scale – from the Latin for ‘ladder’. Radius – the Latin word for ‘spoke of a chariot wheel’. This applies to other subjects as well!
  44. Don’t try to do everything at once Be organized Find at least one supportive colleague at your school to discuss with
  45. Don’t soften your stance too soon – we all want to be liked by our students but it’s a lot easier to give ground than take it back
  46. Plan to your learning objectives – don’t just get a resource from the TES site or someone else’s scheme of work and waste time trying to make it fit your plan.  Work out what you need to say in as few words as possible and then get them working towards the learning objectives.
  47. Have something of a life outside of school – even if it’s just the Friday pub trip with the other staff – keep your job in perspective!  (It does get less time-consuming after the first year!)
  48. Be consistent in everything you do (procedures, rules, discipline, etc.)
  49. Don’t get down on yourself if a lesson does not go the way you planned.  Remember it so you can find something better to do next time.
  50. Find positive colleagues at your school — don’t get trapped in the “lunch room” banter of negativity.
  51. Its not what you say but what you do
  52. parents love their kids. Parents want the best for their kids even if they don’t always go about it brilliantly. Parents are NOT the enemy. Be imaginative and work with them
  53. EVERY child has the potential to be gifted & talented. Remember the hippocratic oath “Do no harm”
  54. Weave in topics and elements that you have a personal interest in- enthusiasm is contagious!
  55. Make friends with the caretaker and the office staff- they are fantastic support- you need them on side!
  56. Parent’s eve and report writing come round quickly but so do holidays! (Usually in the nick of time!)
  57. be completely genuine – children can tell if you are faking
  58. listen to other teachers but use your own judgement at all times.
  59. Reflect, reassess but don’t beat yourself up
  60. Don’t let your ego get in the way.
  61. Care unconditionally for all children and make sure they know it. You don’t have to like all behaviours, but you don’t get paid to dislike any student.
  62. Do a little professional development every day.
  63. Always carry around a note book to jot down ideas.
  64. Never underestimate the power of a post-it note.
  65. Go out and talk to people, don’t hide behind the schools email system.
  66. Nobody is perfect!
  67. Use Technology for networking, teaching, …Never give up to learn more.
  68. Passion is very important but be careful about burnout and spend time for meditation, relaxing and healthy food.
  69. Love and appreciate your students. They keep you young.
  70. Don’t be afraid to try, fail, and then try again.
  71. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  72. Reach out to your colleagues. They know stuff.
  73. Integrate technology into your lessons as much as possible.
  74. Keep learning about everything and pass that knowledge on to others.
  75. Be nice to all of the school staff. They can help you in many ways.
  76. Talk less, plan more.
  77. You will keep getting better if you keep trying to get better.
  78. This has the power to make your life happy if you stick at it
  79. Be firm but fair
  80. Involve your students right from the start and build a community
  81. Get in the best physical shape that you can.
  82. don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for advice and help watch as many other teachers, experienced and new, as you can- you will learn every time you observe
  83. Introduce real world events into your teaching…this helps to make the learning relevant
  84. think of yourself as a learner not a teacher
  85. it’s about the learners more than you
  86. Get a hobby and stick to it – you can’t raise anybody’s self esteem above your own so look after yourself.
  87. Involve yourself with the extra curricular activities, it’ll help you to build great relationships with learners & colleagues outside the classroom.
  88. If it’s not about learning, don’t do it. Fancy lesson tricks & tech are great (believe me – I’m a geek) but if they don’t help learning, there’s no point.

Useful Websites Highlighted;


Independent thinking
How to use education technology quickly: Under ten minutes
Creating a thinking school:  Thinkers toolbox
Educational games, activities, quizzes etc:

Cybraryman’s New Teachers page – huge collection of links to useful sites

Fantastic video about the future of education (Math is not a four letter word) (outdoor education)

Teacher Blogs: (music non-specialists) (re school dinners)

Thank you to everyone who contributed: @ShawnMcCusker @LearningSpy @krivett1 @vanschaijik @Darney_ICTteach @RomdhaniFaten @davew1968 @leejackson @kingswood_ @ICTDani @MathFour @ Biolady99 @dmchugh675 @MathsChatterbox @anna_bring @nikkeefe @mkuehn10 @jackieschneider @ErinMorleyS @misskmcculloch @DrDougGreen @ThurstableGeog @Begabungs @KrisGrabarek @wilkins105 @Spitfirepilot1 @ cybraryman1 @mikeatedji @mracolley