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First Year Teacher Tips and Tricks

Market: Education

Do you want to know the difference between a first-year teacher and a non-first-year teacher? Ask them what they are doing this summer! First-year teachers will tell you that they are busy planning their classrooms. Non-first-year teachers will tell you that they are thinking about everything but school for the next couple of weeks.

Now, neither teacher is more right than the other: there’s just a different mindset! I find this funny as I am a first-year teacher. After dreaming about having my own classroom since I was in elementary school, it’s finally happening!! But before I continue on, let me introduce myself. My name is Claire Donahue and I recently graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign with an Elementary Education degree. I literally (!!!!) just claimed my teacher’s license and will be teaching 5th grade in my home district come August. It is so surreal that I will be Miss Donahue to an amazing group of 10-year-olds in a few months.

As I am a first-year teacher, I have thought about everything school related this summer. I have found a great way to prepare myself for the school year; I devised it into an acronym of “school”. I find that these are the key things that I am doing right now & for the rest of the summer to prepare me for my first day on August 22.

Shopping for that “teacher wardrobe”

What better excuse for going shopping then saying, “oh I need this for work’?!?! I have been building my “teacher wardrobe” since I began student teaching during my junior year at the University of Illinois and I am not stopping now. Here are some of my favorite teacher stores and some offer a teacher’s discount: Loft, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Target, & Gap. I have been preparing myself for school by buying professional, comfortable pants, appropriate and stylish tops, and any other piece of clothing that would work well for the classroom.

Catching up on my zzz’s

It was quite a busy past couple of months: between student teaching, interviewing, and graduating, life was a nonstop roller coaster. I have found that another way I am preparing myself for the classroom is by catching up on my sleep and unwinding. Relaxing and taking time for yourself is super important & since it’s summer, I have a whole two months where I am able to do this! Disclaimer though…”sleeping in” for me is waking up at 6:30 a.m.

Hanging out with fellow teachers

Another way I am preparing for the school year is connecting with my fellow teachers: my future coworkers, teacher friends, and online teacher bloggers. I believe that two heads are definitely better than one, so I am making sure to reach out to all my teaching resources. Before starting my planning and school thinking, I was able to meet with my fifth-grade team! I now know more about what I can expect at my future school and what I can expect in my first year.

Organizing, organizing, organizing

Organization is the name of the game this summer!!! From resources and materials that I received from other teachers, Teachers Pay Teachers, and things I bought on my own, I have piles upon piles in my basement. I am creating labels, categorizing my classroom library books, and creating folders/renaming files for my online resources. This organization now will make my life easier later.  Check out The Container Store for teacher specials and Pinterest for clever organization ideas. 

Officially determining my theme

I HAVE BEEN DREAMING OF THIS MOMENT SINCE MY MOM MADE ME A “PLAY CLASSROOM” CIRCA 2005. I have finally determined my theme…SPACE:) For those of you who know me personally, you may be super surprised to learn that I am not doing my owl theme. Butttttt if you learn a little bit more about me, you will see that I am obsessed with the book Wonder and being kind and positive. My theme of “space” will incorporate choosing kindness and Wonder in a totally rad, hip fifth grade way!

Looking at curriculum guides

One of the last things I have been doing to prepare for my classroom is by looking at fifth-grade curriculum. I was able to pick up the teacher edition textbooks from my school and have been looking through them throughout this summer. Now I have a better idea of what I will be teaching exactly and have been carefully pinning lesson plans on Pinterest that go with fifth-grade content and standards.

WOOHOO, I am already a month into my summer & two months away from my first day of school! I am looking forward to keeping you all updated on my teacher journey! Thank you for reading along!

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