From nationwide teacher shortages to absolutely insane turnover rates, it's no secret that schools today have a trouble retaining talent.
This is especially true in the case of first-year teachers who often deal with a series of major uphill hurdles as newbies to the field. Often considered the “make or break” year for any given teacher, the advice of most veteran teachers is to simply find ways to survive.
Unfortunately, doing so is easier said than done.
That said, it is possible to have a successful first year as a high school teacher. Those teaching high school have the benefit of more independent students and higher expectations, but that's not to say that the job is easy.
But with the following tips in mind, you can survive and maintain realistic expectations as a first-year teacher instead of experiencing a rude awakening upon entering the classroom.
So, what exactly do you need to know to make it through that first tough year?
Learn to Manage Your Stress
Simply put, you're not going to last long in this profession if you're constantly blowing up on kids or making rash decisions.
You absolutely must learn how to deal with stress regardless of whether or not your classroom is in a state of chaos. Oftentimes, the ability to control your emotions and avoid outbursts is what separates those who split from those who stick around for the long-term.
Don't let your time in the classroom break you down. Sometimes the best way to make this happen is by spending your time wisely beyond the classroom.
Make time for your hobbies. Eat well. Take time outside of school to focus on self-improvement. As the old saying for teachers goes, it does get better.
Keep Your Problems in Your Classroom
Obviously, you need to talk to your administrator or principal if you're dealing with serious classroom issues such as suspected abuse, drug usage or bullying. That said, not all of your problems need to be publicized for everyone at the school.
One of the biggest mistakes that new teachers make is being needlessly vocal about their problems.
While it may make sense to talk out your issues with others, the fact remains that in many cases, it's better to fly under the radar as a first-year teacher. The less that people hear about you, the more they assume that you have things under control.
Sure, feel free to talk to your peers or mentor teachers for advice, but don't needlessly spill the beans about how you can't control your classroom or are in way over your head. When in doubt, talk to a fellow teacher first before immediately running to a higher-up.
Beg, Borrow and Steal
There's no shame in borrowing materials from other teachers versus trying to create all of your own lessons from scratch. While you certainly should put your personal creative spin on your lessons, you'll inevitably burn out if you try to create everything yourself.
There are tons of sites and free resources online at your fingers thanks to a quick Google search. Seriously: nobody will judge you for borrowing lessons when you're still learning how to effectively manage your classroom.
Even in the face of the typical trials and tribulations of a first year, don't forget that your students are indeed depending on you even if they don't act like it. Before throwing in the towel or getting overwhelmed, keep these tips in mind to make survival a top priority.