Navigating through your first year in the classroom
Many professionals choose to enter the education field after they have already earned a bachelor’s degree and spent many years in the traditional workforce. These professionals often want to inspire a new generation of students and make a real difference in the community.
Ohio has made the transition from the workplace to the classroom easier with a variety of accelerated, accessible and convenient educational programs designed to prime current working professionals for a new career in education. Nevertheless, after classes, coursework, exams and student teaching, first-year teachers may have many “what have I gotten myself into?” moments that leave them stumped and, in some instances, overwhelmed. New teachers must prepare themselves for unscripted moments when entering their first year in the classroom.
A Survive and Thrive Guide for First-Year Teachers
Take charge of the classroom
Disciplinary issues often hinder first-year teachers because the disruptions can severely interfere with their daily lessons and impede their instructions. While seasoned teachers know how to handle typical problem children, these students’ antics can sometimes overwhelm new teachers. If you have trepidations when you enter the classroom, your students will most likely notice and use it as a reason to act out. Preempt disruptive students by taking charge of your classroom from day one. Establish a discipline plan that identifies both strict punishments for misbehavior and rewards for exemplary behavior, and enforce the plan consistently. Explain the consequences of bad behavior so your students understand their punishments. Also share your plan with parents so they know the classroom disciplinary procedures.
Keeping students busy can help curb behavioral issues in the classroom and allow you time to organize and plan. However, teachers should avoid too much busywork that serves little purpose other than to keep students quiet. Students will quickly become bored and likely misbehave. Create robust lesson plans that engage students with thoughtful and meaningful assignments. Consider building interactive lessons that give students a hands-on approach to learning, and utilize technology when applicable for a dynamic and collaborative learning environment.
Form a support network
Your first year in the classroom can be challenging. Surround yourself with a solid network of allies who will provide you the support you need to excel through your first year. A seasoned teacher, parents, friends and family can all help keep you sane and focused on doing a great job educating students.
Seek out a veteran teacher at your school who can serve as your mentor. Mentors can answer your questions, share their valuable experience and introduce you to the school’s staff, including fellow teachers, administrators, aides, administrative assistants and custodians. These connections will create a broader support network at your school. You should also work hard to build good relationships with your students’ parents because they will be a great source of support if students have academic or behavioral issues in your classroom. Parents who are invested in the classroom are more likely to volunteer for school field trips, bring in snacks for special events and donate funds to help you stock your classroom with supplies. You should also surround yourself with friends and family who know about your career shift and can encourage you throughout the first school year.
An organized classroom is your best tool for a successful year of teaching. Organization helps facilitate an efficient learning environment. Students can easily find supplies and resources when they need them, and you can effectively lead lessons and instructions.
You should also maintain personal organization to keep the school year on track. Avoid procrastinating when it comes to creating lesson plans. Plan ahead to ensure you have adequate and engaging lessons to fill the day and promote an engaging and memorable educational experience.
Teaching should be fun; however, the daily grind can often cause new teachers to become jaded with the profession. Try not to put too much pressure onyourself during your first year in the classroom. It will only lead to more stress and potential discouragement. Relax and have fun in the classroom. Your students will respond positively to a good-natured attitude and teaching style. Remember, it is your job to make education both fun and informative so your students gain a lifelong passion for learning.
As a first-year teacher, you will encounter some curve balls that might cause you to teeter off balance. Remain flexible and focused to ensure you stay on track throughout the school year.
Ohio’s Educational Environment
Ohio has an exemplary education system, which makes it an ideal market for current professionals who want to transition into the field of education. With more than 600 local school districts, the state is known for its high level of academic achievement and educational standards, and it provides first-year teachers with a supportive educational environment both inside and outside the classroom. With a student–teacher ratio limited to an average of 16:1 in districts across the state, teachers can provide students with a more personal educational experience, and a diverse, high-performing student body allows educators to develop challenging and dynamic curriculum for an engaging learning environment.
While teaching is not known for its high salaries, Ohio’s teaching salary ranks 14th in the nation, and the state has a lower cost of living, which makes it a very appealing location for educators. According to the Bureau of Labor Statics, salary varies according to one’s level of teaching.
Grade Level Annual Salary
Elementary school teacher $51,970
Middle school teacher $50,620
Secondary school teacher $54,530
Special education teacher $53,800
Working professionals seeking a worthwhile career transition should consider entering the education field in Ohio. Notre Dame College (NDC) offers Teacher Education Evening Licensure (TEEL), an accelerated teaching certificate program that students can complete in 18 to 24 months, including student teaching requirements. This Ohio teaching license provides professionals who already have a bachelor’s degree in a different field with a flexible, convenient and affordable alternative to earning another four-year degree. Start your new journey now with NDC’s TEEL program.
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