Rookie Mistakes Most First Year Teachers Make

Everyone starts off as a newb, in any new endeavor. But few excel really quickly. These are just some words of advice from a veteran teacher to a new teacher about to start their first year.

It’s Okay To Say No Politely

I recently had training with a few other teachers on some new tech we’re rolling out in our classrooms. I was chatting with a brand new teacher, and a teacher of 15 years. The rookie was telling us that she was volun-told to be at this training. We told her that this training has nothing to do with her grade or subject, and that it would have been best if her principal sent someone who the training was meant for. She was like, “that’s exactly what I thought”.

I’ve come across more incompetent principals, directors, assistant superintendents, and superintendents, than I have competent ones. What probably happened was her principal waited until last minute, or found out last minute that they needed to send a teacher to this training, and she or he, just chose the most gullible or rookie they could find. This happens way more than you would think, it’s embarrassing.

We told the rookie, that we were once there, and that is she doesn’t politely say no thank you, then the admin will continue to throw responsibilities on her plate until she quits or politely declines.

I wanted to be the super hero my first year, I was young and ambitious, but I learned the hard way of not saying no, and I truly regret it til this day. So please don’t make my rookie mistake.

“You’re Going To Save The World” Mentality

Listen, being driven and ambitious are great traits, don’t lose those. But be open to changing your expectations about certain precondition thoughts you had of teaching. I came from a very affluent and academic school district when I was growing up, so I naively thought that all school districts had academics as their number one priority. Boy howdy was I wrong. In Texas, for most districts, it is athletics and other priorities that will supersede academics all together. My first district had me use my teaching time to have my students pick up trash off the football field, and then I had to mow the baseball field. Yearbook was another priority. I had to take my class of students to an event that needed pictures taken. And then I was told that I needed to get my CDL, or they wouldn’t pay me my coaching stipend. So they lightly suggested I use class time to study for it.

I was in total shell shock of what I was witnessing.

Long story short, be open to whatever you’re going to face your first year of teaching. DO NOT come in with a definitive mindset, because it will only be that much harder to adapt to your environment. I hope this makes sense.

Budget Accordingly

As teachers, we only get paid once a month, and it is at the end of each month, if you didn’t know that already. But what caught me off guard was that I wouldn’t get my first paycheck until the end of September, and I started at the end of July. So I went with two months of not being paid. This hit me financially really hard. Another first year teacher quit mid-August because his wife and him ran out of money, and he couldn’t wait another month to get paid.

Fortunately for me, I had some savings, and a mom that really loves me, lol. I was able to whether the storm, but it was hard. I also took the first job offer, which was for a very small school district, with super low pay, on top of having to pay my ACP for their fee. I honestly felt poorer than when I was in college. For some time there I really doubted my career choice.

Just be mindful of when you get your first paycheck, and budget accordingly, and you will be okay.

I really don’t want this post to come off as shaming a teaching career. Teaching has been very rewarding, and had gotten better each year(because I learn from my mistakes each year and make the necessary changes). It has provided some of the best memories of my life, outside of family. I wouldn’t take my career choice back at all. These are just a few words of wisdom from an experienced teacher, to a new teacher starting out.

I truly hope this posts helps you be the most successful first year teacher out there! Please feel free to comment any questions you may have below(I think you have to create a WordPress account, but it is free).

Best wishes!

-E

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