Elementary Science

Advice for new teachers

I am currently in college, studying to be an elementary school teacher. I was just wondering what kind of advice those of you who are experienced would give to someone just starting out? For example, one thing that you wish someone had told you before your very first day? Thank you!

Jennifer Marmion
Jennifer Marmion
1920 Activity Points

I am just starting out also, and I am just as nervous! I will give you some advice that I have been given these past few months. - Keep everything (lessons, conferences, etc.). Even though it might not work for one class, it might for another the next year. - Create a sense of community in your classroom. Have jobs for them, do things together, hold them accountable, etc. - Never take work home. You will never separate the two if you merge the two. Stay late if needed but never take it home. - Stay connected with parents/guardians. Always keep in contact with what is going on with their child (even for the good). - There are never BAD children. There are just children that need help with the way they regulate anger and redirection. - Look for signs of disabilities but do not diagnose children. Use your information to best differentiate the instruction. There is probably more advice that I have been given but this is what comes to mind right now. I hope you have a good year!

Sandra Lundy
Sandra Lundy
1605 Activity Points

I am also currently in college to become a teacher. A lot of advice on here has been very helpful even in my student teaching. What i have learned from my supervisor is to most importantly always over plan and also ask all questions you may have (don't feel scared).

Manelle El-Negery
Manelle El-Negery
1095 Activity Points

Appear calm. Use silence. Silence is effective for class management, wait time for gathering your own thoughts, and allowing students to gather theirs. If you appear to be calm, people will see a confident woman who is an excellent listener. No matter what is happening around you, there is power in staying calm.

Diana Maiorca
Diana Maiorca
1180 Activity Points

Appear calm. Use silence. Silence is effective for class management, wait time for gathering your own thoughts, and allowing students to gather theirs. If you appear to be calm, people will see a confident woman who is an excellent listener. No matter what is happening around you, there is power in staying calm.

Diana Maiorca
Diana Maiorca
1180 Activity Points

Those are all really great suggestions Sandra. Thank you for sharing those.

Ava Aldcroft
Ava Aldcroft
595 Activity Points

As a brand new teacher I would have to say that you should go in ready to teach. Do not try and be their friends. It's better to be over prepared than to run out of materials and work. Have your lessons pre-planned and if you must tweek them along the way do so. Do not move on to the next tek just because you have to. It is better to have them master the previous tek then to assume they got it and then cram at the end before an important task. One thing that is very important is for you not to stop teaching just because you assume they already know it or because all other colleagues do. You will be glad you did not stop teaching because in the end you will have less to cram for when it comes to reviewing for the exams.

Zaida Serrato
Zaida Serrato
1770 Activity Points

This is such a good question. I am still in college and sometimes I wish I could just have multiple days to sit and talk with experienced teachers. Teaching is so broad and I feel like the more advice people give and get the better!

Jennifer Pickett
Jennifer Pickett
655 Activity Points

I really love Sandra's suggestions, they are the core values I am trying to keep in mind as I will also be a future educator as well! I think it is very important to have a teaching philosophy and strive to live by it. I heard your first year is not as bad as they make it sound like.

Tina La
Tina La
1740 Activity Points

Get your management down from day one. Over plan! Relationships with your children are key to a successfully managed room- learn all you can about them as individuals. Your first year is the easiest- it's the following years that are much harder. When you first start off you don't know what you don't know.

Erin Eckholt
Erin Eckholt
545 Activity Points

I've never heard anybody say that the first year of teaching is the easiest. I've always heard the reverse.

Jill Dimitriou
Jill Dimitriou
445 Activity Points

I have a quick question for you. Why do you say the fist year is the hardest? Most people say the opposite. I am curious why you believe that. 

Jamie Edgington
Jamie Edgington
275 Activity Points

Collect all the resources (stuff) you possibly can!! You never know when you might need something. If you go to conferences, collect everything possible that is free!! Even small things add up and can be useful when you least expect it.

Betty Paulsell
Betty Paulsell
48540 Activity Points

I agree, keep everything...and keep it organized! I use plastic bins with lids and keep them labeled!

Elisia Grim
Elisia
2030 Activity Points

Find a fellow teacher that you can ask questions from. Make sure they are patient, because you will have a huge lesarning curve and may need to ask the same questions over and over. And that is OK to ask the same question more than once. Don't wait until too late to ask if you are unsure of what to do. Remember, one day you will be doing the same thing to another new teacher.

Sue Garcia
Sue Garcia
42665 Activity Points

Working with other teachers is probably one of the best ways to help you prepare for your teaching years. Over plan your strategies and lessons to be ready for anything. Know your students as well as you can and find something that will get the students comfortable with you. Do your best and enjoy teaching, the reward is greater than anyone can tell you.

Christopher Vallina
Christopher Vallina
765 Activity Points

It is often said that the first year is the hardest for new teachers. I myself am still in college preparing for my internship. My philosophy is just to know the students. If the students are comfortable with you and develop the level of trust that all teachers should strive for the teaching will be much more enjoyable. Also, leaning from other teachers can be key to surviving the first year. Oftentimes veteran teachers at the school will "bring up" a rookie teacher and teach them the ways of that particular school and students.

Jessica Lister
Jessica Lister
1360 Activity Points

This is great advice, I am also studying to be an elementary education teacher. Does anyone have any other advice in regards to teaching science at the elementary level?

Gabrielle Gutierrez
Gabrielle Gutierrez
4025 Activity Points

I would suggest that you take things slow and set a goal. In my second year of teaching I took a hands-on science class. I set a goal for myself to teach one science "lab" per week. However, I got a lot of resources in that class so I had a lot of lessons - labs to do. Pick one activity. Try it. If it works, Great!!! If it is a flop reflect on it and ask yourself "why" it didn't work or what could you do to make it work better. There are a lot of lessons/activities on-line, but some of them are often more complicated than necessary. Build your "Library" of activities as you go. Once you have mastered that activity and feel comfortable teaching it, find another to master. If it doesn't interest you, you probably can't sell it to your students. Elementary students need to learn observation skills, and to be able to write about what they see. A rock kit or even 2 or 3 different plants, etc. can be set up as a station for students to go back and observe or study and write about. I have slowly amassed a large quantity of lab equipment over the years. I added things as I did more activities/labs. I share these things with other teachers also.

Sharon Jacobs
Sharon Jacobs
245 Activity Points

Yes, some of this advise is really great and very useful!

Larosa Etienne
Larosa Etienne
1220 Activity Points

I am currently in student teaching in a third grade class. Good advice for me to give is to reflec ton how you will manage your classroom. Every teacher needs start out with a good base of classroom management skills. I was in charge of my third graders for the whole day and I will say because of my good managmeent skills the day went as smoothly as it could go with third graders. They were going on a field trip the following friday. I wrote on the board "Field Trip" and whenever the class was being disruptive when they were supposed to be working I erased a letter. After erasing three letters they knew I was seriously that they will not go on the field trip if all the letters get errased. At the end of the day I was left with only the letter F. I would have not ever eraed the letter F because I did not really have the power to decide if they go or not. I just pulled pins most of the time when I got to the final three letters. I hope this helped!

Mollie Cox
Mollie Cox
1735 Activity Points

I am currently in student teaching in a third grade class. Good advice for me to give is to reflec ton how you will manage your classroom. Every teacher needs start out with a good base of classroom management skills. I was in charge of my third graders for the whole day and I will say because of my good managmeent skills the day went as smoothly as it could go with third graders. They were going on a field trip the following friday. I wrote on the board "Field Trip" and whenever the class was being disruptive when they were supposed to be working I erased a letter. After erasing three letters they knew I was seriously that they will not go on the field trip if all the letters get errased. At the end of the day I was left with only the letter F. I would have not ever eraed the letter F because I did not really have the power to decide if they go or not. I just pulled pins most of the time when I got to the final three letters. I hope this helped!

Mollie Cox
Mollie Cox
1735 Activity Points

Getting to know your students is the key to getting your students engaged. I learned the hard way about getting my students engaged in lessons. I thought the lessons were interesting and fun, well at least they were to me, but when I would let the students begin their independent work the majority of them would be off task having side conversations that were irrelevant to the content we were learning. I recently gave each student a survey to fill out to tell me information about how they learn best. I think this will help me when planning future lessons.

Alexandra Turpin
Alexandra Turpin
1375 Activity Points

I have heard a lot of good advice for first year teachers. 1.Avoid negative teachers and the lounge/lunch area. 2. Every day is different, don't let what happened yesterday to affect today. 3. Not all children are the same, so expect differences in your students. 4. Not everything goes as planned, so make sure you have alternatives.

Christina Hernandez
Christina Hernandez
1880 Activity Points

That Is very good advice for a first year teacher. As I've been completing my lesson with my field experience classes, I realized that a lot of my lessons do not go as planned. MY teachers always tell me to have a plan B and C when conducting my lessons. Also knowing that all children are not the same, is helpful when creating lessons and activities for your class.

Jeniqua McFadden
Jeniqua McFadden
635 Activity Points

This is great advice! I find #3 particularly important. Not all students learn the same way so we need to differentiate instruction to fit their needs!

Katherine Tomaselli
Katherine Tomaselli
1940 Activity Points

I am almost finished with school, and I will be teaching in Elementary as well. One of the things that I hear from experienced teachers is that the first thing you need to have down is your classroom management. For those of you who are experienced, what else do you recommend for someone who will soon be a first year teacher?

Jenny Reyes
Jenny Reyes
1315 Activity Points

You might be interested in the NSTA press book "Rise and Shine: A practical guide for the beginning teacher" with many suggestions and strategies for new teachers on classroom routines, dealing with challenging students, professional development, and starting the school year. http://www.nsta.org/store/product_detail.aspx?id=10.2505/9781936137299 There is also an "extras" section with customizable handouts and other resources.

Mary Bigelow
Mary Bigelow
7845 Activity Points

I am also a student working on my EC-6 Certification. Wow! These are great advices. Thank you all so much for sharing! One of the things that concerns me the most is classroom management. For the first week of school, is it beneficial to use the time to teach students class expectations and practice all of the routines like how to line up, turn in assignments, and raising their hands to speak? I learned that on the first day of school, the teacher can involve the kids in creating classroom rules on a poster and have each students as well as the teacher sign it. The teacher may need to guide students in making rules that are appropriate. I really like this idea because by involving students in the process, it creates a sense of community. I also think that the students would be more likely to hold each other responsible for following the class expectations as well.

Christina Au
Christina Au
2470 Activity Points

Hi! This forum is great! I am also in university working towards my degree in Early Childhood Education and feel like there is so much to be learned before teaching my own class. I find it is extremely helpful to talk with other teachers and listen to their experiences in regard to what works and what doesn't. One of the best pieces of advice I think a teacher has given me was ‘Always consider, would you enjoy doing this if you were the student.’ Especially when it comes to science content, we expect students to formulate their own questions and to inquire about the natural world but if they are not interested you will most certainly not engage them. Another good word of advice I was given was already mentioned by someone. Always expect that everything will not go as planned. It is important to always have a plan B and it is also important to consider other options for your students when remembering that not all students are the same.

Erica Powell
Erica Powell
675 Activity Points

Wow... this forum has extremely useful information. I appreciate all of the veteran teachers looking out for us newbies. I will be starting next fall and I am steadily adding material to my NSTA account so that I have it ready for when I need it. Thanks again!!!

Claudia Rex
Claudia Rex
3180 Activity Points

I am currently a student teacher in a first grade classroom and these are really helpful. Thank you for sharing!

Jenny Hwang
Jenny Hwang
4755 Activity Points

Eading this forum has been so helpful,mulile you I am also in college and will be a new teacher. Advice that I could give is time management, confidence of knowledge of the content, and hands-on experiences. I feel our students need to get out from behind a desk and get dirt. Student learn and retain information when they are out there collecting data and participating in investigations.

ELANE GIRWARR
Elane Girwarr
385 Activity Points

All of you new teachers are right on board if you are reading and learning from this forum and more importantly the Learning Center! Good Luck all! Keep reading and talking about Science!

Susan O'Brien
Susan O'Brien
1870 Activity Points

Another great learning/reflection activity is National Board Certification! In a few years....... try that!

Susan O'Brien
Susan O'Brien
1870 Activity Points

There is an NSTA forum "New Teachers" that has many suggestions, too.

Mary Bigelow
Mary Bigelow
7845 Activity Points

Build community - have a class theme! Over plan, and have a plan B! Build relationships with your colleagues, students, and families.

Kim Bautista
Kim Bautista
950 Activity Points

I am also very nervous being that I too am in student teaching. Reading the posts that others have posted I believe are really beneficial. I like how somebody said "there are not bad students, there are just students that need help with the way they regulate," I find that to be very true. As future educators we must learn from our experiences and need to help mold our students to be better rather than labeling them or diagnosing them.

Ashley Gonzales
Ashley Gonzales
1640 Activity Points

I agree! I feel that we just need to get to know how they learn, and dont take it personally when these "bad kids" act out. I am a student teacher and I find that if i talk to these kids ahead of time, give them small achievable expectations for a segment, and praise their small increments of good behavior, they seem to be able to handle that.

Krystal Clover
Krystal Clover
455 Activity Points

This is my first year of student teaching as well and I'm so glad that you brought up this question! Reading all of these posts really gave me some insight into what it takes to handling being a first year teacher. Here are some of the things I've heard from my teaching mentors and supervisors. First is that it is okay to make mistakes as a first year teacher, second is to really get to know all of your students and allow them to get to know yourself, and last is to come to work with a positive mentality because it is so easy nowadays for beginning teachers to get overly stressed causing most of them to burn out! I hope these tips were helpful.

Van Phan
Van Phan
1535 Activity Points

Thank you for asking this question I am also in school and I will be graduating soon and I a nervous on how my first year as a teacher will be but after reading all the advice that people have posted I feel a bit more confident on what to expect and do my first year. Thank you for all the advice.

Mireya Alvarado
Mireya Alvarado
1455 Activity Points

I have been teaching 24 years - middle school and then high school #1 Relax and Enjoy #2 Be kind #3 What you are doing is important and the attitude you have while you do it is even more important #4 You are only a small piece of the kids life, don't take up more than your fair share unless it is to be a positive piece. #5 The classroom relationship is very important and it is your responsibility as the adult in the classroom, when that relationship fails it is your responsibility to repair it. #6 Don't argue with kids. You can easily win any argument because you are the adult, sometimes when you win.... you lose. #7 Relax and Enjoy

Daniel Carroll
Daniel Carroll
18550 Activity Points

I am in the student teaching process myself! I would suggest creating interactive lessons or else the students get restless. The students love to learn by doing. I did an activity the other day by making a giant food web that required the students to make a circle around the room and pass around yarn to make a giant web. They loved it because they were able to move and interact while learning was still in place. I enjoy teaching the older grades because I feel in the younger grades, teachers often lean towards the "cute lessons/assignments" rather than lessons that include interaction and rigor. I would also tell you that having classroom management techniques in your back pocket would be extremely useful! Because when you do these fun activities, the students get more excited which increase their energy level and it creates chaos. Having great classroom management is definitely a plus!

Heather Peacock
Heather Peacock
1400 Activity Points

Most of the comments in this forum have been of great help for me. I am also in student teaching and the more time I spend in the classroom the more confident I become. I have asked many of the teachers in the school I am currently in about what is important to do before and during the first year teaching. They gave me the same answers that I have read in the forum, having resources, a classroom management plan, and building good relationship with students, teachers, and staff.

Roxana Rivas
Roxana Rivas
1310 Activity Points

All of the experienced teachers I've talked to always say to make sure that you are on good terms with special education teachers, speech pathologists, the secretary, and the custodians. My mom, a veteran speech pathologist, said to buy the special education teacher a coffee. Credential programs don't prepare teachers for the special needs students in their classes. The more resources a teacher has, the better.

Jill Dimitriou
Jill Dimitriou
445 Activity Points

I am so thankful for this thread! I will be starting in December, so any advice is great advice!

Mary Mull
Mary Mull
900 Activity Points

I like the NSTA information that is given for us to used.

Michelle Finzen
Michelle Finzen
4720 Activity Points

I am glad I came across this post! I am less than three weeks away from finishing my student teaching and am excited/nervous to become a teacher and have my own classroom. I couldn't agree more with one of the earlier posts who said: - Keep everything (lessons, conferences, etc.). Even though it might not work for one class, it might for another the next year. - Create a sense of community in your classroom. Have jobs for them, do things together, hold them accountable, etc. - Never take work home. You will never separate the two if you merge the two. Stay late if needed but never take it home. - Stay connected with parents/guardians. Always keep in contact with what is going on with their child (even for the good). - There are never BAD children. There are just children that need help with the way they regulate anger and redirection. - Look for signs of disabilities but do not diagnose children. Use your information to best differentiate the instruction. These are HUGE takeaways that I learned from being inside the classroom working with students and my guide teacher. Reading the other posts connected to this thread reassured my beliefs on what great teachers need to keep in mind. Thank you for posting this thread =)

Crystal Umali
Crystal Umali
430 Activity Points

I am in the same boat and I enjoyed and captured the advice from your post. thank you for sharing and asking an important question.

KRISTEN TROLINGER
KRISTEN TROLINGER
325 Activity Points

For the beginning of the school year, teachers can create a welcoming environment by having students create circle maps. Circle Maps help create a diversified classroom by exposing students to each others personal thoughts, beliefs and ideas. Circle Maps can help students see the differences in others. Circle Maps help students relate to one another as they learn more deeply about others cultures, beliefs and experiences. Circle Maps are used to help define and show understandings on different topics. They help create new ideas and see things differently. They also help us experience and understand things from another person’s point of view. Circle Maps can be used to connect students, plan instruction and engage learners by creating a form interest to the topics. The teacher for example, can base her curriculum on students needs. The circle map is a platform for student cooperation and teamwork by allowing them to understand and view their classmate’s thoughts and ideas. Circle Maps also create a way for students and teachers to share knowledge and understanding. I believe that Circle Maps are a great and effective tool for a diverse classroom.

Yunet Pelaez
Yunet Pelaez
2980 Activity Points

In my first year of teaching, I think classroom management is the most important and also the most challenging. If you can't get them to listen, they won't be learning anything. Plus every class is different.

Erin Smith
ERIN SMITH
265 Activity Points

Pick your battles! I came out of college thinking everything I was taught had prepared me for a real classroom. There are so many variables with students you just need to be flexible.

Angela Vasquez
Angela Vasquez
1165 Activity Points

Great suggestions!

Alba Portillo
Alba Portillo
580 Activity Points

I would say BE FLEXIBLE! Evaluate how your lesson is going and be ready to change it to fit that particular class. Also, if you want to change it for the next year, make sure you note it immediately- you will never remember the next year if you don't! It is also ok to not have every answer. I remember all of the questions about "space" my first year. I was so overwhelmed! We created a bulletin board to post questions on and we would work together to find answers in free time. Good luck!

Sarah Keever
Sarah Keever
550 Activity Points

I am currently in the process of getting my teaching credential. I am student teaching in a second grade classroom. From what I have learned and observed, the most important thing is communication with your colleagues. My school does biweekly collaborations with the other teachers in our same grades. This is a great way to get ideas from other more experienced teachers. Also, keep everything you do as far as lessons. You will love having them already available in the future. 

Sammi Toia
Sammi Toia
360 Activity Points

Great suggestions!

Agnes Chavez
Agnes Chavez
1075 Activity Points

Yes! I am studying to be a teacher as well. Thank you everyone for the advice!

Rachel Ryan
Rachel Ryan
820 Activity Points

I am also a future student. I have heard many negative and positive things. I think the best way to go is to be confident and think positive. There is always something wonderful that will happen around students that will make you realize why you wanted to teach. It is very rewarding to know some of your students will look up to you. Just give it the best that you have, at least that's what I tell myself.

Maria Castillo
Maria Castillo
1475 Activity Points

This was a very useful thread! As a future teacher I will definitely take all this advice on board! Thank you.

Anna Wilkinson
Anna Wilkinson
1070 Activity Points

I am also in the same situation as you are! I have learned a lot in my student teaching experience and I hope that everything that I have learned will help me when I have my own classroom. Maybe at your school, there is a mentor program where new teachers have a mentor in a veteran teacher. If there isn't, maybe you could try to find a mentor teacher to assist you when you need help and will give advice when you need it. I will!

Lauren Redden
Lauren Redden
745 Activity Points

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