These teacher tips from the experts that you probably never learned in school will save your rear end time after time.
These are things experienced teachers know, but they’re not always talked about. They’re certainly not taught in any credential programs I know of. So let’s dive right in!
Teacher Tips # 1: Befriend the custodian, the front office personnel, and the IT personnel.
This is the NUMBER ONE piece of advice I received as a newbie teacher, and it’s still the NUMBER ONE piece of advice. As a new teacher, you may not anticipate how much you’ll be relying on these people for EVERYTHING.
Sure, you can clean up your own classroom messes, but the custodian is the one who can give you extra large trash bags for parties, extra cleaning kits for minor spills, and keep those windows sparkling.
The custodians are some of the people who are the heart of the school. If you need something, and you haven’t shown them any consideration, your request may end up at the bottom of their to-do list. Do yourself a favor and make friends early…before school starts, if possible.
School Front Office Personnel
The same is true of the front office personnel. They’re your lifeline to the day-to-day administravia that needs to get done, but sometimes isn’t possible for you to do when you have 32 smiling faces beaming at you in anticipation of the next lesson. I’ve called the front office personnel for help with translation, calling parents when kids are sick, calling for back-up when a situation arose in the classroom, and more. They also called me on the weekly to send in my attendance! 🙂 We all make that mistake. In return, I always remembered to treat them to flowers from my garden, little jars of jam I made, and coffee when I stopped on the way to school. Just be a friend and they’ll be a friend to you.
School IT Personnel
Information Technology people should also be on your top-of-the-list. Treat them with as much kindness and consideration as you do the other critical school employees. In return, they’ll respond to your queries or cries for help faster. You may get dibs on the new equipment first. When things break down, (and they will), the IT team will take care of you if you’ve created a friendly bond with them.
If you don’t take any other tip from this list, this is the one to remember.
Teacher Tips # 2: Keep a real first aid kit handy.
I remember my first year of teaching and I asked for Band-Aids. I received a handful of about 5 bandages. Now that was a wake up call.
I dug around and found an old, dusty first aid kit in a closet of my classroom. I went through it and discarded the latex gloves that were so old they were stiff, the gauze packages that had opened up, and anything else that looked suspect or had expired. I went to the store and picked up a ready made first aid kit and a couple of packages of bandages.
You never know who is going to get a scrape or worse, so it’s best to be prepared.
You probably already know this, but a Band-Aid can cure anything. Am I right? Kids think Band-Aids are magic. But it’s a hassle if they’re forever asking you for bandages and you’re having to fish them out of the first aid kit.
I put about 30 Band-Aids in a plastic pencil box and put it in the cupboard of supplies where the students could access it. They were allowed to take a Band-Aid whenever they felt they needed one. If they had a microscopic paper cut, or an almost invisible hangnail, they could get a bandage without having to ask me for it.
This was a novelty at the beginning of the year, but after about a week, it became a normal thing. You might think they would abuse the privilege and use way too many bandages. But they didn’t. The system worked really well, and I recommend it to any teacher who wants to foster independence in their students.
Teacher Tips # 3: Keep an extra change of clothes in your room or locker.
Who hasn’t spilled coffee on their outfit? Or if you teach in the lower grades, had a child give you a hug with a little something extra from their nose? Anything can happen during the school day, so this one is essential.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Teacher Tip #3 When you have pajama day at school or you dress up like a book character for a day, you don’t want to go to a meeting or the store dressed like that. Keep an extra set of clothes at school as a kindness to yourself.” quote=”Teacher Tip #3 When you have pajama day at school or you dress up like a book character for a day, you don’t want to go to a meeting or the store dressed like that. Keep an extra set of clothes at school as a kindness to yourself.” theme=”style3″]
Teacher Tips # 4: Create extras of everything you set up for students on the first day of school.
This little trick is such a teacher timesaver that I don’t know why more teachers don’t do it. At the beginning of the year, when you’re setting up the student supplies, make an extra three or four sets.
I always gave students two color coded folders, a composition notebook, pencils, erasers, a dry erase marker, and various papers that we used on the daily. I also gave them a nameplate.
I made extra sets with blank nameplates and stored them in a basket in a cupboard. Then, when I was notified that I’d be getting a new student the next morning, there was no need to scramble or stress out. I just laid the extra set on their desk, filled out their nameplate, added them to my gradebook, and asked another student to be their buddy for a few days.
Teacher Tips # 5: Have a sub kit from the first day forward.
Some people have sub binders, some have sub drawers, some have sub tubs. I’m special, so I always kept a sub binder and a sub tub for my guest teachers.
In the sub binder, I had class lists, with photos. I had the procedures for the daily routine. I had the class schedule. I had pages the sub could copy for open ended activities, such as comprehension questions for any book, and that sort of thing. I also included a page for the guest teacher to write me a note. I left this binder on my desk every day before I left to go home.
In the sub tub, I kept three days worth of work. I made copies of assignments from all the core subjects along with copies of extra activities for early finishers. I also included a small snack such as a granola bar.
Each quarter during the year, it’s a good idea to go through the sub tub and update the assignments so that they match the level your students are at. You probably don’t want to give an addition worksheet to students if they’ve already moved on to multiplication.
Teacher Tips # 6: Keep a tub of extra activities for early finishers.
You’re always going to have one (or more) student that will finish everything fast. Or perhaps they have one subject in which they excel and they finish early.
Some teachers keep a poster on the wall of things the students can do if they finish early. That might include reading, writing on a fun topic, playing an educational game, or something else. I always recommend having a basket or file tray with extra activities the students enjoy but still learn while doing.
I kept things like math pages with riddles to solve, or fraction kaleidoscopes to solve and color. I also kept pages for book commercials, so the students could prepare a one minute book commercial to share with the class. The students also loved the opportunity to get a computer and finish online work or activities.
It’s a good idea to keep in mind that you’ll always have students who finish early and say, “What do I do now?” Having several activities for them to choose from will avoid any problems with them disrupting other students as they work, and will keep them learning during those extra moments.
Bonus Teacher Tips # 7 – Set Boundaries
This tip can be such a sanity saver for you. Have you ever had a parent call you late at night or super early in the morning?
Here’s a cold, hard truth. Get ready for it.
If you make yourself available all the time for your students and parents, they will think you’re totally fine with it. They’ll take advantage of it.
You’re not a chatbot, available at all hours of the day and night. Nor do you need to be.
Set Office Hours
Do it right from the first day of school.
It’s easy to do if you’re using a communication app such as Remind, or ClassDojo, or one of the other parent communication tools for teachers. Once you set hour office hours, let the students and parents know, either at Back to School Night, or in a newsletter home.
My office hours were 7:30 to 5:00. Parents knew that and they respected it. When we were doing online virtual learning, I had a specific office hour in the afternoon for students to come for help and for parents to get some tutoring, too. Since it was very specific, everyone respected it.
Not a single person ever complained about it.
On rare occasions, I took calls after hours, but it was by my choice, and not because I felt required to do so.
Remember. You deserve the weekends to relax. You deserve your evenings to relax. You don’t have to work 24/7. Set your office hours today.
Do You Want More Teacher Tips?
Here are some tips from other teachers who blog that you might be interested in reading.
- Free Professional Development for Teachers This post has fifty-five, yes, 55 ideas for PD!
- 9 Positive and Proactive Strategies for Classroom Management
- The 7 Things Teachers Wish They Knew During Their First Year of Teaching
- Teacher To-Do List Methods to Boost Productivity
I hope these teacher tips are helpful and give you some ideas to make your teaching years run more smoothly!
P.S. It’s time to get your teaching life organized and in balance, my friend! Find out how you can plan your entire school year in 5 days or less and get off the Sunday hamster wheel (I mean teacher wheel) of looking for lessons at the last minute. Plan ahead and relax! Every teacher deserves the weekend to relax.
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