Top Teacher Tips for First-Year Fears

About to start your first job, and stressing about everything that’s heading your way? Sleepless nights due to excitement and stress, or maybe you’re starting to get the back to school dreams already. Whether it’s your first year or your tenth, the impending approach of a new year can be stressful, exciting, and terrifying all at once! Check out these things I wish I had known as a first-year teacher and put your mind at ease.

Tips for a First-Year Teacher:

1. Don’t buy ANYTHING* until you see what’s in your classroom! Maybe think about a bulletin board to make, but again..lots of schools have things just left in the rooms from previous teachers not cleaning up after themselves.

*Okay, you can buy one thing. A pair of shoes you could walk to the moon and back in. I’m not kidding. If you couldn’t wear the pair of shoes hiking the Andes you probably don’t want them to teach in. (slight hyperbole. SLIGHT).

2. Planning: What do you know about your content?  I would contact your principal or department head and make sure you have access to your email or Google/OneDrive account. Ask to see any textbooks/materials for courses you’re in charge of. Ask if there’s a pacing guide and if your department gives common assessments. Are there tests created already? (Maybe I should have asked this first, but are you in a big or small department? How closely will you be working with others?) If there are, ask for copies of things – at least for the first test of each level you’re teaching. If there’s not..think about what you want the kids in that level to learn, create your test, and work backward from there.

Don’t get SUPER specific in your lesson planning just yet because otherwise you’ll have to change things as you learn the kiddos and what your classes are like, BUT I would suggest making sure you  have a test and some formative assessments for that first chapter, as well as like..3-5 days of lessons for that first chapter. You won’t use them right away because the first days of school are crazy, but you’ll love yourself for having some plans ready to go that you can fall back on.

Something else you’ll love having ready? A sub binder! Click here for a free download!

3. The First Day(s): Don’t stress too much, and don’t go overboard, but it’s nice to have a plan. Are you going to intro yourself? Play get to know you games? Go through a syllabus/expectations? Laura Sexton at PBL in the TL has some station activities for her first day I have been eyeing for literally YEARS, but my type A personality freaks out at the thought of doing stations without getting to know the kids first. I love controlled chaos, but I think for me that would turn into just chaos.

My typical go to greet them at the door, and do a card seating arrangement like from Martina Bex , then talk a little bit about myself in the TL, then talk about things that can help them understand the TL and the 90% goal. Transition to English, discuss what they understood, how they understood it. what clues helped? Usually they list things like gestures, intonation, cognates-even though they don’t know that word, pictures, etc. Then we go over expectations, talking about what they should be doing while I’m giving them lots and lots of Spanish input, and we go through the rest of the syllabus ‘highlights’ (get my syllabus template here!).

*Edited 9/1/2018 to add that this year I tried a new first day activity that was AWESOME! Check it out here!*

Top Tips for First-Year Fears | Srta Spanish


The biggest thing to remember as you’re starting this year? Don’t take criticism too hard, do your best to learn from it and grow as a first-year teacher. You’re learning and growing as much (or more) than your students are!


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