Are you a new teacher who’s excited to share your passion for science?
Teaching is THE BEST career, but it can also become really overwhelming really quickly. I’ve put it a lot of years, made a lot of mistakes, and wasted A LOT of time…so I’m here to help you learn from my mistakes and enjoy my wins. Lucky you!
Here are 7 helpful tips (in no particular order!) for new science teachers to consider:
- This is my favorite first day of school activity, hands down. It’s basically a puzzle that kids won’t be able to solve right away. They work together in groups and you have to interact with them to give them information along the way. Your observations during this activity will reveal a lot about the students individually as well as the overall class dynamics:
- Who speaks up the most?
- Who is quiet?
- Who has no patience?
- Who tries to talk to other groups for hints?
- Who suggests adjusting the number of dice?
- Who is frustrated?
- Who is afraid of making mistakes?
It gives you a lot of insight, plus you’re starting with something that gets them engaged and excited. AND you’re normalizing things like making mistakes/not knowing everything on the first day – this is a major relief for kids!
2. You might be tempted to spend some time this summer creating a Pinterest-worthy classroom full of perfect science-themed bulletin boards and inspirational quotes. No hate on this at all – I love a well-decorated classroom! I think our space can have a big impact on how we feel day-to-day. BUT keep these two points in mind:
- You probably have a lot of prep work to do for your actual courses, and this should be your priority since it will benefit you and your students more in the end.
- You want the classroom to be a space that students contribute to. I’d suggest minimal decorations to start and leave some space for student-made posters and projects. Here’s a fun idea that can be adapted for lots of topics!
So I’d set up and decorate until you feel like it’s tidy, welcoming, and comfortable to be in. Remember that you have all year to create your dream classroom!
3. When you’re doing your long-term planning for the year, build in opportunities that will give you a bit of a break. For example, I like to include a documentary in each unit if possible as well as an ongoing project.
Movies are not a waste of time (when selected and used properly) and can be a way to learn, anchor, and extend knowledge. They also have the added bonus of very little prep for the teacher!
Ongoing projects are great because they build students’ skills in things like research, collaboration, literacy, time-management, etc. etc. AND they allow you to take a breather when you assign a work period.
4. Use case studies. Buy the $25 membership to the University of Buffalo National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science Collection – the BEST money that you can spend, in my opinion!
5. Grading can get very overwhelming. Check out my #1 Grading Hack and try it! It seems so small but it is LIFE-SAVING! Trust me, you need to find every opportunity possible to reclaim your time in those first years of teaching!
6. Don’t get sucked into the trap of thinking that “covering content” means that students have learned that content. Make regular retrieval part of your classes!
Don’t miss the final tip – it’s the most important!
7. The most important thing that you can do as a new teacher is to develop strong classroom management skills. Unfortunately, this is not something that is typically focused on enough in Teachers College.
Check out my blog series here for tips on creating and implementing systems, building relationships, and reacting in the moment.
And if you are ready to spend a few hours developing a classroom management plan that targets those three pillars mentioned, you can check out my digital course: What You Wish You Learned in Teachers College: Classroom Management.
Email me at email@example.com if you have any questions!
Seriously…teaching is such a fun and rewarding career! Set yourself up for success by including these tips in your practice!
Are you an ONTARIO SCIENCE TEACHER?
Me too! Click here if you’d like some specific science content that’s aligned to the Ontario curriculum, Growing Success, and all that as, of, for jazz that we know and love! (I promise you won’t be overloaded with emails!)
Interested in other Back-to-School activities? Check out:
Classroom Management Series #2: Tips for Building Relationships
Classroom Management Series #1: Tips for Creating Systems
The #1 Things Teachers Wish They Learned in Teachers College
How to Guarantee that Your Students Will Remember What They Learn
The Proven Blueprint to Using Movies in the Science Classroom
Using YouTube for a Low-Prep Bellringer
My Favorite Way to Start the Science School Year