By Stacy Rucker and Lindy Guadiano
To all newly minted teachers: CONGRATULATIONS!!! The final semester and student-teaching experiences have come to an end. Commencement celebrations have concluded, and the signed teaching contracts have been finalized. So, now what? What is most anxiety-inducing to the novice teacher is the unknown. Questions are screaming out of your head: Will I be prepared? How will I set up my classroom? What will the first day of school look like? Will the students like me? Will the other teachers like me?
These questions are not exclusive to one teacher, and they could overwhelm most new teachers when they prepare to enter the classroom. However, by remembering these four rules, you can allay the first day of school jitters of teaching in your classroom.
You are a star to your students and their fresh minds. They look to you as a leader and a gem and someone who is in control. They will not see your fears and worries. All they see is someone to look up to for the next year and the provider of fun learning experiences. Smile and welcome students with open arms.
Classrooms are a sensation to learners. They enter through the doors anticipating the excitement of what they will be learning and doing. Design this space with this in mind. Placements of bulletin boards, nametags, cubbies or the reading corner will not matter to your students. Give them a place that is safe, motivating and creative. Allow them to grow in their social, emotional and cognitive skills with the support of the classroom community.
Anyone can make it through a day. Just be prepared. Teaching is a sprint and not a marathon, much like other new experiences in life. You do not need to plan for the last day of school. You need to plan for each day knowing the classroom is productive, safe and engaging. Show students compassion, energy, empathy and kindness. Let them see there is no other place to be but right there in the classroom with their peers. Make them feel equally important and independent. They will be forever grateful for this lesson and foundation.
Finally everything you need to know you already know. You have spent countless hours in classrooms practicing for this moment. You have celebrated your accomplishments and jumped over hurdles. You have anticipated this moment for the last few years. You are prepared, and you are ready! Smile, love and most importantly teach.
Stacy Rucker received her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and her two Master’s degrees in Early Childhood Education and Organizational Growth and Leadership. She is certified in Early Childhood Education and is a K-12 Reading Specialist. She spent 10 years teaching in pre-k through third grade classrooms in the public school setting. She is currently the Assistant Director of education programs, teaching in the higher education classroom environment, and working toward earning a PhD in Cognition and Instruction.
Lindy Gaudiano received her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and her Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an Emphasis in Elementary Education Reading. She is certified in Elementary Education and is an Elementary Reading Specialist. She spent time teaching in a first grade classroom in the public school setting before transitioning to Higher Education. She is currently Director of Education Programs, teaching in the higher education classroom environment, and working toward earning a PhD in Industrial Organization.