Resources >> Browse Articles >> Advice Columns


10 Tips for Struggling First-Year Teachers

10 Tips for Struggling First-Year Teachers

"Don’t forget that your students need an energetic and caring teacher. That means that you need to take care of yourself and not let your stressful job wear you down."

Julia G. Thompson |

The following is part of Teaching’s exclusive Dear Julia column:

Dear Julia,

As a new teacher/interventionist working with students that are struggling in all areas, it has become increasingly difficult to maintain a classroom discipline that is firm and consistent, and this has been a problem in our school since the corporation merged two schools into one. The biggest problem I have is not having complete and total support from the administration. They are not fair across the board with all students, and it is not uncommon to see students in the office daily and really nothing but happening to them as far as a punishment. Referrals to the students equal free time and that’s not what they are for.

I know many elements are out of my hands and control while other elements are in my complete control (myself being firm with my discipline), but what are some things that I can use or do to help motivate and keep students in a friendly, cohesive learning environment that is void of name calling and other negative elements?

First year teacher in distress because the school is a crazy environment.

Dear Distressed First-Year Teacher,

Your circumstances – merged schools and administrators who are not as helpful or supportive as you need them to be- have really created a tough situation for you. The saddest aspect, however, is that you do not perceive the administrators as being fair. Somehow fair treatment of students should be the bottom line. I think most of us would feel a great deal of stress in your situation.

Anyway, I have to commend you for a positive and problem-solving attitude. You are on the right track on several counts. First, you realize that there are things you can’t control and so just have to let them go. Next, you realize that the thing you do have control of is what happens in your classroom. With that in mind, here are a few suggestions to help you create that “friendly, cohesive learning environment” that you want for your students and for yourself.

1. Unify

To build class unity you have to make sure that students know what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. Pay attention how to the procedures, policies, and rules in your class seem to be working. Don’t be afraid to tweak those that may need a bit of adjustment as your students have become familiar with you and with each other this year.

2. Peace

Give your students (and yourself) moments of peace in the day by offering times when they work independently. You do not have to be on all day long. By doing this, you lower the ambient stress level and give kids a break from each other and from you while still encouraging them to work.

3. Teach courtesy.

You did not say how old your students are, but even the oldest student can benefit from reminders about the types of behaviors that are appropriate for school social interactions and those that are not.

Continue reading on the next page.

Teaching School Finder

Save time in your search for a degree program. Use Teaching's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.

* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.