10 Valuable Tips that Help Every New Teacher Develop and Grow

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Nationally, 12 percent of all public school teachers are in their first or second year of teaching, according to U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights. In some states, it is even more than 15 percent. This means many teachers are in their own learning process while also teaching our nation’s children. Teaching is a lot about practice and reflection on action. As true in all vocations, good teachers are constantly asking how they can improve their teaching to better help their students. Many new teachers are starting with a blank page which is exciting and full of potential, but also intimidating. There is no one way to be “a great teacher.” But there are a few things you can do to make it easier. Here are 10 tips to adopt into your teaching practice that will help you meet your students’ needs and support their learning:

1. Be Patient With Yourself

Becoming the best teacher doesn’t happen overnight. There will likely be a lot of mistakes and maybe even temporary failure, but it is important to learn and grow from those experiences.


2. Give Students Breaks

When students are constantly straining themselves mentally, they can be pushed to exhaustion. Especially when students are just sitting at desks all day. It’s important that children have breaks in their learning where they can relax and rejuvenate before the next lesson. If you are looking for ideas to give students a brain break, check out the Math & Movement “About” page. Students can benefit from Math ‘N Yoga Activities, Sit Down Math, Whisper/Loud Movements, and Hallway Math, among others!


3. Use Culturally Responsive Teaching Methods in the Classroom

Culturally Responsive Teaching recognizes the importance of including students’ cultural references in all aspects of learning (Ladson-Billings,1994). Try to establish inclusion in the classroom so that all students feel their identities are validated.


4. Enhance Social Emotional Learning

Social Emotional Learning helps students manage their emotions, appreciate the perspectives of others, establish positive goals, and make responsible decisions. For example, a teacher can promote mindfulness by creating a mood board where students associate moods with colors. This way you can check in with students on how they are feeling throughout the day and what they need to be happy.


5. Recognize Struggling Students

When students are “acting out” or struggling to focus that could be for a variety of reasons. As a teacher, it is important to be patient and not immediately label the student as a troublemaker. Instead, try to find the root of the problem. There is always an alternative solution to harsh discipline or separating the student from their learning.


6. Use Research-Based Strategies – Try a Kinesthetic Approach to Teaching

A combination of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles can be implemented in multiple ways. Often, teachers will only teach through one learning style that does not benefit all learners. Math & Movement creates a fun learning experience through floor mats that engage students of all learning styles. Check out Math & Movement’s website for helpful ideas and kinesthetic activities.


7. Find a Mentor

Veteran educators are always willing to share their experience and lesson plans with you if you ask for assistance. Seek out help from teachers who you admire and see are respected by their students and their peers. For instance, several veteran teachers have used Math & Movement in their classrooms. We are happy to connect you with one of our team members for advice!


8. Be a Warm Demander

Often, new teachers just want the students to like them. Although having a strong relationship with students is helpful, it is also important to maintain classroom management. A warm demander is a teacher who understands this relationship and is able to have warm expectations that the students will follow. This way, the students will respect you and also have a productive learning environment.


9. Stay Inspired

It’s important that new teachers join local associations, online communities, and other related organizations for ongoing support and training. Take advantage of professional development and continually study the latest best practice and research and then implement it into your teaching. Did you know that Math & Movement provides grant mentoring so teachers can gain the skills to write proposals to bring Math & Movement to their students? Sign up here for your first practice grant – the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education program!  


10. Reflect

One of the most important aspects of teaching is reflection on action. In many ways, it can seem easier to just teach to the test and measure your success by meeting all of the standard requirements. However, at the end of the day, this is can be detrimental to the students’ long-term academic success. Practicing new strategies and making custom lesson plans will serve your students best if you follow those activities with thoughtful reflection on the impact they had. When teachers reflect on their actions and teaching through journal entries and other forms of observation they continue to grow and develop.

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