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How to Feel Prepared in Your First Year of Teaching

Imagine landing your very first teaching job at 23 years old. I was thrilled!

But… there were just 5 days until school would start for the year. {Insert feelings of PANIC!}

Luckily, I was able to recruit my sister to help. We worked ‘round the clock to set up.

On the first day of school, my heart pounded as students walked through the door. I was ready to teach my kindergarteners how to read, write numbers and all the other things I’d learned in college. (Or so I thought!)

It didn’t take long for reality to set in. Everything I learned in college went out the window when I was faced with 20 tiny people with so much to learn, not just about academics… but about life and school and relationships.

I may have felt prepared to teach reading and math, but I was NOT prepared to build a well-rounded positive learning community with these 5 year olds.

Hi! I’m Angel Honts. I’m a classroom community strategist and experienced elementary teacher here to share all the tips, tricks, and methods I’ve developed over the years to help you build a positive learning community with your students.

A positive classroom community is the foundation of everything we do with our students. It helps us to make lasting connections with students, and it makes everything else about teaching EASIER. Your students will work harder, they’ll build relationships with one another, and you might even get to kick back for a few minutes and take a deep breath while your students are working away.

When students know you care, they work harder at learning!

So before you start prepping all those adorable math centers and organizing the books, let’s chat about 3 things you can do to build a positive learning community with your students and feel prepared for teaching.

1. Set your classroom expectations

Life is easier when we know what to expect, am I right?

Have you ever been invited to a dinner with a friend to a brand new restaurant you’ve never visited before?

You have so many questions running through your mind! “What kind of food is served here? Is it fancy or casual? How should I dress? Is it expensive? Do people generally stay a long time or fly through their meal?”

Knowing where you’re headed and what the norms are within a space helps us feel at ease… and that’s no different for our students! They need to know exactly what to expect inside your classroom, and even from subject to subject.

You might be thinking… “I’m not even sure I know what to expect from this classroom yet!”

And that’s ok! Your students will tell you if you give them the opportunity. Get out some chart paper and ask them what they think. What are some expectations we need to set to make our classroom a peaceful place for learning? You’ll be amazed at what they come up with!

Quick tip: If your students are stuck with figuring out expectations… ask them what we should NOT do in our classroom. They’ll have fun coming up with answers for that!

2. Put a morning meeting time on your schedule

I know that having a meeting in the morning with students takes time. And you have so much to get done in a day!

But I promise that intentionally starting your day as a classroom community will set the tone for the entire school day, setting everyone up for success.

Kids are coming into your classroom in the morning with lots on their mind. Maybe they forgot to eat breakfast or they had an argument with a sibling before getting on the bus. Maybe they didn’t get enough sleep last night, or they’re worried about today’s math lesson. Give your students time and space to get settled into the environment.

Even if your morning meeting is just 10 minutes, that’s 10 minutes of quality time as a classroom community that will make the rest of the day easier for everyone.

3. Have routines for everything!

Take a minute and think of all the routines in your day. You probably have a routine for getting ready in the morning, maybe a routine for getting your own kids ready for school, a routine for prepping dinner, and maybe even a routine for working out. Our lives run on routines… for good reason!

Routines save us time. They help us build community with those around us who are involved in the routines because there’s a sense that everyone has a role that contributes to the goal.

This is the same for the classroom! Your students will feel proud to carry out their role in the daily routines. Whether it’s putting away materials in the right spot or lining up for lunch, your students will take pride in seeing the routines through.

Building a positive learning environment takes time. There’s a lot to consider and your students will need many opportunities to practice. But refining your learning environment can help you create a peaceful, joyful classroom space for your students… and for you!

So if you’re new to teaching… instead of learning more about how to teach academics, set aside some time to learn about building a positive learning community. You’ll thank me later!

Inside my “Building Classroom Community” class, I’ll teach you the foundation of classroom community, why it’s so important and what it really is! It’s like having a classroom community mentor by your side.

Click the picture below and get instant access to the class, so you can start learning and implementing right away!

Until next time,

Angel