The Chalk Blog

Best Advice for New Teachers

what makes an excellent teacher 

This week's blog post writer is Molly Kiebel. Molly is a Curriculum & Instruction Specialist with Learners Edge. Prior to joining the Edge, Molly was a high school English language arts teacher. Molly loves helping teachers and students find new ways to grow! Whenever time allows, you’ll find her enjoying the great Minnesota outdoors with her husband and two daughters.

Chances are, if you are a new teacher, you’ve already experienced the joys of being sneezed on, cried on, laughed at, or hugged to death this year. You’ve probably also received lots of great advice from fellow teachers, your mom or dad, and quite possibly the nice lady at the convenience store who noticed you buying 30 packs of highlighters at 10PM on a Tuesday night. So what makes an excellent teacher? How do you know you're doing it right? Most veteran teachers will admit this is a question we ask ourselves every year. Great teachers are not born, they are made over time, through education, perseverance, practice, guidance, and lot of small "firsts." If you’ve experienced even a few of these this year, you are well on your way! We wish you the best now and in the future! 

dr seuss image.jpgImage credit:

16 ‘Firsts’ That Prove You are Becoming an Excellent Teacher 

  1. The first time you improvise a successful lesson because of a technology failure 
  2. The first time you face a major disappointment with your students and don’t internalize the message ‘I am a failure’ 
  3. The first time a fellow teacher you respect disagrees with a decision you’ve made, but you stand by it because you’re confident about your choice 
  4. The first time you hear a colleague express concerns about a student’s behavior and think, wait, I have a great relationship with that student!
  5. The first time you choose the fruit salad instead of the brownie platter in the teachers’ lounge because you realize moderation really is the key to happiness 
  6. The first time you are able to laugh at yourself when you make a mistake in front of your class 
  7. The first time your students show you they are having fun and learning at the same time (even if they won’t admit it!) 
  8. The first time you calm a concerned parent by talking through a problem together 
  9. The first time you don’t break into a cold sweat when your principal decides to join your class unannounced 
  10. The first time you look around your classroom and every student looks happy to be there 
  11. The first time you intentionally leave your grading on your desk at school because you have an important me-time plan after work--a balanced life is important! 
  12. The first time you’re able to offer advice to a colleague that helps them find more strength, success, or joy 
  13. The first time you admit you need help and ask for it without feeling like it makes you weak 
  14. The first time you choose to take three deep breaths and smile rather than scream or burst into tears (we’ve all been there, right?) 
  15. The first time you realize you are learning as much from your students as they are learning from you 
  16. The first time you face a struggle and say to yourself tomorrow will be a better day and it is

What are some other 'firsts' that you think prove that you are becoming an amazing teacher? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!

Looking for additional specific things that great teachers do...that others do not? Explore such issues as classroom management, testing, decision making and classroom relationships by enrolling in Learners Edge Course 855: What Great Teachers Do and take your teaching from good to great.

Check out some additional teaching advice for new teachers in our Teaching Tips blog post.


Topics: New Teacher

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