Little Miss Teacher Blog

By Clara Fiorentini

Thursday, 28 July 2016

So you're going to be a teacher...

Hello everyone!!
I hope you're having a lovely summer and enjoying the odd bit of sunshine we're getting. Blogs been a little quiet for past few weeks but it's nice to take July to yourself! I'm just home from a fabulous girly holidays with my girls in sunny Ibiza...if you haven't been I highly recommend it...that was my fourth time there!!

I know it's important to chill, relax and recharge during the summer but it's also an exciting time for planning a little for the year ahead....ESPECIALLY if you're starting out with your very first teaching position! So in response to a lot of mail and questions about finding your feet, here are some tips for starting your first teaching job.

1. Plan a fun but structured first day.
Your first day will be hectic. Without a doubt. So you want to make it as smooth as possible and get to know your class a little too. You can plan some fun activities to ease your class into the day but keep a certain amount of structure to it. Some team games, ice breakers, circle time...give the class a chance to learn about you and each other.
Be sure to go through your rules. Perhaps you will have yours drawn up already or perhaps you will want to involve your class in this. An activity like "What makes a good classmate?" is always a nice way to break into the "rules" conversation.
"What makes a good classmate?" - You can find this resource and others in my 'Back to School' pack here ---->

This was my rule display for the last two years. Visual reminders are a must for me, especially with the infants. We revise them every morning!

2. Start as you mean to go on.
Image from:
Spend time working on routines. Be firm without being harsh. You can be nervous without being a pushover. September can be a vital month especially in getting your class into a good working routine and working hard at this will make the rest of the year run so much more smoothly. Make a job chart, have a noise-ometer or seatwork guidelines, have a routine for lining up, tidying up, how to behave if someone visits to talk to the teacher, pushing in chairs....I could go on and on here! If you start some of these, stick at them, trust me, it'll take a while for them to stick but they will work.
I've been using this for the past two years...just move the arrow depending on subject or activity! Simple, effective and I don't even notice myself doing it anymore. Second nature!

3. Reap the Rewards.
Plan your rewards system, This can be a nice eye catching display for the first day also. Combine it with your table names. Don't just pick something that you like, think of your class, their age, their interests or something they might learn from. Like for an older class, you could have mountain ranges, countries, capital cities. Twinkl have some fabulous group signs ranging from every idea that you could ever possibly think of! Also if you search 'Class Rewards' on Twinkl you're sure to find everything you need. I use a star chart to match my table groups. My biggest piece of advice? Don't single out your children too much, teach them to reap the rewards as a group. Individual awards can be unfair to children as you'll find it will be the same winners everytime. Balance your groups accordingly. Also, don't feel you always have to reward your students with edible or actual bought prizes, You'd be amazed at how much a little extra PE, some quiet time in your class library, computer time or Golden Time can go down!

4. Wait.

Wait until everyone is listening before you speak. This sounds a bit obvious but on knowing several dip inspectors well, they ALWAYS say this is one of the most frequent problems they encounter on visits! It might take time, it might irritate you but just have patience and WAIT. Save your voice, use a rainmaker, echo clapping, a buzzer, a bell, a hand signal, echo responses....all these are great for getting the attention of your class. I love call backs, these are some that I use. And may I add I've used them with summer camps, infants, 4th class and 6th class! 


5. Musical Chairs
Don't feel you are a meany for assigning seats. Each to their own, but I would never underestimate a good seating plan. Think of the chatterboxes, think of peer tutoring, think of your sanity. Assign seats. It's a good way of encouraging friendship, reducing 'clicky groups' and keeping an eye on those who need it. But who is to say they have to be stuck to the same seats all day every day? I like to have different work stations and areas, particularly for English and Maths. Have a floor space you can use, maybe an area for small group work, an early finisher station, if you've the space maybe even a creative area! It's all about the flexible seating these days. One of my rewards last year was to swap their chair for the yoga ball or the beanbags. They loved it!

6. I'm done!
It's guaranteed. Every day. Someone will always have their hand in the air to announce "I'm done!" and it will always be just as you are about to take a minute to organise yourself for something coming up in the next lesson or work one to one with another child. Plan for this. Have a station for early finishers or a list of things that they can do. It's ghastly and not one of my fashion favourites but my busy hat works a treat! "When teacher's busy hat you see, interrupt just for an emergency!"
Fashion at it's finest!

7. Expect the best.
Set high expectations for your class. Obviously keep them appropriate but they all deserve to be challenged. Misbehaviour can often arise simply from children being bored or understimulated. Simple but true.

8. You are not alone.
If you don't ask you'll never know. Every day is a learning experience in our job and that's partly why it's exciting. You could have the perfect day planned and all it takes is one hiccup to knock that plan out of sync. If you need help or advice, just ask. Ask a colleague, ask the principal. Don't flounder. Every school should have a mentor to support you through your first years of teaching.

9. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
Don't wing it. Plan. It's essential. Don't short change your students. You don't need to get bogged down in plans to be planning well. Keep them concise and clear. Stay on top of them. If you're running off some one elses plans, don't just copy and paste, adapt them to suit you. Otherwise your plans are pointless. Draw out a quick plan for everyday, and tick off what you get through. See for guidelines.

10. Top Drawer Supplies.
Now this is a personal favourite but do not underestimate the power of your top drawer. No, no it's not just for stickers and staples. In mine you will find....babywipes, spare socks and pants (for the infants, not me!!), a roll of plastic bags (for the accidents...and this can happen in ANY room), plastic gloves, safety pins, tissues, hand sanitizer, chocolate (for me, because let's face it, there will be days when nothing else will suffice!), paracetamol (for when the chocolate isn't enough). It's basically everything but the kitchen sink, but all essential in my eyes!! Also, I also like to keep a packet of crackers or little boxes of'd be surprised at how many of your student's come to school with empty tummies and a little breakfast could turn their day (and mood) right around.

11. Take Pictures.
Document your work. If you did a nice display or experiment, take a photo. I try to take a good few photos every week because it's nice to the review the week with your class on a Friday. It's a nice form of self assessment and a good discussion/explanation opportunity. 

12. Parent Patrol.
Don't be afraid to get to know your parents. Remember their putting a lot of trust in you to look after their child so put their minds at ease! If your children are collected from the  door, why not have a parent's board? I put up a quick note every day to give the parents a rough idea of what we were doing all day. If you've taken a picture of someone doing a nice activity, send it home! Invite them in, if you have a HSCL teacher perhaps you could invite them in for Maths for fun or Art & Crafts?

13. Kindness is key.
Remember, our job is a wonderful one. We take a lot of bashing for our 'cushy job' and our 'endless holidays' but if only they knew! It's a fantastic career, but in no way easy! We get the opportunity to help shape and mould the lives and education of so many tiny humans! But at the end of the day you sometimes have to step back and think, maybe today Handwriting, Maths, Irish and Geography isn't what this child needs. Would a listening ear, a conversation, a compliment, a smile go further? Sometimes it's important to stray from the plan. Kindness is key.

Hope this helps with some of your queries, PM me if you've anything else you'd like advice or info on!

Oh also, I came across this Classroom Set Up Resource Pack on Twinkl specifically for ROI teachers!!

Now, I think it's back to relaxing for me. Celebrity Big Brother starts tonight, so that's me sorted for this rainy evening in Donegal!

Over & out,



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