5 Tips for First Year Teachers

Dear first year teacher,

Welcome to the world of teaching. You most likely have just come from the whirlwind of student teaching. You think that was hard? You are now completely responsible for twenty something little humans. I want to remind you, YOU CAN DO THIS. You have been prepared for this. Unfortunately no amount of classes, practicums, or training can truly prepare you for taking on your own classroom. It just can’t. You can compare to your student teaching, you can hear ideas from co-workers-people will be so eager to tell you the right way to do something. Let me tell you a secret: there isn’t really a RIGHT way to do something. Of course, there definitely are wrong ways. But as long as you navigate away from the wrong, it is up to you how to find your groove of what the right way is.

As you step into your classroom for the first time and brainstorm how to make it your own, it will be completely overwhelming. Your mind will start to race and your heartbeat will follow suit. If the tears struggle for an exit, let them come.  You look around and you see a drab classroom and it seems impossible to imagine anything could come out of it, that children could learn in such a place.

You eagerly look up blogs on how cute your classroom could be. You pursue Pinterest, search the Dollar Store, tear apart Target, “wish list” everything on Teachers Pay Teachers. All of that is wonderful, and there are some amazing ideas out there, thanks to the wonderful people who take the time to post their talents on the internet.

But I want to remind you to slow down. It is SO easy to compare yourself to what others have thought of, and suddenly you think it MUST be that way. It doesn’t have to be. Take ideas from other teachers and make those things into your own. Don’t make the mistake thinking you can’t be original, or you can’t put your own spin on things.

I recommend living by the rule: simplify. Teaching is hard enough work. KEEP IT SIMPLE. By “it”, I mean the parts of teaching you can control.

Here is a list of important things to think and expound upon as you prepare for your first year teaching. (Each section I will go more into detail in future posts).

1. Have a behavior management plan

This is number one because without it your classroom is more susceptible to frustration and possibly failure. Your school may have a school wide behavior management plan, or you may need to make one yourself. In my school we use PBIS as our school wide behavior management system. You can learn more about PBIS here. On top of the school wide behavior system, it is so important to have a classroom behavior plan. If it corresponds with your school, great. Just remember it needs to be something that will work for you. I am a simple person, I get overwhelmed easily. I need simplicity or honestly I forget to do it. I use a clip chart in my classroom, but I made it a miniature one (inspired by this lady). I did this for two reasons:

a. The big clip chart created a problem my first year teaching. It was humiliating for students when they moved their clips down. I watched them crumble when they were told to move their clip down and all of their peers watched. It didn’t matter that I praised them after and they moved it up quickly. They were embarrassed.

b. The other reason I use a miniature clip chart is for the size! It is portable. I take it with me to assemblies, I carry it while I am walking around the classroom, or walking students throughout the school.

On the clip chart I have miniature clothespins, you can find those at Walmart in the craft section. They break once in a while, so get enough for replacements.

I assign each of my students a number at the beginning of the year for privacy on the clip chart and their cubbies. You can get a copy of the clip chart from my TPT store here. It is editable, so you can fill in each color however you want

2. Simply organize

I am the worst at organizing! I’ve always thought: Wow, I am really good at organizing my clutter! This is where simply organizing comes in. (Now if you are a great organizer PLEASE comment below and help me and others with your brilliant ideas!) For me, I have to organize my classroom in a simple and easy to access manner.

Pick a system and stick to it! That’s always been my biggest problem. I’ll create a space for math tests passed back and then I won’t put them in that space.

I also started to organize my materials by subject. My filing cabinet is by subject. My shelves of manipulatives are by subject. This is helpful for the last minute lesson idea, for kids to grab a center and go, etc.

3. Get to know your curriculum. Don’t be overwhelmed by planning for the entire year. Just get to know the lessons you will be teaching for a week, two weeks at the max. It’s hard to plan farther than two weeks when unplanned assemblies pop up, fire drills happen, and students have off days. It’s important to have flexibility in your planning.

4. Ask for help. When I graduated college I was reminded of the phrase some teachers live by: “beg, borrow, and steal”. Beg other teachers for copies and lesson ideas, borrow ideas and make them into your own, and steal ideas you may see and want to replicate. Although always give credit where it is due! My first grade team has helped me beyond anything I could have done on my own. You don’t have to be on your own.

5. It’s ok to say NO. After my first year teaching I learned to be strong willed. I now have no problem standing up for myself when I feel overwhelmed. The beginning of the year will come and go and it is so easy to take on too much. If you are prone to anxiety, like myself, it is important to know your breaking point. There will be faculty expectations, extra meetings, parents pressuring you, social media ideas pressuring you, PTA expectations, and the list goes on and on. Just say no. Be respectful, volunteer when you can. But it does not make you a bad person to stand up for yourself and take care of YOU. Your students will pick up on your attitude each day, don’t bring them down because you took on too much and didn’t make them your priority.

I plan on more in depth posts on these 5 topics in the future. Hopefully these help for those of you venturing in to the wonderful career of teaching! Rely on your teaching peers, we are here to help each other, not one up each other.

And there is always room for humor:

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Pre-K Sight Word Products

Here are Pre-K sight word activity products for PayPal download!  Please be sure to read the Terms and Conditions at the bottom of the post. They are also included in every download.

 

Terms of Use for Reading Noodle Downloadable Products:

All Reading Noodle products are the property of Karla Carlston, owner of Reading Noodle, LLC. Therefore, all products you download are for your personal use in your home or in your classroom. Products are NOT for resale. They cannot be shared via copy or link with others. You are more than welcome to share this product page with others who are interested in the product and encourage them to pay for their own copy of the products they like! Thank you for supporting me on this adventure!

Early Elementary Sight Word Products

These products are all great choices if you want specific sight word practice. I would suggest starting with the Sight Word Hunt because it contains all of the sight words in one packet. Then choosing the activity will have a variety of sight words in each activity.

 

Terms of Use for Reading Noodle Downloadable Products:

All Reading Noodle products are the property of Karla Carlston, owner of Reading Noodle, LLC. Therefore, all products you download are for your personal use in your home or in your classroom. Products are NOT for resale. They cannot be shared via copy or link with others. You are more than welcome to share this product page with others who are interested in the product and encourage them to pay for their own copy of the products they like! Thank you for supporting me on this adventure!

Early Elementary Sound/Spelling Cards

 

Terms of Use for Reading Noodle Downloadable Products:

All Reading Noodle products are the property of Karla Carlston, owner of Reading Noodle, LLC. Therefore, all products you download are for your personal use in your home or in your classroom. Products are NOT for resale. They cannot be shared via copy or link with others. You are more than welcome to share this product page with others who are interested in the product and encourage them to pay for their own copy of the products they like! Thank you for supporting me on this adventure!

Early Elementary Activities by Month

This page is a basically the subscription box minus the sight words. It follow the month and week of the subscription box, it’s just on your to print and use the materials as you want. Please see the Terms of Use at the bottom of the page to know how to properly use materials once you purchase. Enjoy!

Month 1

Week 1: Short A

Week 2: Short I

Week 3: Short O

Week 4: Short E

 

Month 2

Week 1: Short U

Week 2: CVC Review

Week 3: Blends

Week 4: -ed endings

 

Month 3

Week 1: ng and nk

Week 2: Digraphs

Week 3: Bossy R’s

Week 4: a_e

 

Month 4

Week 1: i_e

Week 2: Soft/Hard G & C

Week 3 & 4: CVCe Review

 

Month 5

Week 1: Long A

Week 2: Long I

Week 3: Long O

Week 4: Long E

 

Month 6

Week 1: Long U

Week 2: OO Sounds

Week 3: Ow Sounds

Week 4: Oi Sounds

 

Month 7

Week 1: Aw Sounds

Week 2: Silent Beginning Sounds

Week 3: 3 Letter Blends

Week 4: Air Sounds

 

Terms of Use for Reading Noodle Downloadable Products:

All Reading Noodle products are the property of Karla Carlston, owner of Reading Noodle, LLC. Therefore, all products you download are for your personal use in your home or in your classroom. Products are NOT for resale. They cannot be shared via copy or link with others. You are more than welcome to share this product page with others who are interested in the product and encourage them to pay for their own copy of the products they like! Thank you for supporting me on this adventure!

Pre-K Letter Packets

These packets focus exclusively on activities pertaining to each letter of the alphabet. Each packet comes with 2-3 activities to practice the letter and the sound associated with the letter. This is a great tool if you are just wanting to focus solely on the letters and their sounds. Instructions are included with each activity packet. Please refer to the Terms of Use below to know how to properly use materials once purchased.

 

Terms of Use for Reading Noodle Downloadable Products:

All Reading Noodle products are the property of Karla Carlston, owner of Reading Noodle, LLC. Therefore, all products you download are for your personal use in your home or in your classroom. Products are NOT for resale. They cannot be shared via copy or link with others. You are more than welcome to share this product page with others who are interested in the product and encourage them to pay for their own copy of the products they like! Thank you for supporting me on this adventure!

Pre-K Bundle Packets

Pre-K Bundle Packet follows the Pre-K subscription in terms of the sounds learned each month, minus the sight words and some other activities. Each monthly packet covers 3-4 letters and their sounds AND also includes review activities for each month to review sounds just learned.

This is a good choice if you are more interested in following the order things are learned in the subscription.

The other activities can be found in the Word Builder bundle and the ABC road letter bundle. You can also sign up for my email list to get FREE Pre-K Products on occasion. Please refer to the Terms of Use at the bottom of the page for how to use these products once purchased.

 

Terms of Use for Reading Noodle Downloadable Products:

All Reading Noodle products are the property of Karla Carlston, owner of Reading Noodle, LLC. Therefore, all products you download are for your personal use in your home or in your classroom. Products are NOT for resale. They cannot be shared via copy or link with others. You are more than welcome to share this product page with others who are interested in the product and encourage them to pay for their own copy of the products they like! Thank you for supporting me on this adventure!

Early Elementary Bundle Packets

Bundle Packets are made up of activity packets combined with their fluency packets. They will come in the same email, just separate PDFs.

This is a good choice if you want to practice a specific sound with activities AND fluency practice. It also follows the order of the subscription box minus the sight words. Although sight words are included in each fluency packet.

Packet 1: Short A

Packet 2: Short I

Packet 3: Short O

Packet 4: Short E

Packet 5: Short U

Packet 6: Blends 

Packet 7: -ed Endings 

Packet 8: -ng and -nk 

Packet 9: Digraphs

Packet 10: Bossy R’s 

Packet 11: a_e

Packet 12: i_e 

Packet 13: Soft/Hard C & G

Packet 14: CVCe Review

Packet 15: Long A

Packet 16: Long I

Packet 17: Long O

Packet 18: Long E 

Packet 19: Long U

Packet 20: OO Sounds

Packet 21: OW Sounds

Packet 22: OI Sounds

Packet 23: AW Sounds

Packet 24: Silent Letters 

Packet 25: 3 Letter Blends

Packet 26: AIR Sounds 

 

Terms of Use for Reading Noodle Downloadable Products:

All Reading Noodle products are the property of Karla Carlston, owner of Reading Noodle, LLC. Therefore, all products you download are for your personal use in your home or in your classroom. Products are NOT for resale. They cannot be shared via copy or link with others. You are more than welcome to share this product page with others who are interested in the product and encourage them to pay for their own copy of the products they like! Thank you for supporting me on this adventure!

Early Elementary Fluency Packets

This section will have fluency packets specific to one sound/spelling pattern. The packets will come with a fluency passage, fluency strips, and some of them have an extra timed fluency activity as well! This is a great buy if you are purely wanting to focus on fluency.

Month 1

Weel 1: Short A

Week 2: Short I

Week 3: Short O

Week 4: Short E

Month 2

Week 1: Short U

Week 2: CVC Review Week so no specific fluency packet. Practice all short vowel fluency packets (see this page for combination packets)

Week 3:

Week 4:

Month 3

Week 1: ng and nk

Week 2: Digraphs

Week 3: Bossy R’s

 

Week 4: a_e

Month 4

Week 1: i_e

Week 2: Soft/Hard G&C

Week 3&4: CVCe Review

This is a combined week. Between the activities and the fluency packet it can easily be spread over 2 weeks, plus reviewing a_e and i_e will also help really bring home that CVCe (Consonant Vowel Consonant with an e on the end) concept.

 

Month 5

Week 1: Long A

Week 2: Long I

Week 3: Long O

Week 4: Long E

 

Month 6

Week 1: Long U

Week 2: OO Sounds

Week 3: Ow Sounds

Week 4: Oi Sounds

Month 7

Week 1: Aw Sounds

Week 2: Silent Letters

Week 3: 3 Letter Blends

Week 4: Air Sounds

 

Terms of Use for Reading Noodle Downloadable Products:

All Reading Noodle products are the property of Karla Carlston, owner of Reading Noodle, LLC. Therefore, all products you download are for your personal use in your home or in your classroom. Products are NOT for resale. They cannot be shared via copy or link with others. You are more than welcome to share this product page with others who are interested in the product and encourage them to pay for their own copy of the products they like! Thank you for supporting me on this adventure!

The 3rd Component of Teaching Reading: Sound/Spelling Cards

Sound/Spelling Cards are a small but really important component of teaching reading! Slide1

They are a great visual to show exactly what you are teaching that week. If you have space in your house where you can put them up, at least for the week you are working on it, please do so! Put it in a place where your child can see it often so it stays fresh in their memory.

The card example above comes in the almost every pack of the Early Elementary Box.

It is a great opportunity to teach your children how to use reference tools. Sound spelling cards are reference materials in case they forget a sound, or need help spelling a word. This gives them the opportunity to look at the card and identify what spelling they are going to use, or decode a word they are stuck on. In my classroom we would have the cards up all year and would pull the particular sound card down and hang in on the whiteboard for easy reference when we were learning that sound/spelling pattern. I loved seeing my students look at the card when we did a writing activity or took a spelling test. It proved to me how valuable these reference cards were.

Here is a free printable that you can use when teaching the letters. Even just to put up somewhere in your home so kiddos can see it and start remembering that letters have sounds.

ABC Board.png

ABC BOARD PDF

I also have the sound/spelling cards available for purchase as a packet below!