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When Your First Year Teaching is Harder Than You Thought It’d Be

Have you found teaching to be more challenging than you thought it would be?

I remember how much I anticipated my first year of teaching. I was so excited and I could hardly wait to begin. I imagined how much I would love teaching, how incredible it would be to  help and influence students, and how awesome it would be to run my own classroom.

But that first year just didn’t turn out to be as amazing as I had dreamed it would be. (You can read more about that experience here.) In fact, sometimes it felt more like a nightmare.When Your First Year of Teaching is Harder Than You Thought It'd Be. (View Post)

Now of course I would never have admitted this to anyone – I didn’t even want to admit it to myself. This had been my dream for as long as I could remember. I really did love what I was doing, right? [Insert pep talk to self]

Yes, my first year was tough. But if you’re like me and you’re feeling frustrated or discouraged, there’s one very important truth you need to know:

It’s normal to have a tough first year.

Let that sink in. You are not a failure of a teacher. You did not choose the wrong profession. What you’re experiencing is normal and part of the growth process.

Learning to be a teacher is a extremely challenging, and no matter how well prepared you are, there’s always going to be a learning curve the first year or two. It just means you have a lot to learn. All good teachers went through this challenge and grew through it. You can do the same thing.

The key, though, is to learn and grow. Don’t give excuses (The kids just don’t listen to me. I didn’t have enough training. I don’t have enough support, etc.). Instead, take personal responsibility for your classroom and determine to 1) learn from your mistakes and 2) seek out as much advice as possible.

If you keep working, learning, and growing, it won’t be too long before you find yourself teaching in your dream classroom.

Because of my own challenges, I want to help other teachers conquer the learning curve as quickly as possible and become the teachers they dreamed they could be. That’s why I wrote the e-book Create Your Dream Classroom. Originally designed to be read over the summer, it’s now been revised and expanded to help you right where you are now – whether it’s the summer or  the middle of the school year.Create Your Dream Classroom, the perfect book for Christian teachers


So if you’re struggling, frustrated, or discouraged, pick up a copy today. I want it to be affordable, so it’s only $4.99.

The e-book contains 50 short lessons so that you can just read one at a time as you get a chance. Here’s what’s covered in each lesson:

Lesson 1: Imagine Your Dream Classroom: Before you can improve, you have to know what you want to improve. We discuss how to think big and imagine your dream classroom.

Lesson 2: Changing Mid Year: We discuss the benefits and challenge of making changes to your classroom mid year.

Lesson 3: Reflection: A guided reflection on what’s going well and what isn’t

Lesson 4: Worldview: Thinking biblically is not only important for us as teachers but also an important skill to teach our students and parents.

Lesson 5: Whack a Mole? How to appropriately handle the first discipline problem as you implement new policies.

Lesson 6: What’s in a Name?  This selection discusses the one tip that took me from a frazzled teacher with an out-of-control classroom to a calm, happy teacher residing over students who were orderly and on-task. (Okay, I couldn’t resist sharing this important tip for free on my blog. You can read about it here.)

Lesson 7: When Frustrations Abound: How to keep your cool and be kind when you’re about to lose your temper

Lesson 8: Seek First to Understand: We examine Stephen Covey’s principle, seek first to understand then to be understood.

Lesson 9: Don’t Charge a Gray Hill: What to do when a situation is unclear

Lesson 10: Iron Sharpens Iron: The importance of actively seeking great friends and mentors. Read an excerpt.

Lesson 11: Where’s the Line? How to be professional without being boring or uncaring

Lesson 12: What about Facebook?  We discuss the question of whether or not a teacher should accept students as Facebook friends. Speaking of Facebook, have you liked Create Your Dream Classroom‘s Facebook page?

Lesson 13: The Power of Prayer: A chance to pause and pray for your school and its administration

Lesson 14: If the Parent Asks: How to handle requests from parents without overextending yourself.

Lesson 15: Expect the Expected: Why routines and procedures are so important

Lesson 16 Practice Makes Perfect: How to effectively teach your new procedures to your students

Lesson 17: When the Bell Rings: How to start class without wasting time or yelling at your students

Lesson 18: Stuck Behind the Lectern: Great teachers move around the room; we discuss how and why.

Lesson 19: The Last Page: You can reach that elusive last page of your curriculum. We’ll tell you how.

Lesson 20: Time Savers: Seven tips that will save you precious minutes each day.

Lesson 21: To Give or Not to Give: We discuss how much and what kind of homework is appropriate.

Lesson 22: Inspect What You Expect: Why we must inspect students’ work and how to do so without creating mountains of grading

Lesson 23: Grammar, Rhetoric, & Logic: We discuss how elementary must focus on the foundational skills while secondary students must learn how to think critically and articulate their views.

Lesson 24: The Order of Things: How to teach skills subjects most effectively

Lesson 25: One-on-One: Do you think you cannot give your students one-on-one attention? Think again…it’s actually pretty easy.

Lesson 26: Time Out: A moment to pause and reevaluate what you’ve learned and what challenges you still face.

Lesson 27: When Things Get Crazy: How to keep the right perspective in the midst of insane busyness.

Lesson 28: And the Participation Award Goes To: How to increase your students’ participation

Lesson 29: Come on Down: The benefits of having students work at the board and how to do this smoothly

Lesson 30: Can We Play a Game? A list of games that won’t waste your time

Lesson 31: Prayer Focus: Wisdom: A chance to pause and pray for wisdom as well as practical advice on praying for wisdom throughout the school year

Lesson 32: Stick with the Green Pen: Why lowering your expectations doesn’t work

Lesson 33: An Ounce of Prevention: Techniques to prevent discipline problems

Lesson 34: More than a Punishment: How to disciple the student’s heart in discipline. Read an excerpt.

Lesson 35: More than Sentences: How you can use discipline essays to be more effective than sentences

Lesson 36: The Power of Quiet: Why being quiet can be more powerful than yelling

Lesson 37:  Everyone Loves Rewards: A list of free or inexpensive rewards that you can easily give your students

Lesson 38: The Case for Mercy: We discuss why mercy must be part of a Christian classroom.

Lesson 39: First Came the Law: Cautions against giving mercy at the wrong times

Lesson 40: Little White Lies: Why we should teach our students to always speak the truth.

Lesson 41:  But, Why, and How Come? How to handle your students’ complaints and back-talking without shutting down genuine concerns

Lesson 42: Confidence: Confidence makes a huge difference. We discuss how to build your confidence if you’re lacking in this area.

Lesson 43: Bounced Checks: We discuss Stephen Covey’s analogy of emotional bank accounts and how this relates to classroom discipline.

Lesson 44: Prayer Focus: Students. An opportunity to pause and pray for your students

Lesson 45: Why We Teach: An encouragement to define your calling as a teacher

Lesson 46: Sleeping in the Closet: Tips for preventing and dealing with fatigue

Lesson 47: Keys to Communication: Communicating with parents can be quite a challenge, especially for young teachers. We’ll discuss tips and ideas to help you communicate effectively.

Lesson 48: Ready, Aim, Fire! An encouragement to set specific goals for the upcoming year

Lesson 49: Coast or Climb: A challenge to continue learning and a discussion of how you can implement writing to learn in you classroom.

Lesson 50: Not Just a Waste of Time: An encouragement to use social media to continue learning and a list of resources to get you started.

Back to School Power Pack: These lessons will give you the information you need to have your best start yet. In addition to reviewing some of the previous lessons, the power pack includes four additional lessons:

Lesson 51: Welcome to Class: How to create a class welcome sheet

Lesson 52: Day One: Be Organized: An in-depth discussion of how to plan the first day of school

Lesson 53: Day Two: Deal with the First Discipline Issue: How to effectively handle your first discipline issue of the year

Lesson 54: Please, No Déjà Vu! What to do if you’re planning big changes for your classroom but will have some of the same students again.

Appendix A: Calendar Course Plans: Step-by-step instructions on how to set up a calendar course plan so that you can finish your curriculum

Appendix B: Writing to Learn: Eleven ways to easily implement writing in your classroom

Appendix C: Discipline Essays: Sample essays that can be reproduced or adapted to fit your classroom

Appendix D: Sample Class Welcome Sheet and Discipline Plan

As you can see, this book contains lots of practical advice and discusses lessons I learned as a new teacher – some of which I learned the hard way. My goal is to keep new teachers from struggling along for years before they figure these things out; instead, I want to help them quickly conquer the learning curve. Veterans, don’t feel left out. There’s plenty in here for you, too – fresh ideas to help reinvigorate your classroom and also the chance to interact with and mentor new teachers.

You can download a copy of Create Your Dream Classroom today for just $4.99.

Will you also help me get the word out about this great resource? Share this resource with your friends and family who are teachers by clicking the social media buttons below.

What was/is your experience as a first year teacher? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

Photo Credit: Flickr user RLHyde

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