What Every First-Year Teacher Should Know

When you step into that high school mathematics classroom for the first time, and your major concern is classroom management (because let’s face it, it is), you fall back onto what’s comfortable – showing everyone within earshot how good you are at math. While this is a comfortable place for you, the first-year teacher, to be, it’s not very interesting for most of the students in your classroom. Here’s my short list of what every first-year teacher should know ( in no particular order):

  • Make sure that all of your students are engaged in some meaningful mathematics. Then you don’t have to worry as much about behaviors.
  • Getting students to do the math doesn’t mean that you’ve given up control of your classroom. In fact, it allows you the opportunity to observe and listen so that you can direct your class in a more meaningful way.
  • Having students work collaboratively to make sense of mathematics or to solve problems isn’t cheating. It’s giving them practice at working with others, a life skill that’s possibly more important than the content you’re trying to teach. Today’s students have to learn different skills than what you learned when you were in high school.
  • Assessment is more than written tests and quizzes. There are lots of opportunities for formative assessment – observing, listening, discussing. Summative assessments don’t always have to come at the end of a chapter. Assessments can be creative. Remember, they are opportunities for your students to show you what they know. They are not opportunities for you to say, “Gotcha.”
  • Listen to parents and students. You’ll be amazed at what they tell you if you ask.
  • Finally, and probably most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues for help or guidance. That’s what we’re here for.

Good luck! And let me know if I can help.


Filed under teaching

5 responses to “What Every First-Year Teacher Should Know

  1. Pingback: New (Math!) Bloggers « Megan Hayes-Golding

  2. Wow, excellent advice. I think even seasoned teachers in a new environment, like me, can use these tips. When I read your item on collaboration, I couldn’t help but think of whiteboarding. What a wonderful way to get students working together.

    • I often have groups white board. Sometimes we look at the white boards and compare the groups’ responses. Other times, it just so that I can see what the group is thinking in a simple, clear, and efficient way. White boards are a really great collaboration tool. Today, I had a class working some problems – I didn’t say “get a white board” but one group did anyway. Now that was awesome.

  3. Thanks for the ideas. I’m starting my fourth year but I found lots here to remind myself about.

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