How To Survive Your First Five Years of Teaching
(Adapted from Convocation 2003, presented by Epsilon Alpha Chapter, Towson University)


1. Leave your school troubles at school and your personal problems at home. You have to realize that the people in both parts of your life need your 100%. If you don't give yourself a break, you and the people around you are not getting what they deserve.

2. Have a hobby/participate in a non-school activity. Yes it is true: teachers should not eat, breathe, and live school. It is great to enjoy your work and do it well but make sure to enjoy your family and yourself as well.

3. Keep organized! We can not stress this enough. If you do not keep organized, there will come a day when you need all of the permission slips for the field trip or all of your written observations for an IEP meeting. Losing items doesn't help you or your sanity.

4. Be flexible. Teachers are not 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. workers who know exactly what is going to happen each day. Your school may schedule a special assembly or your guest speaker may not show. Don't stress out! Just take a breath and go to Plan B.

5. Time management. Make sure that when you are able to multi-task, you do. Some teachers wonder where the time goes during their planning periods. Try to set goals and follow them through.

6. Plan ahead. It is always important to think ahead. Long-range planning tends to keep your lessons organized and clear. It also allows you time to create wonderful activities without the stress.

7. Be prepared. Set up everything needed for the next day. Some of the most stressful times in teaching are when you realize you're suppose to have some sort of lesson materials such as 21 bags of ten pennies, five nickels, and three dimes by 9:30 that morning. Ahh! Always be prepared because you never know when the Xerox machine may crash.

8. Set time deadlines: how long to stay after school, when to arrive in the morning, etc. Like most jobs, work doesn't end. Save yourself some sanity and get some sleep in between.

9. Get to know the people at your school (not only teachers, but support staff and other faculty). It will make your working atmosphere much more enjoyable and you may also get some great benefits (i.e.: your room cleaned extra well, the secretary telling a parent that your lunch break is not the time to drop in for a conference).

10. Make sure that you keep non-instructional time (lunch, for example) as non-instructional. Everyone needs time to breathe and relax.

11. Take advantage of professional growth opportunities. They look good on your resume and they truly help enrich your classroom. You don't have to constantly look for good teaching ideas, they can be right in front of your nose!

12. LAUGH! Find a way to keep the fun alive even in a stressful situation. First breathe and settle down, then laugh. Don't worry about the little things. Finding humor  in bad situations always helps.

13. Take care of yourself. Eat right, exercise, take your vitamins, and get enough sleep.

14. Pick your battles. Sometimes the best thing to do is just let things go.

15. Make "to do" lists. These keep you organized and make you feel like you are achieving some sort of positive progress even when you feel like you are at a stand still.