I wish I had a time machine that I could go back in time to Jan 1993. Fresh out of college and all set with my binders of lesson plans from college, and a dozen or so already made bulletin boards. I stepped into that classroom mid-year for the first time, adjusted my rose colored glasses, and vowed to change the world one child at a time.
Now, 22 years later, I wish I could go back and have some straight talk with myself. Here is what I would say...
Hey there self! A bit of advice for you...
1. Stop worrying about the paperwork, the bulletin boards, the lesson plans, the grades, and focus on the kids. This job is 1000% about building relationships and making connections. You will change the world one kid at a time, by making a difference to the one kid.
2. Smile and have fun with yourself. Don't be serious all the time. Kids like to be around grown ups that smile. They like to see people laugh, and THEY like to laugh. So do it once in a while.
3. Reach out to parents right away. It seems awkward and trivial to call or write that first week since they are strangers. But do it. RELATIONSHIPS!!! Not just with kids, but parents too. They have entrusted you with their greatest possession for more waking hours than they have them. (even if they dont always treat them that way) Feel honored. It is a privilege.
4. OMGOSH! Make a mistake. In front of your kids. They like to see that you are human. (Not a big mistake that can get you fired or anything, you want to still be there to make the difference)
5. It is okay to set strict and firm boundaries that stay consistent. Kids like things they can count on. And by golly, they want rules. Even if they don't act like it. So start strong. Be firm. YOU WILL appreciate it in April and May when other teachers are dealing with out of control classes. :)
Good luck newbie! I will see you again in 22 years. 2015....so far away.