10 things I want all new teachers to know

This year I am working closely with our BTAP (beginning teacher assistance program) to help plan and develop some beginning of the year trainings. For the record, our BTAP committee has been doing a wonderful job over the years, however like anything, we are always looking to improve and do it better each year.

This year we have 22 brand new never taught still don’t know what I’m doing teachers in our district. Now, I’m not sure about you and your district, but from where I come from that is a lot of new teachers! Consequently, we want and NEED to have a strong new teacher program to help with this transition. As many are aware, almost 50% of new teachers exit the profession by their 5th year. This number makes me a little uncomfortable, so anything I can do to help with new teachers is the least I can do!

So here is my list of what I want all new teachers to know:


1) – It’s Ok to look and feel like this. If being scared wasn’t supposed to happen from time to time, then we wouldn’t be human. Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know and aren’t sure about. Take everything in stride and accept that you are going to make mistakes. The key is making sure you learn from those mistakes.

2) – Find time during your off period to go observe other classrooms in your building. Even if the content and/or age group are different, there is still a lot you can learn via simple observation. If possible, see if that teacher would be willing to sit and talk with you about what you saw in their classroom. Even better, invite them to observe your classroom and get feedback/input on what they saw in your classroom.

3) – Focus on building relationships with your students from day one. Don’t worry about your content at first, you most likely just spent the last four years of your life learning about it. Spend the first few weeks learning about the lives of the students you have in front of you. The more you learn about your students the more they will learn about your content.

4) – Don’t worry about discipline and punishing kids; worry about how to provide strong instruction and an engaging classroom environment. This is basically being proactive rather than reactive. A classroom that is engaging with strong instructional practices is a classroom with few discipline problems.

5) – Learn the names and show the utmost respect to every administrative assistant, custodial/maintenance and food service employee in your building. They will help you more than you could ever imagine… trust me on this.

6) – Don’t be afraid to speak up and share an idea. You most likely weren’t hired because you were the worst candidate, so at some point in time somebody saw something great about you. You bring a new perspective and a fresh set of lenses to the table, so be sure to share your thoughts and insights in a collaborative and collegial manner.

7) – Don’t try to do everything on your own. Don’t simply shut your door and teach. Work with those who have more experience and know the system. Find a few people whom you can trust, and lean on them.

8) – Be careful of the teacher’s lounge and watch out for ‘that group.’ The teacher’s lounge can be the type of environment that just beats you down and makes you feel like the world is a terrible place. This is not always the case, but be aware that these black holes do exist from time to time. Also, every school has ‘the group.’ You might not notice the group at first because they are always looking for new members (specifically new teachers). Try to avoid this group at all costs.

9) – Having fun on the weekends is all good and is frankly healthy, but be sure to keep your image clean and professional. More employees get in trouble for the silly and not so smart things they do online than for most other reasons. Be safe and have a healthy career/life balance, but don’t feel the need to take a picture of every second and then share those pictures with the world.

10) – Get connected and follow the #ntchat hashtag. There is whole world full of resources and information out there, so don’t feel limited to just the colleagues in your hallway, in your school and in your district. Reach out and take control of your own learning and development.

What would you add to this list?


Justin Tarte blogs at justintarte.com and is active on Twitter @justintarte.


  1. Dear Justin,
    I just love this! It really gives some great advice to new teachers. Thank you so much for sharing it!
    Kindest regards,
    Deborah G. Mallett, CEO, Consultant
    Mallett & Company, ECS

    August 8, 2013
  2. Williams, Jabulo - wiele said:

    Very insightful and great food for thought for the new entrants to the teaching profession, Justin.
    Hope would bes’ will have access to this piece.
    Vice Principal

    August 8, 2013
  3. Betty said:

    If a lesson does not work as planned, admit it to your students and tell them that you have to figure out a few things to make it better. Tell them that they will learn the lesson tomorrow. Admitting when something doesn’t go right helps you feel less stress to be “perfect” and allows students to see that it is ok to make mistakes. Always have a “plan B” if the lesson doesn’t go well. Read a story, play a game, or take a stretching break. You will feel less stressed and will be able to move on to the next task at hand. ALWAYS BELIEVE in YOURSELF.:)
    Betty, Retired Teacher, 32 years:))

    August 8, 2013
  4. Ana Maria Castro Villacorta said:

    Conocer a los alumnos es muy importante, por ello escucharlos interesarse por sus inquietudes es importante, para comprendedlos y saber como tratarlos porque cada uno es único.
    Atreverse a innovar es importante, conocí una profesora de Historia que les permitía relatar la batalla de Angamos a través de cómics y ellos estaban encantados.

    August 9, 2013
  5. Thank you for this great list and resource. My Instructional Leadership Team and I will be using this to help guide our 6 new teachers this year.

    August 9, 2013
  6. Jeanie Greenidge said:

    Love this list – don’t be afraid to be an advocate for your students. It may not make you popular but it will keep you sane and advocacy can be contagious with your colleagues. Lots of teachers will want to talk about what their students lack, what their school’s lack, – see if you can’t begin to turn that conversation around. It will keep you positive and improve your teaching, I think. Teaching is a great calling. It is just the best.

    August 10, 2013
  7. Tanya Armstrong said:

    These are some great things to tell our new teachers. I remember sitting in on an experienced teachers class as a new teacher some 20 or so years ago. It was a great experience and helped me tremendously. I hope to use this list with our new teachers.

    Thank you so much.
    Tanya (Assistant Principal)

    August 14, 2013
  8. […] This year I am working closely with our BTAP (beginning teacher assistance program) to help plan and develop some beginning of the year trainings. For the record, our BTAP committee has been doing …  […]

    August 19, 2013
  9. Patricia Hengel said:

    Nicely stated Justin! This is a wonderful list that I will share my Education Students following completion of their 2nd round Field Experiences. I will also include the importance of advocating for their students and that it’s ok to abandon a lesson…thanks Jeanie and Betty. To further Betty’s thoughts, I think they need to know that making mistakes will happen and that it is a healthy part of the learning process that they can share with their children. Rather than being embarrassed if it happens in front of students, set up an environment where students know you expect them to help you find mistakes in your work so you are all learning and taking risks together.

    August 26, 2013
    • Paul Obah said:

      Nicely put Patricia. I like that lines on setting up an environment where students know thet can help one review his lessons. That works so well for people who apply it. It helps to get the students to see they have a role to play in setting the quality of a class.

      September 14, 2013
  10. Paul Obah said:

    I have found that the teacher who acts as if he knows it all often gets the students anxious to trip him and they often succeed! I believe every new teacher – and the not so new ones, should set out to show the students that he is as much a learner in that class as his students are. This helps to get one into the learner’s world and works best for those dealing with teens. It is magic for showing your students that you are human too!

    September 14, 2013
  11. Paul Obah said:

    and I should add that this is great stuff Justin.

    September 14, 2013
  12. Raymond Robinson said:

    In addition to Patricia’s comment, I would like to add by telling students you make mistakes it frees them up to try harder and not be afraid of failing. I tell mines that I make mistakes everyday and twice as much on Sundays! The only people who do not make mistakes are the ones who are dead or not doing anything!

    October 9, 2013

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