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Print out less, use your computer more. I find keeping track of paper really difficult so I try to print out only what is necessary. After moving last year I have really learnt that keeping piles of paper is a waste, I never refer to it. I always go back to my computer. Keep organised files on your computer and keep this year's main file, e.g. '2014' on your desktop. Put previous and unused files into one big folder, I call mine 'school', incase you need to find something quickly.
The big one is get to know your students! Spend time each day talking to your kiddos and try especially hard to befriend "that" kid- if they like you they are more likely to listen to you. Be consistent & make sure you use & know your school's behaviour policy. If they don't have one (they really, really should) speak to your Principal/Leadership about their expectations and what will happen if you have a really extreme student.
Don't use excuses when it comes to extra-curricular activities. They are put on by your school and yes most times you are expected to go. There is no better way to annoy the people you work with than being the person who always has an excuse card. Being at the extra stuff (graduation dinners, picnics, award nights, information sessions) is great way to get to know your parents and it is an easy way to show that you care about the school and their kids.
Tip for Time Management
I used to be terrible with this when I first started but it is now one of my strengths. Using visual timers and visual timetables is the best way to keep track of the time. It also helps your students be accountable for the daily plan and they will help you keep track if you forget about something.
This can be summed up with Story Telling & Be Interested!
Find a hook and use it in a fun way. The best teacher I ever had at primary school used to wear odd socks every day and tell stories about how the lights went out and he couldn't see in the dark. I tell stories about my cat Axel (some real and some fake). Every child I have taught, even the big 16 year olds I ran into before Christmas remember my cat.
If you get time, showing up to one weekend soccer match, dance recital or football game will make a big difference.
Listen and Inform. Talk to your parents about their child and take the time to listen to their stories. Get to know all the members in the family and call them by name. Sometimes no matter what you do you will get angry parents from time to time. Just remember that people only ever explode at others when they are up to their eye balls in stress. I can guarantee if a parent comes in yelling, something else is wrong that they aren't telling you about, for example, a marriage break down, a sick parent, a bad week at work. Keep it in perspective and keep the lines of communication open.
Having different work clothes and fun clothes helps with my mind set. If I have had a bad day at work I don't want to have had it in my favourite dress or it will ruin it forever (is that weird?).
I am not a dress shirt and black pants kind of person. No matter how hard I try to wear that stuff I just don't feel comfortable. I wear a lot of dresses or patterned pants, and try to never wear anything too low cut. Lean over looking in a mirror ladies before leaving for work to check for boobage :) Check with your school about their dress policy- most schools don't like jeans. I always try to add weird, colourful jewellery to have a talking point with my kids like my dice earrings or apple core necklace.
My iPhone is a lifesaver because I google everything before I buy expensive items. I visit all my local cheap shops and check online for other cheap stuff like stationary. For Australian websites I use ozsale and brands exclusive for spot sales on stationary or furniture, booktopia, fishpond or book depository for books.
During the holidays I try to cook a few meals in bulk and keep them in the freezer. I keep things that are quick to put together like couscous, tins of tuna, instant soup in the pantry as well as a few microwave meals for when all else fails.
Tip for Staying Sane
In my first year of teaching I went to an amazing PD where the speaker referred to "Bricks in the Wall". Basically make sure you balance your wall (your life) with different 'bricks'. If your life is made up of all work bricks and work sucks then your wall will fall down, same with family or friends, etc. She spoke about needing routine and keeping things that keep you happy, it could be as simple as reading the Sunday paper (if my husband doesn't have an hour to read the paper on a Saturday all heck could break loose). My big ones are a Body Balance class (it's a mix of yoga, tai chi and pilates) on both a Saturday and Sunday, walking regularly, laughing!, time to read and have a cup of tea.
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