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The Teaching Profession: What New Teachers Must Know

Janelle Cox

When you first start out as a new teacher in the teaching profession, you think you are prepared for it all. Some of you may even go through the list in your head checking off everything that you have learned throughout college and student teaching. It’s an exciting time in your life, and everything that you have worked so hard for thus far is now going to be put to the test in the teaching profession. You know your educational philosophy, and you have your classroom management plan ready to go. You also are excited to try out one of those new apps that you have been hearing so much about that help connect teachers with parents. But, while all of these things are wonderful to know, there are a few more things that your college professors didn’t tell you about the teaching profession, and a few more things that you have yet to learn.

The thing about teaching is that you live and learn through trial and error. You may have some great days or some amazing lessons, then you may have some not so great days or awful lessons. Teaching is a profession of living and learning, and helping others. So, if you want to be an effective teacher, then you must know a few things first. These new teacher must-knows can be a lifesaver when you’re just starting out. Here’s what you need to know.

The Teaching Profession: Children Have a Very Short Attention Span

You’re probably thinking, “I already know that!” but what you thought was a short attention span is actually much shorter once you get into your own classroom. Simply put, young learners today have a short attention span and are used to being instantly gratified. This is most likely due to the overuse of television and technological devices. If you want to keep your students’ attention, then you will have to prepare brief lessons and activities, or use different types of audio-visual materials to them engaged.

You are NOT Your Students’ Friend

One of the challenges new teachers have is drawing the line between being a friend and teacher. Everyone wants to be liked (especially new teachers just starting out), but there needs to be some distance between teacher and student. If one of the goals on your list was to be known as the “Nice” teacher, you can still meet that goal, but you may have to have another word attached to it like “Tough” or “Strict.” It’s much more effective to be a “Nice-but-strict” teacher than just a “Nice” teacher. Keep in mind that if you start off too nice, then you may have an even harder time gaining respect or being tough later on in the school year.

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You Will Bring Your Work Home with You

Remember when you were in high school deciding upon a profession and the job “Teacher” was proposed as an option? You may have thought to yourself, “That’s an easy job with nights, weekends, and summers off.” Well as soon as you get your own classroom, those nights, weekends and summers start to intertwine with your regular work hours and days. You start reading more educational books, scouring the Internet for new lesson and activity ideas, and somehow get involved in social media groups that correlate with your educational interests. You must know that you will bring your work home with you at some point or another.

Not Every Student Knows How to Study

Teachers seldom train their students on how to study, mostly in part because they just assume that their students already know how to from the previous teacher. Unfortunately, for many of us, teaching study skills wasn’t on the list of topics that we learned in college. If you want your students to know how to pass your tests, then you must teach them how to study. Assign them study apps and review worksheets. Show them how to look for bold-faced words and how to read between the lines in their text. Practice note-taking skills, using graphic organizers, and using flashcards. Encourage students to scan chapter titles and to look for the main ideas of concepts. Remember, study skills are the key to academic achievement.

Bullying Can Happen in Your Classroom

Like it or not, there is a very good chance that you will encounter a bully in your classroom as some time or another. Even if your school is known as a “Bully-free zone,” you must know that it still may occur, and you have to be ready for it. How can you be ready? Know your school policies, take immediate action, and hold daily or weekly classroom meetings that identify what bullying is, what it looks like, and what can be done about it. Knowledge is power, and the more you know about the topic, the easier it will be for you to handle.

These are just a handful of new teacher must-knows. We haven’t even scratched the surface yet. As you begin your journey as a new teacher, you will encounter many more topics that you didn’t even know you needed to know.

Do you have any must-know tips for new teachers in the teaching profession? Please share them with us in the comment section below, we would love to hear what you have to say about this topic.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.