It's Teacher Tidbit Tuesday, friends! Today's topic is all about our first year of teaching. I'm about to enter my 10th year of teaching, which is just crazy to think. I feel like my first year of having my own classroom was yesterday! 

So let's take a walk down memory lane, all the way back to 2009. I was fresh out of college and trying to find a job during the worst economic time since the Great Depression. There were hardly any teaching jobs available in my area, so I was terrified that I wouldn't be hired anywhere. Thankfully a teacher went on educational leave for a year and they hired me to take her place. She ended up not coming back to teach, so the job became a permanent position!

Here I am with my very first group of 1st graders. Look at my young 22 year old self! 

I was lucky enough (and still am!) to teach at my first choice school, which was the school I attended from kindergarten through 12th grade. I was even allowed to do my student teaching there, which I was thrilled about! What's even neater is that my student teaching class was in kindergarten and then I was hired as a first grade teacher the following year, so I had many of my kids from my student teaching days. This made my first few days of having my own class a little easier since I was familiar with some of my kids already. :) 
***These kids were also my first group of 5th graders when I switched from 1st grade to 5th grade, so I always called them my guinea pig group!

My kindergarten student teaching class. I made a voting booth so we could all vote for the new president of the United States since the 2008 election was during the fall semester of my internship. 

Reading to my student teaching class on Johnny Appleseed day. Look at those fun pan hats!

Decorating pumpkins with my student teaching class. 

My first year of teaching is honestly a blur. I just remember feeling so overwhelmed and confused and unknowledgeable about everything. I hope I'm not alone in thinking that college didn't prepare me for my first year of teaching. I had some great teachers at my university and I learned a lot, but nothing compared to the knowledge I learned after my first year of teaching. I mean, you can discuss behavior plans in a college class all day long, but until you actually have your own group of students that you are responsible for, you aren't going to figure out what works for you and your students. 

If you're a first year teacher, I'm sure you are scared to death and beyond nervous, but don't be! Take it from me, who becomes stressed over the simplest things, it's all going to be fine and it's all going to work out. And the things that don't work out? That's fine too! Let me share a few things that were fails for me during my first year teaching:

This was taken on my very first day of being an official teacher. I chose to wear my hair in a ponytail (something I despise!) because I knew just how exhausting the day was going to be and I wanted to be prepared and ready! See that stuffed elephant and monkey? I had the best idea (stolen from a college professor that I LOVED) to have class mascots that we would send to different places so we could get letters back and learn about different areas of our country. Kinda like Flat Stanley. I even let the kids name them. I will never forget Bella the monkey and Edward the elephant. Remember, it's 2009...Twilight was killing it at the box office! ;)

We decided to send our class mascots to the state capital so they could have their picture taken with the governor. We wrote letters, drew pictures, kissed them goodbye, packaged them in a box with a disposable camera, and sent them off on their great adventure while we eagerly awaited their return to see what goodies they brought back to us from Montgomery, AL.

And guess what? They never returned. My silly little naive self didn't think to actually contact anyone at the state capital. I just shipped it off, thinking someone would receive it and have nothing better to do than take pictures with a stuffed elephant and monkey and take the time to ship it back to us and pay for postage (remember, it was times weren't the best and I'm sure government employees were a bit short handed!)

My kids eventually forgot about poor Edward and Bella, but I learned a valuable lesson: fun little projects are great, but communication is key! Case in point: later that year, during Dr. Seuss week, I email our district representative, Richard Lindsey, and he came to read to our class. 

Another piece of advice! When you have a guest reader come read to your class, pick out a book ahead of time. I decided to let the kids pick which Dr. Seuss book they wanted him to read and they picked The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. If you don't know that one off hand, trust me, it's looonnnngggg. I'm pretty sure he was sneaking peeks at his watch. LOL!

Another fail: 
For Johnny appleseed day, we were apple obsessed! I had planned so many fun apple related activities, which included an apple taste test where each student came up and tested out different types of apples to pick which kind they liked best. This activity was going SO WELL. I mean, look at this sweet kid's face! 

You know what went wrong? 

I didn't remember that we were having a scheduled fire drill. So when the bell started ringing right in the middle of our taste testing, we all had to evacuate the building and head the the baseball field on the other side of campus. By the time we returned to the classroom, our apples looked less than ideal. #fail. 

Fail #3:
During one of our reading stories, we learned about the Mexican culture, so I created a fiesta for our class. I brought the food to school and had even got brightly colored paper plates and napkins and a piƱata that the kids were SO excited about! As I started to pass out plates and drinks, I realized I had forgotten all about drinks and cups! I had to quickly scrambled to find a enough drinks for everyone because I hadn't thought about that small detail!                      
There are COUNTLESS other fails from my first year of teaching AND every other year. I know it may seem like everyone has everything figured out when you start looking at blogs and social media, but they don't. You're just seeing a highlight. Everyone scrambles at some point and every teacher has been a first year teacher at some point. You aren't alone. 

Thinking back to when I created my first classroom for my first year of teaching, here's a few points I feel you should concentrate on at the very beginning:

1)Your classroom rules. Post them and inform the kids of what you expect. 

2) Your behavior plan. Research what you want your behavior management strategy to be.

3) Your schedule. Think about it and then write it down and fill in what's going to occur in those time slots. How is your day to day going to be? What's your morning routine look like? After a few weeks in, don't be afraid to change what isn't working, but don't start off the year without some sort of routine. The kids will behave better if they know what their day will consist of, even if you end up changing it later on. 

4) Map out how you want your classroom to be designed. Think about the different areas in your classroom that you want to create like your classroom library, different places for centers, your small group meeting area, etc. I'm a firm believer in planning out your classroom design and then going back in and changing it a few weeks into the school year if something isn't working right. You will be amazed at how important the flow of the classroom is! 

5) Communication to parents. If you're lower elementary, think about how you are going to do a send home folder every afternoon. For upper elementary, how are you going to communicate to parents what is happening in your classroom? (I use and it's wonderful!)

Okay veteran teachers, what advice do you have for those new teachers out there! Share away! And if you're a new teacher, let us know what grade you will be teaching. :) 

That's it for today's Teacher Tidbit Tuesday post. Here's what topics are coming up. 

All About Your First Year of Teaching (this post)

Top 10 Favorite Picture Books

Your Teaching History

Your Summer Rountine

Favorite Instagrammers

Classroom Design Plan

Top 10 Favorite Movies

Favorite Phone Apps

Happy List

Fictional Character Role Models

Workspace Must Haves

What's in Your Teacher Bag?