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A to Z Tips for New Teachers

Gail Skroback Hennessey

Tips for New Teachers


Always exhibit an interest in what you are teaching. If you think it’s important , your students will, too.

Have an assessment for how to grade your students.


Be prepared with your lesson.

Have “bell ringers” to keep students on task when you are collecting papers, etc. It’s better to have MORE than not enough for each day’s lesson.

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Try to make connections with other areas of study with cross curricular activities whenever possible.

Critique your lessons each day for what you liked and what needs improvement.


Dress for success, your “teacher uniform” should not be too casual,

Decorate your room. (It’s your “home away from home for 7 hours each day).

Don’t READ your with the students.


Establish expectations and a class climate which students will come to expect each class. Keep an “emergency folder” with activities for a couple of days which a sub can do should you be called away and not have time to leave detailed lesson plans.


Try and Focus on the positive each day. Negatives will only get you down.

Fire drill procedures and emergency Z Schedule procedures should be learned immediately and reviewed with the students.


Set up a Grading system. How many grades will you give a week, what will the different assignments be weighed for importance, etc.


Have consequences for students not meeting your requirement and follow through with parent telephone calls, after school or lunch detention, etc.

HANG students’ work around the room.

State and post your Homework policy.


Offer incentive especially for younger learners such as “praise” for good work, less homework passes or bonus point, etc. REWARD positive behavior. Make sporadic “positive” telephone calls home.


Just try your best and realize you won’t always have a successful lesson.


Keep note paper in your desk (or Thank you notes) and distribute to students who show improvement, responsibility, citizenship, helpfulness ,etc.


Try and laugh each day!


Create a “Menu” of what will be covered in the class. Write it on the chalkboard so students know what is to be covered.

Mark your papers. If you give an assignment, look at what is done. (My feeling is students shouldn’t mark students’ work....that’s (in my opinion) your job. Peer review doesn’t count as I believe this can be a useful learning tool).

Motivate your students by “acting” and performing.


Never be alone with a student.


Be Organize. Keep folders of lessons developed, websites used so you have them for future reference. You can track websites on in bookmarks or on weblists.


Use Primary sources to help to enhance the lesson and foster DBQ essay writing.

Gather Personal information on each student (birthday, telephone, address, study buddy to send work if ill, etc.)

Proofread any work that is distributed to students for spelling and grammar (a recent news story told of a 3rd grade teacher that sent packets home with a font which was of people in inappropriate positions!)

Speak professionally.


Ask lots of questions to keep your students on task.


Review all terms and concepts throughout your unit often. (Have the students HEAR, SEE , READ and WRITE, more than one method to help retain materials covered in class)

Have a daily routine.

Create a RUBIC for student assessment.

How will you arrange your room? What works best for the particular students, rows, groups, assigned seats,etc. *** Personally, I allow the students to sit with whom they’d like thus already finding “Friends” and allow them to stay where they selected unless they show that they can’t work well during class where they are sitting.


Share some personal self interests with your students (favorite color, favorite author or sports team, etc.).

Set an example, for some, you may be their only positive role model!

Smile! (it’s a great stress reducer)

Shake hands with the students on the first day and during the school year.


Ask experienced Teachers for ideas on classroom management and other issues. Be open to suggestions.


Use the chalkboard/whiteboard (interactive or not), overhead, flash cards, Web 2.0 tools, music, etc. to give different learners ways to absorb the material presented.


Have variety of teaching styles and activities in your lesson. Use overheads, audio visuals, computers, chalkboards,etc.


Wrap up each lesson by reviewing the key concepts, vocabulary and any assignment to be given.

WALK around the room during the presentation of your lesson .

Have students WRITE in journals, their notes(interactive notebooks), etc.


Do “xtras” such as chaperoning a dance, going to a sporting event, having students come for lunch.


You” set the tone of your classroom. Someone needs to be in charge of your classroom, make sure it is you!


Get enough ZZZZZZZZZZ each night so you are well rested for the next day.

What tips do you have to share with new teachers? Share in the comments section!

Gail Hennessey was named both Outstanding Elementary Social Studies Classroom Teacher of the Year Award from the New York State Council for the Social Studies and the National Council for the Social Studies in 1988. Gail writes often for children's publications and shares free teacher resources at

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