It’s likely that you will find a veteran teacher that you feel comfortable around and who doesn’t seem to mind helping out a rookie teacher that needs it. Even though you might find some veterans don’t like first year teachers at all, you’ll find that special someone that will take you under their wing. This person, whom will be referred to as your Teaching Pal, is a very important part of your first year success. There will be so many rules for you to follow, so many meetings to attend, and so many multicolored Post-it notes in your mailbox that you’ll go insane if you don’t have someone nearby that’s already been through the trial by fire and made it through intact. Some schools will pair you up with just such a person, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do your own friend-making and finding someone that you truly click with.
One quick tip is to have your Teaching Pal look over your student lists when you receive them to point out any students that have exceptionally bad reputations. Those bleeding-heart teacher books say that this is not good practice, with the argument that it causes you to pre-judge the student and expect poor behavior from them, thus continuing the vicious cycle for that student. But if you’re realistic about the situation you’ll want to see the blows coming before the student starts to swing. It doesn’t mean you’re going to treat the student differently, it just makes it nice when their bad behavior doesn’t come as a surprise and you can be ready for it, taking the proper steps to handle the situation.
You should also take this time to find out if you have any local celebrities in your classes. These wouldn’t be kid movie stars, unless you’re teaching in Hollywood. These would be kids that have parents on the Board of Education, their parents could be fellow teachers, or they could be politically connected in some way. When it comes to these students you’ll want to give them a wide berth. Don’t give yourself an even bigger headache by making an example out of the mayor’s daughter – unless she really merits it. If you do, be ready to face the repercussions, they will come at your quickly and furiously.
It is also a good idea to partner up with another fellow first timer. No one will quite understand your pain as someone that is going through it with you. You’ll want someone to share the hardships, the joys, the frustrations, and the insanity with. You also need someone to hang out with on the weekends and outside of school. You can’t do that with your students, even though you spend so much time with them during the week, they can start to feel like coworkers.