Build a Tip Sheet

By now, you're probably making your own list of survival tips to make your job easier that you didn't get in college. Hopefully, your mentor has helped by sharing with you his/her own secrets.

Here are a few more savvy secrets to consider:

  • Create a list of books, videos, museums and other learning resources that you can suggest to parents when they want to know how they can help support their children's learning.
  • Keep parents informed of any curriculum changes or when you introduce a new and potentially controversial lesson. What they don't know can hurt you.
  • Avoid talking about students in public. The teachers' lounge, the lunchroom or the Friday afternoon "refreshment" spots are places to relax and be yourself. But don't drop your guard.
  • Keep important and confidential material under lock and key. Keep materials that a substitute would need in an easily accessible spot.
  • Be careful of comments you make on report cards or other reports. Don't diagnose. Your expertise is teaching-not necessarily medicine or psychiatry.
  • Stay in your professional role and keep personal details to yourself. Students and their parents look to you as role models.
  • Be careful of what you write in notes and plans to substitutes. A remark like, "You need to keep an eye on Jimmy; he's a thief," can come back to haunt you if the substitute knows Jimmy's parents or worse yet-is Jimmy's parent!
  • Having clear, complete lesson plans and materials ready for the next day before you leave each afternoon can make your life-or a substitute's life, if necessary-easier.
  • Get paperwork and reports in on time. Someone may be waiting for you to complete your part of the job so they can do theirs. Always have necessary forms on hand. Take four copies of forms you need instead of just one--one for making mistakes; one for the next time you need one fast; one to turn in and one to lose. At the end of the year, return the extras.