5 Regrets Every New Teacher Should Avoid: Reflections on My First Year

Entering the teaching profession is both an exciting and challenging journey. 

As a new teacher, I was filled with enthusiasm and determination to make a difference. However, looking back on my first year, there are several things I wish I had done differently. 

Here at Rainbow Sky Creations, we are on a mission to help every new teacher that enters the classroom. 

We want you to feel confident and ahead of the game. So, here are my top five regrets and the lessons I’ve learned along the way so you can learn from my mistakes

New Teachers

5 Regrets I Have as a New Teacher

Regret 1: Not Asking for Help

In my first year, I felt a strong need to prove myself. I thought asking for help would be seen as a sign of weakness or incompetence. This mindset led to unneeded stress and a whole lot of extra work.

Lesson Learned: Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Experienced colleagues are valuable resources. They have faced the same challenges and can offer practical advice and support. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them for guidance; teachers generally want to help. 

Beat new grad imposter syndrome

Wise words from a veteran teacher:

“Ask all of the questions from your supervisors and team. Never feel embarrassed to need help” – Words of Wisdom about colleagues from inside our free ebook: Advice for New Teachers

 

Regret 2: Working Every Weekend

Determined to be the best teacher, I spent nearly every weekend planning lessons, marking work, and creating resources. This relentless work schedule quickly led to burnout and feelings of resentment.

Lesson Learned: Work-life balance is crucial. Start your career by making your well-being a priority. It can look as small or as big as you like, but the aim is to get a bit of your day back each day! Dedicate specific times for work and personal life. Set boundaries to ensure you have time to rest and recharge. Remember, taking care of yourself is essential to being an effective teacher.

Quote-you-cannot-develop-student-wellbeing-without-teacher-wellbeing

Wise words from a teacher that has been there before:

“Don’t be afraid to leave things at school. There is always another day.” – Words of Wisdom about self-care from inside our free ebook: Advice for New Teachers

 

Regret 3: Thinking I Needed to Know It All

I entered my first year believing I needed to have all the answers. This unrealistic expectation made me reluctant to seek a mentor or admit when I was struggling.

Lesson Learned: It’s okay not to know everything. Having a trusted mentor can provide a safe space to ask questions, share concerns, and receive constructive feedback. Mentorship fosters growth and development, making the teaching journey less overwhelming.

Words from a teacher who has walked in your shoes:

“It is okay not to have all the answers in your first couple of years. There is so much pressure to walk into a teaching job and do it all when in reality, university prepares you for less than 10% of the actual chaos.” – Words of Wisdom about perspective from inside our free ebook: Advice for New Teachers

How to be a successful new teacher infographic

Regret 4: Creating Resources from Scratch

I spent countless hours creating lesson plans and classroom resources from scratch, thinking it was the only way to ensure they were effective and tailored to my students’ needs. I also laminated everything, which isn’t great for time management or the environment. 

New grad teacher / new teacher

Lesson Learned: Utilise existing resources. There are countless high-quality teaching materials available online and within your school. Adapting these resources can save time and energy, allowing you to focus more on instruction and student engagement. 

The first thing we always tell our new teachers inside Transform Your First Years, is to access the units of work that have already been written and save on your school server / google drive. They might not be perfect or the way you would do it, but they are a great starting point. 

Our motto here at Rainbow Sky Creations is working smarter and not harder isn’t cheating! It is smart!

If you want suggestions other than laminating, check out this blog post. 

Maths resource UNO cards

Regret 5: Using My Voice as My Main Form of Classroom Management

In the beginning, I relied heavily on my voice to manage the classroom, often raising it to get students’ attention or address behaviour issues. This approach quickly strained my voice and was not sustainable.

Lesson Learned: Develop a diverse toolkit for classroom management. Non-verbal cues, signals, and consistent routines can be far more effective and less taxing on your voice. Establishing clear expectations and consequences helps create a structured and respectful learning environment.

Setting up your classroom

Experienced teacher advice:

“Talk less. Listen more. Be firm, fair and consistent!” – Words of Wisdom about classroom management from inside our free ebook: Advice for New Teachers

 


 

Reflecting on my first year as a teacher, these regrets have transformed into valuable lessons that have shaped my approach to teaching.

To new teachers, I encourage you to seek help, maintain balance, embrace mentorship, use available resources, and develop varied classroom management strategies. These steps will not only make your teaching journey more manageable but also more enjoyable and rewarding.

Rainbows ahead,

Ashleigh (and Alisha)

New teachers

Stay Connected: For more tips, resources, and support, listen to our podcast Rainbow Skies for New Teachers. Together, we are unstoppable!

PS: If you didn’t grab our Advice for New Teachers freebie yet, what are you waiting for? Get your copy here.

Advice-for-new-teachers-freebie

What to read next:

5 Strategies to Conquer New Teacher Fatigue

New Teacher freebie hub

Podcast episode: 5 secrets for a successful first year of teaching

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