Buy chocolate! Or nuts, or gum, or beef jerky...what I mean is buy yourself a snack that is your go to pick-me-up. For me it's Russell Stover sugar-free chocolates. Teaching is hard, and draining in every possible way...especially if it is your first year. You will have moments where you think you can't keep the pace up. When that happens...sit down, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and then eat your snack of choice. This will give your brain the oxygen and glucose it needs to keep going. :)
Always start fresh! What I mean by that comes from my favorite quote. It's from Anne of Green Gables. It says, "Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it." I'd like to say everyday will be sunshine and roses, but that is simply not the case. You are going to mess up. Sometimes a lesson bombs. Sometimes that student gets the better of you. Sometimes you will forget to make the copies you need. It WILL happen. It happens to everyone. Forgive yourself, and start fresh the following day. Kids are remarkably resilient and forgiving. It's easier the younger they are, but all kids I know want to enjoy you and your classroom. So, start fresh and do better. Sometimes that is what gets me through an afternoon or evening after a rough day. Tomorrow is going to be a brand new chance to do a better job.
Never assume! I know it sounds cliché, but when you are new to teaching or new to a grade level you just don't always know what kids come to school with. Don't assume they know what a word means, that they've had an experience, that they've slept well the night before, or that they had dinner or breakfast at home. Some families are beyond blessed to give their children more than they need. They read tons of books, they hear lots of language, they go on vacations, have conversations, spend time with different cultures...and on and on. Then there are other children who are not as blessed. Enter the 10-year-old whose never tasted an ice cream sundae, or a 6-year-old who doesn't know the word sandwich and calls grapes purple berries. (Seriously, they were both my students.) I have had a few student teachers, and all of them have been surprised at what the kids were/were not familiar with. Even though I try hard not to be, even I am caught off guard from time-to-time. Also, don't assume that those kids with limited experiences are to be pitied. Sometimes they have other blessings. They might have extended families living with them showering them with love. They might have more responsibilities at home which is preparing them to be awesome grown ups. You just never know.
Find a stopping point! There is ALWAYS more to be done. And if you are the kind of teacher who is here reading these blogs, you will probably also be the kind of teacher adding tons of ideas to your to-do list. :) I used to work, and work, and work. I NEVER, I repeat, NEVER finished. hahaha...kinda of funny actually...now, I know. You must stop at some point and go home, go to happy hour, go exercise, go to the movies, whatever. Just go...it will be waiting for you when you come back.
Make emergency plans! I know you think you will always have time to make those perfect sub plans if you are going to be out. And...you might. I can tell you that I have taught for seven years, and I have never needed my emergency plans. That's okay. I still have them, because in those seven years, I have had A LOT of coworkers who were not prepared. That leaves your team in rough place. They have to figure out how to get plans and copies ready for your sub while managing their own class duties. It is NOT fun for them. Soooooo...make emergency plans. Please. Your team will be ever grateful. It's okay if it's just busy work. It is only for a day. Your class will be OK!
Be prepared! Your teaching will be different on the days you prepare thoroughly. Winging it is not a good option. I'm not saying you'll never do it, but it should not be your go to model. If you are prepared everything about your day is better...including your students behavior and your mood. I promise! But if you aren't prepared one day, don't forget #2. :) Tomorrow is a new day!