Dear New Teacher: Advice letters from the pros


If you’re heading into the classroom for your first time as a new teacher this September, first day jitters are expected. But we recognize that nervousness—a common mixture of both excitement and fear—doesn’t necessarily go away after the first day, the first week, or even the first month on the job. The learning curve is steep!

At Teachers Media International, we’re privileged to work with brilliant educators from across the globe—at all levels of their career. This month, we’ve tapped their expertise, and each Friday throughout September, we’ll share their letters of support for YOU, the new teacher. (Not a new teacher? No problem—may these letters refresh, inspire, or prompt you to share your own advice with our readers!)

We kick it off today with this fantastic letter from Bev Kula, a classroom teacher and instructor for pre-service teachers in Canada.

Dear New Teacher,

This is what you have been waiting for through all of those years of post-secondary education, practicums, and countless volunteer hours—the first day of school!  Your classroom is decorated, student nametags made, lesson plans completed…and now you wait in nervous anticipation.  How should you act on the first day—kind, friendly, stern, funny, serious…?  You’ve likely received a lot of contradictory advice on that score, but my recommendations, based on 40-plus years teaching everything from elementary to post-secondary, are as follows:

  • Be yourself. You can’t and shouldn’t change who you are (and won’t likely be able to keep up a charade for a whole year, so don’t even try!)
  • Greet students/parents at the door and welcome them, making an effort to call them by name and to find out something about them.
  • Enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm so be enthusiastic—and what’s not to be enthusiastic about? You’re embarking on your dream career with the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of your students, and this is the beginning of a year-long adventure together.  Enjoy!
  • Let your students in on a “secret” about yourself—it will make you appear “human” to your students and allow them to be “human” as well.
  • Humour is a great facilitator of learning—laughter is both a great healer and motivator. Respectful humour should be a part of every day in your classroom.
  • Remember what it was like to be a student and the qualities of a favourite teacher(s)—let that serve as a road map on your journey.
  • Involve your students in creating a (short) list of classroom expectations that will set the tone for the year.
  • Remember what motivated you to become a teacher and be the best teacher you can be every day (beginning with the first).

Good luck and have fun!  (It’s okay to have fun teaching, by the way…)

Best regards from,

A seasoned teacher who, equipped with the latest school supplies and technology, is eagerly (and nervously) awaiting the first day of class.

Wow! Thanks to Bev for that great insight! Calling all seasoned teachers—what would you add?

~ The Teachers Media Team


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