5 Time-Saving Teaching Tips for New English Teachers
After classes, tests, and student teaching, it’s finally time: Your first English teaching assignment with your own classroom. Chances are you will teach multiple sections of multiple courses. And that means multiple preps. As a first year English teacher, it is easy to get overwhelmed with both planning and grading—all while navigating what being a teacher means to your personal life and what your personality means to being a teacher.
However, this daunting task doesn’t have to be impossible! Here are five tips that will hopefully make the first year a little smoother.
Teach what You Know
If you can choose textbooks or novels, choose books that you are familiar with and ones that you know you’ll enjoy. When you’re bogged down by both grading and prepping for class in the middle of a unit, at least you won’t have the added pressure of reading and learning a new text. If you can’t choose the novels altogether, choose supplemental materials that you are excited about. Add in current event news articles or short stories with the same theme as novels. You’ll challenge your students, and you’ll be excited to share some of your personal knowledge.
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
When you’re starting out, you’re going to want to do it all and try it all. You’ll want to create your own materials. That’s great if you have the time, but give yourself a break from time to time and use the resources available to you. Textbooks have a wealth of exercises—from reading comprehension questions to writing prompts and grammar drills—to supplement any lesson you deliver. Teacher exchange sites allow you to download (for free or for a fee) original lessons created by other teachers. Eventually, you may even want to contribute your own lessons!
Schedule, Schedule, Schedule
Let’s face it. It’s hard teaching English in high school (or college). Most school curricula will require you to teach literature, comprehension, vocabulary, grammar, and essay writing. Depending on your school’s schedule, you may see your students anywhere from two times to five times per week. Trying to cover everything will feel like cramming mini lessons into each week without any continuity. Avoid the feeling of hectic planning by scheduling vocabulary units over the semester to organize your materials and give yourself some mainstays in your weekly planning. If you know you want to end the semester with students writing a complete essay, break it down into teachable units throughout the grading term. Working backwards will eliminate the fear that you may not finish your curriculum in time.
Technology is Your Friend
Auto-graders are here and they are real. If your students have laptops or other devices in the classroom, look into websites you can use to make grading more efficient. Create vocabulary and reading comprehension quizzes online to use autograders. Document sharing and presentation development can also be done online. And essay development can be made easier with sites like WriteLab, which will give students feedback on most elements of writing style and structure. Using sites that give students feedback directly means that you will receive a more polished product when essays are turned into you.
Drills and Spot-Checks
Don’t grade everything! It is important to track your students’ learning, but you will know more about what they understand from talking to them than you will from grading every single piece of homework. In-class assignments or online drills give you a quick way to give all students credit for participating. Spot-checking homework assignments allows you to scan work quickly and look for key elements. Decide what your end goal is and look for that!
Teaching is a rewarding career, but it is also incredibly challenging. It requires much more time than a “traditional” job. Taking care of your students’ education is a large task, but there is nothing wrong with making some aspects of the job easier for yourself so you can give your best to your students.
WriteLab can help you with your writing instruction during your first year—and each year after that. The WriteLab app gives students in-depth feedback and encourages them to work on multiple drafts.