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28 Veteran Teacher Tips for New Teachers

28 Veteran Teacher Tips for New Teachers


I talked to a number of teaching veterans and asked them to share tips specifically for first-year teachers. They all had amazing advice to share! Many of the ideas were repeated so I've compiled them into a list. Here’s their wisdom:

I talked to a number of teaching veterans and asked them to share tips specifically for first-year teachers. They all had amazing advice to share! Many of the ideas were repeated so I've compiled them into a list. Here’s their wisdom:

I talked to a number of teaching veterans and asked them to share tips specifically for first-year teachers. They all had amazing advice to share! Many of the ideas were repeated so I've compiled them into a list. Here’s their wisdom:

  1. “Start to build your library of themed picture books for the units you teach right away. Books are perfect as a backup plan and sub plans on short notice.”
  2. “Don’t sweat the small stuff. Do not allow behavior that you do not want to have continuously.”
  3. “Be consistent in...meeting deadlines, being on time for work...being prepared...establishing routines and procedures...following protocol...knowing when to “lead” and when to be “led”.”
  4. “You are not their “friend”. You can have great relationships with kids without being friends. Create boundaries and structure and operate within those..... kids will thank you for that!”
  5. “The biggest thing is to keep consistency. Remind students of your expectations. Keep lessons tight, and when they are not following your expectations, stop and reteach.”
  6. “Removing privileges is not ideal. They’re kids. Add additional movement breaks, or engage them more deeply in their work. If you don’t already have a class contract (with like 3 broad expectations) you could work with your students to create one. Then, when students do something unexpected, refer back to the expectations. “Remember, our expectation is to show kindness to everyone in the class. Let’s make another choice.””
  7. “Create office hours and stick with them! Your family shouldn't suffer for work. It's not worth the stress. Use free time at work to be productive, not social. It helps!”
  8. “Leave school at a decent hour and don’t take work home. It can consume you.”
  9. “Forgive yourself for what you can’t do yet.”
  10. “A couple others have said it, but don't stay at school forever. I used to set an alarm on my phone that would make me go home at a reasonable time. You don't get paid extra to stay late!” 

  11. “Build relationship, set reasonable expectations, be consistent, and always let the kids see that you are real. They can find a fake a hundred miles away.”
  12. “Find a teacher buddy that will truly support and help you ‼️ Stay positive ‼️ Have at Least one day you don't take work home or do school work ‼️”
  13. “Have big dreams for sure but take it one step at a time. Understand and accept that not everything will come together right in the beginning. Do a lot of reading of blogs, educational articles etc. That’s always helpful.”
  14. “Google is your friend. I have found soooooooo much information from different tech blogs.”
  15. “Maslow before Bloom. Every day. Relationship building is key. Walk the walk. Deadlines important? Impose them on yourself as well. Want them to be life long learners? Model your learning. Be human. Share your school challenges so that they know you struggle but can overcome. Be willing to laugh at yourself. Remember that the kid who needs the love the most often makes it most difficult to give it. Be the adult that doesn't give up on them.”
  16. “Find a teacher buddy or mentor that will help you know what is coming up, where to find things, and who to go to.”
  17. “Be kind to yourself.  Don’t be afraid to learn something from and with your students.”
  18. “It will get done tomorrow. I spent hours at school, in the beginning, trying to do it all and now I know that the work I do is sufficient for today. If it does not get done, that is what to-do lists are for.  Same for emails- they will be there tomorrow. Answer them only if an emergency - the rest will be handled the next day. We put a ridiculous amount of pressure on ourselves to immediately handle something but a banker or lawyer who waits until the next day is not seem as a problem.  Maslow before Bloom - love them and help nurture their souls before anything else.  Remember that you are not their only teacher and that you may not be their fave teacher.  Keep them busy.  Find a marigold - a bright spot - teacher in your school that you can talk and giggle with....and complain to when needed.  Say I don't know - when kids ask something and you have no idea, be honest - show them that you are always learning and don't know everything.”
  19. “Turn off notifications for school emails. Do not check it on the weekends or at night.”
  20. “Make sure everything is ready for the next day's lessons before you leave. And have a bin or folder with emergency sub plans. You never know when the unexpected will happen.”
  21. “A good mentor and a grade partner who is willing to share ideas!”
  22. “Focus on routines and behavior! Set expectations and you will be amazed how smooth your year will be!”
  23. “Read good books and change your voice for different characters and when they beg you for one more chapter look up at the clock and down at the book and choose the book sometimes (or every time)!”
  24. “Breathe and be organized and always have a plan b.”
  25. “Make sure they know you love them and that you believe in them. Get to know them. If they know they are loved and you have high expectations of them, they will work hard and will go farther than you ever expected.”
  26. “Don’t grade everything!!! Some work is practice and can go into file 49 (trash).”
  27. “You can’t do everything! A lot of the time, what is being asked of you won’t fit in a day. Choose what’s best for your kids and don’t fret over the stuff that doesn’t really help them! Do what you can.”
  28. “Not every lesson has be over the top with songs, dances, Bitmojis games, etc. If you do this every day for every lesson, you’ll never leave work.”
Would you add anything to the list? Let me know in the comments.
Pin this blog post to refer back to later:
I talked to a number of teaching veterans and asked them to share tips specifically for first-year teachers. They all had amazing advice to share! Many of the ideas were repeated so I've compiled them into a list. Here’s their wisdom:

Read more »
Brittany Washburn
Top Teaching Tips for Tech Teachers

Top Teaching Tips for Tech Teachers

Top Teaching Tips for Tech Teachers

I interviewed two tech ed teachers, asking them to each give their top 3 tips for fellow tech ed teachers.

First up, Kathy Weir, who has been teaching for 20 years.  She was a former classroom teacher for grades 1,3,4,5, and a former K-8 specialist for PE and Technology. She also served as the technology integration specialist and tech coach for a K-8 school district. She is currently an Elementary Technology instructor but due to COVID, is also doing a lot of PD and tech coaching.  Here are her top 3 tips for fellow edtech teachers:

“1. Limit the number of online resources you have students accessing during distance learning. Make sure these websites and software are easy to navigate with little or no guidance. When possible, explore the ability of tools already familiar to students as well as native tools within your school’s choice of platforms. 

2. Whenever possible during live sessions, limit the number of resources students have to access during that live session. Fewer tabs open equals better Wi-Fi connect for students. Better connect for the student could lead to a higher level of engagement and lower level of stress and frustration.

3. If offering PD, reference the SAMR model. Teachers may be feeling overwhelmed in learning a lot of new tech tools. The SAMR model can celebrate the transition teachers are making with remote learning and highlight how teachers are elevating the learning experience for their students with the integration of technology.”

Next we have Beth Hamlin, a K-1 Remote specials facilitator and Middle School Technology Teacher.  She has been working in education for nearly 2 decades and loves presenting and sharing creative ways to utilize G Suite tools, Chromebooks, Computer Science, and other technologies such as 3D printers and Raspberry Pi. 

“1. Don’t try to do it all. There are an incredible amount of resources, tools, and ideas. It can get really overwhelming. Try having a goal or two for the year or part of the school year in what you want to improve or explore. 

2. Don’t try to know it all. We often think we have to know the tool before we share it with students. We need to make sure the site is safe and meets our requirements for compliance and privacy. I find students love the ability to play and explore with you. Celebrate their findings.  Be inquisitive with them and allow them to be part of the evaluation process. It gives students more buy in. 

3. Simplicity/ Consistency-  Especially this year, when our learners are not in consistent environments, it’s important we not introduce too many different places or logins. If you have multiple places students need to log in- try to make the login the same. Single sign ons are helpful. Families are at various stages of stress, trauma, and ability. The more consistent and clear you make things, the more manageable they can be. If you give 3 sites with different logins to students- it can be muddling. Making videos to explain how to log in (no matter the age level) are very helpful. Even better if you can involve your students and community in creating these help tutorials to help others.  Post these tutorials in one place and also link to them each time students need to use them. Less clicks makes for a better user experience and saves you more time in the long run.” 

I also asked technology education teachers from a variety of different backgrounds to give their top tips to fellow tech ed teachers.  Here is what they said!

  • “Make technology fun! Something the kids look forward to!”

  • “Don’t reinvent the wheel-don’t make it too complicated-it’s ok if it’s not quiet, the best learning isn’t quiet.”

  • “Start a “Done Early” list of extension activities for students that finish early.”

  • “Make a class website! Make sure to pick a platform that allows for a password protected page for sharing files with students.”

  • “Go slow”

  • “Find a few favorite tech tools that can be used for different things and use those. Teach your kids to use them in multiple ways. Don’t feel obligated to use everything. It’s too much for you and the kids.”

  • “Remember that you are a teacher first.”

  • “Use humor and make connections. Tech is a journey not a destination.”

  • “Keep those non tech kids at the forefront of your lesson planning. Start simple to avoid frustration but always have extensions for those ready to fly.”

  • “Remember Developmentally Appropriate, even though students have tech at home, it’s not always used the way you think.”

  • “Reteach reteach reteach”

  • “Let the students explore new tools and see what they can discover on their own. Give general guidelines for projects so students can surprise you with their creativity!”

  • “Create a website that has common educational links on it making it easier for students and yourself."

  • "Don’t get hung up on everything being perfect, allow flexibility. When technology doesn’t work give it grace, I constantly say “I love you air server!” While I say it, I’m doing what it takes to make it work but I'm teaching my students that patience is better than showing anxiety when things don’t work."

  • “Always have a plan B!”

Top Teaching Tips for Tech Teachers

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Brittany Washburn
The 6 Best Online Gradebooks for Teachers

The 6 Best Online Gradebooks for Teachers

 The 6 Best Online Gradebooks for Teachers

Make recordkeeping easier by using online gradebooks! I’m sharing suggestions for the 10 best online gradebooks that teachers can use with every class. Here are the pros and cons of each one.



  • The setup process is quick and easy, with a clean interface that makes it easy to navigate.

  • Customizable reports offer a multitude of reporting criteria and data display styles.

  • Online distribution and collection of assignments, collaboration tools and communication features.


    Although there are a variety of assessment and evaluation parameters, educators outside of the U.S. may find it difficult to adjust the options to their needs.
  • Students must be added to the database one at a time, you can’t just upload a .csv file.



    The interface combines features of social media platforms, making it easy for students to navigate.
  • Distribute and collect assignments online, as well as keep track of attendance.

  • Materials for lesson planning can be uploaded from a variety of sources, or even linked to the web.Customizable learning expectations for the United States, Canada, and a number of other countries.
  • Students and parents can self-enroll in a Schoology class with an access code. 


  • Teachers have to wait for students to self-enroll before they can track their progress.



    You can organize courses into units and add standards, and the platform offers informative tutorials on creating these.
  • Nice layout, with a clear overview of evolving grades and good attendance tracking.


    The site runs on Adobe Flash, so it may be unsupported. However, there is an emerging 2.0 that promises to bring the latest technology and the latest best practices in the industry.
  • Allows no student/parent access and limited collaboration features.



  • An intuitive student interface reminiscent of social media platforms. 

  • There is an app store of free (and paid) apps that you can use to increase Edmodo’s functionality.

  • Teachers can connect and collaborate with other teachers using the software.

  • Easy sharing of worksheets or handouts with smart document storage and dedicated shareable folders, as well as web-based distribution and grading of assignments.Learning tools such as engaging quizzes and student exit slips (“one thing I learned today”) available.


    The gradebook can’t be accessed until students are enrolled. Similarly, learners have to self-enroll using a code before they can begin working on assignments.
  • Teachers outside of the U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, and Australia cannot access the free apps.



  • Options to keep track of mastery, leave teacher feedback, develop seating plans, and more.

  • It includes apps for making quizzes, wikis and flashcards for your students.

  • You can create accounts so students can monitor their progress, as well as retrieve and submit assignments.Engrade is a simple gradebook, so if you still have teachers on paper systems it makes the transition to digital extremely easy.


  • May not be supported on older browsers and operating systems.

  • This service does upload the information to a third-party server, so you have to get parental permission to do so.



    It has a clean, simple interface makes it easy to use for all educators, regardless of technological skill.
  • Integrates with a number of online services including Google+, Facebook, WordPress and Twitter.

  • The teacher portfolio allows you to upload and reuse your lesson plans and materials.

  • In addition to the built-in lesson planner, there is also a seating plan generator and attendance tracker.


    Only U.S. standards/expectations are available, so teachers from other countries may struggle to align it to their needs.
  • It has a graphics-based dashboard that is not equipped with labels to help with navigation.

The 6 Best Online Gradebooks for Teachers

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Brittany Washburn
Elementary STEM Con Virtual Conference

Elementary STEM Con Virtual Conference

 Elementary STEM CON & Beyond: April 16-19, 2021!!!

Teaching is tough, heart-centered work and it’s so important to not only continue our own learning, but to reconnect with what inspires us to teach in the first place. 

Some PD just really hits the mark of being practical and inspiring. It’s rare when training restores your energy and passion for the incredibly important work we do. 

That’s what STEM CON was about last year, and that’s what it’s about this year … but you’ll notice we’re adding on to the awesomeness!


Elementary STEM CON & Beyond: April 16-19, 2021!!!

We’re going “beyond” what we started last year. This year’s session list includes more STEAM, secondary content, SPED, and more!

  • Integrating STEM with literature and content standards in multiple content areas

  • Authentic STEAM 

  • Culturally responsive STEM/STEAM

  • Social-emotional learning & STEM/STEAM

  • Makerspaces & Builder Clubs

  • Special education & STEM/STEAM

  • Augmented Reality apps

  • Robotics

  • Distance learning approaches & modifications

  • Green screen

  • The EDP, helping kids deal with failure, questioning methods, and many more!

I'm presenting 2 sessions this time (last year I did 1):

  • Using Virtual Manipulatives for STEM Challenges
  • Elementary STEM CON & Beyond: April 16-19, 2021!!!
    Using a Flipped Classroom Model for STEM Instruction
    Elementary STEM CON & Beyond: April 16-19, 2021!!!

In addition to my sessions, this is what you can look forward to:

πŸ’œ 45+ sessions, panels, and interviews from 25+ passionate educators

πŸ’œ 25+ hours of video sessions on a wide range of STEM topics

πŸ’œ Daily freebies, raffles, & giveaways

πŸ’œ Private, pop-up conference Facebook group to interact with presenters and teachers around the world

πŸ’œ Bonus Bundle of 13 teaching resources for all attendees

πŸ’œ Opportunities to earn PD credits (see site FAQ for details)

➡️ You can see the full session list and descriptions here.

⭐️ Be sure to grab the downloadable conference guide while you’re there -- it’s so helpful for helping you figure out which sessions are the perfect fit for your grade level.

I really hope to "see" you there! Pin this post to get back to later, but don't wait too long or you'll miss the early bird registration rates.

Elementary STEM CON & Beyond: April 16-19, 2021!!!

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Brittany Washburn
23 Things You May Not Know About Google Suite

23 Things You May Not Know About Google Suite

23 Things You May Not Know About Google Suite

Here are a few tips or features that you may not know are available for Google Suite (Drive, Docs, Forms, Sheets, Slides, etc.). 


  • You can download a Google Drive sync tool that will add a folder on your computer called Google Drive that will look like any other folder (My Documents for example). This means that when you make a document on your computer, you can save it straight into your Google Drive just like you would in your documents. This is a good tool to utilize if you are struggling to get colleagues swapped to Google Suite.


  • When collaborating on a doc things can get messy.  Rather than sifting through a myriad of edits of a doc to find the original draft, teach everyone to stay organized by naming specific versions of a doc. Go to version history and click on the three dots on the right of the version you want to name. From here, you can also make a copy of that version, which is helpful for sharing the "before" and "after" of work. You can even create notifications to be alerted when changes are made.

  • You can use the collaborative features of G Suite to edit, comment, and collaborate on Microsoft Office files using Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides without converting file types.

  • With Research Pane (Select Tools > Explore from the top menu), you can open up Google Search directly from a Google Doc. You can even drag and drop to add a link or embed an image directly from the pane.  For those still learning about citations, Research Pane lets you simply highlight the appropriate text, and it will automatically link to the results shown in the pane.


  • Trying to design a worksheet, handout or infographic?  In Slides you can change the page size from a presentation to a regular 8.5x11 page by clicking File > Page Setup and then choosing “Custom.”  You’ll find it a very flexible and competent workspace, not to mention cloud-based and ideal for collaboration!


  • Flubaroo quickly grades multiple-choice or fill-in-blank assignments created in Forms.


  • Heatmaps are a great way to draw attention to important data in your sheet. You can highlight particular values or outliers using conditional formatting to apply a color scale, quickly pointing out lower and higher values in your student data.

  • If lots of people are working on a sheet, you can lock down some of the data to prevent mistakes. Lock sheets and even individual cells, or if you don’t want to completely lock down cells just use the option to show a warning before they’re edited.

  • You can easily add sparklines to your sheets in order to quickly see trends in your student data.  Check out this guide.

  • Make QR Codes to create quick links to relevant websites, or showcase student work hosted online.  This example will pull in the data from the A1 cell to create a QR code: =IMAGE("https://chart.googleapis.com/chart?chs=200x200&cht=qr&chl="&A1&"")


  • Schedule posts (assignments, announcements, questions) to be released at specific times. To schedule ahead, set up your post the way you want it, then click the drop down menu next to the Assign button and choose Schedule. You can select the date and time you want your post to appear in the stream.

  • When creating a post, click the Add Topic button. You can create topics of your choice. Once created, they can be reused. Now you can organize posts by Chapter, Units, Themes, Topics, or Assignment Type.

  • Do you have an aid, or work in a cohort? Add a Co-Teacher to your course. Just go to the About menu, and click Invite Teachers.  The recipient will see an invitation the next time they login to Google Classroom.  Co-Teachers can do anything the teacher can do, except delete a class. If you need to remove a Co-Teacher, just click the menu in their profile box and click Remove.

  • Reuse any post from any class – current or archived – at any time.  Open the class you want to post in.  Click on the + in the bottom right corner of the screen.  Choose "reuse post."  


  • For quick, abbreviated lesson planning simply create calendar events that begin at each of your class times, then have Calendar email an event reminder to you.  In the event notes include any links or files you’ll need for the lesson, page numbers students will need in the text or workbook, your lesson objective, a resource for early finishers, etc.  Everything you need to know for each class appears in your inbox right when you want it.

  • G Suite has added improved scheduling to Calendar that automatically suggests meeting times and available rooms based on your preferences to help you save time. Learn more in this Google blog post


  • With keyboard shortcuts you can search through, view, read and reply to an email without having to touch the mouse.  Although this may not sound like much, you would be surprised how much time it will save when you are having to look through and reply to lots of emails.  To enable the shortcuts, you have to go to the Advanced tab within Settings in google mail, then click on the new Keyboard Shortcuts option within the Addons tab to customize it.

  • Set up filters to organize your incoming mail before you’ve even viewed it. For example, if you have worksheet subscription emails coming in, you can set it up so that rather than going into your inbox along with emails that need immediate attention from parents and admin, they go straight into their own label called “subscriptions”. It still shows the red “1” like when a new email comes in beside the label so you can see when you have something, but it makes your Gmail much tidier without having to manually organize it. 

  • The G Suite offers several ways to email groups of people other than typing email addresses individually.  You can enter a saved list of recipients with Contact Groups, or send an email to a Google Group email address that forwards the email to all group members.


  • Hangouts offers an instant messenger service when you just need to send a quick message where you are looking for a quick reply. You can also integrate this within google mail, so that it pops up at the bottom of your mailbox.

Add-Ons & Features

  • Google Add-Ons can be installed from the G Suite Marketplace to expand the functionality of Google Suite and access apps like Pear Deck, Flubaroo, Doctopus, ClassReporter, Edulastic, and CoRubrics directly from Gmail, Docs, Slides, Forms or Sheets.

  • The Explore feature found in the Tools menu of Docs, Sheets and Slides not only helps you research, it can also assist as you analyze data and design graphics.

  • Google Tasks integrates with Gmail and Calendar.  You can have a to-do list that allows functionality such as Tasks created from an email displaying a "related email" link below the task.

23 Things You May Not Know About Google Suite

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Brittany Washburn
Virtual Valentines for Distance Learning

Virtual Valentines for Distance Learning

In this time of social distancing and virtual learning, Valentine's Day is a way of still making a connection in our classroom communities. There are several options for Virtual Valentines and ways to distribute them.

In this time of social distancing and virtual learning, Valentine's Day is a way of still making a connection in our classroom communities. There are several options for Virtual Valentines and ways to distribute them. 

Virtual Valentine Options

1. Valentine's Day Scene Digital Glyph. This is a pretty traditional activity turned digital. Students design a virtual valentine in Google Slides. It is great copy and paste practice plus the end results are great for sharing. You could have students make multiple versions to share.

2. Special Person's Day Digital Card. This one is a similar process but the finished result includes both clip art and text. Consider having students make one for each member of their class. 

3. Consider joining the official Virtual Valentine's 2021, which connects students around the world. 

Sharing Finished Virtual Valentines

Once students have created their Valentines, it is time to publish or share them. 
1. Padlet. Use a class Padlet to have students share their finished Valentines. Feel free to use mine or make your own using this example. Decide if you want students to be able to comment on the posts.

2. Have students upload into your learning management system (Seesaw, Google Classroom, etc).

3. Create a Jamboard and have students upload their finished Valentines.

Hopefully this gives you a few ideas for how to do Virtual Valentines this year. 

In this time of social distancing and virtual learning, Valentine's Day is a way of still making a connection in our classroom communities. There are several options for Virtual Valentines and ways to distribute them.

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Brittany Washburn

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