Tips for a First Year Science Teacher

Tips for a First Year Teacher

Are you a first year science teacher or a first year teacher in general and want all of the help that you can get? When I tell you that your first year teaching will be the most difficult of your career, I really do mean it! This past school year was my 22nd and final year of teaching. It does get easier, but every year is HARD work! Here are a few tips that I would've told myself as a first year teacher:

1. Be flexible
As a veteran teacher, I can promise you that something will (without fail) interrupt your class. Whether there was a last minute assembly or the fire alarm decides to go off and one class of the day was ruined, you need to figure out a way to work around the disruption. If you work in middle school like I did, there are times when some students won't be in class for a choir trip, band trip, track meet, etc. Decide how you'll handle that make-up work and move on with your life. Complaining to admin. or anyone else won't solve anything and you'll only create a negative relationship with your co-workers. 

2. Ask for help
Some schools will provide you with a mentor teacher. USE THEM! I remember what it was like during my first few years of teaching, and it was rough. So, as a mentor teacher, I tried my best to help the new teachers. Even veteran teachers who move schools need help; not necessarily with the teaching content but also help learning the ins and outs of their new school. Mentor teachers have been through the trenches and could easily answer a simple dilemma that you've been struggling with for days. Your mentor teacher or veteran teachers in your field can greatly help you with lessons, activities, and anything else you might need as a newbie.

3. Plan out labs ahead of time
Science is very different from other classes in that students will complete labs in the classroom. Some labs need to be planned a few days or a week before the students complete it in class. It can take a lot of prep work. You need to make sure you have all of the lab materials necessary. That can take some planning. If you're missing an item for a lab, you need to have time to acquire the missing part. Also, if you have questions about any part of the lab, you'll be able to get help before you hand over the reins to the students. 

4. Test out the lab
Once you've acquired the materials for the lab, go through each step as if you were a student. If you don't know how to complete the lab, your students most likely will struggle. Also, you can see what kinks need to be worked out before the students get access to the lab. If I'm giving the students a lab that I haven't tested out yet, I feel very unprepared. There were even times where I fully tested out the lab and then something didn't work out right in my first period. That will happen. By testing out the lab first, you'll at least feel prepared and confident going into the activity.

5. Have classroom management
I know you've taken classes in classroom management in college, but that doesn't quite prepare you for managing 6 or so classes by yourself everyday of the year. I have stories that would make you speechless! 😝 The best way to feel somewhat confident in starting the school year is to have a PLAN! I recommend having an individual plan as well as whole group (class) plan. This topic alone could be a separate blog post. Ask yourself... what will I do if ____________ happens? Also, know your school's discipline policy and try to work your classroom management around that.

6. Write everything down
If you teach the same concepts year after year, your planning each year will get easier. Until then, pretend that your lesson plans are your daily diary. Each day, write down what worked and didn't work. It literally takes a few minutes, and your future self will thank you for the extra time you spent doing that. Even at 22 years, I still looked back on my lesson plan book when planning for a new school year. I also would create a running list of items that I would need or things I wanted to change for the next school year. 

7. Don't spend your own money
This has been a major topic of controversy in recent years regarding teachers having to buy their own supplies. Yes, you're going to spend your own money on your classroom to make it homey because it WILL be your second home. By all means, buy all the lamps, decorations, or whatever you want to make your classroom YOURS. But, as I said earlier, science is a whole different ballgame. We can use so many different supplies to put together one lab. My advice is to beg, borrow, and well don't steal. 😂 Take advantage of supplies that you have at your school, ask other science teachers at your school or in your district. You might have a budget for science materials or admin. might have extra money (especially if you're in a title one school) to help get you materials for labs. Now, if you need to buy an inexpensive consumable item, like an elodea plant, then just spend the money. If there's something that you'll use EVERY year, then get help from the school.

Whether you're in your first year or tenth, I really hope this helps some!! Good luck in your endeavors and remember, it will only get easier! If you have any questions or would like to add to the list, add a comment below.


  1. Great info! I hope to use it soon as my first year approaches!

    1. Thank you so much!! I really hope your 1st year is successful! GOOD LUCK!!