Allison White

How to Survive Your First Year Teaching

I completely understand the need to survive first year teaching. When I was a new teacher, I was barely keeping my head above water and I was afraid I’d sink any day. I’ve been there, but I made it through! Here’s my advice on how to survive first year teaching.

Choose a Time to Stop Working Each Day

You could work until midnight every night and get up at 5 am and start again. In the moment, it may feel like you are being more productive, but in reality, this is a sure-fire way to burn out before winter break. You need sleep and “me time” to recharge in order to survive first year teaching. Take time for yourself, even if you need to schedule it firmly on your calendar.

How to Survive First Year Teaching Magoosh

Have Someone Outside School to Vent To

You need to talk about the stresses of work, but don’t create a toxic work environment by venting to your co-workers. Talk to your mom, a friend, a roommate, or a significant other about what you’re going through and allow them to support you. Do know when to stop talking about school, too, and allow yourself to take a “mental break.”

Don’t Be a Perfectionist!

This one was so difficult for me. I had been so successful during high school and college that it was really hard to find myself in such a vulnerable place. I thought I was doomed to be a terrible teacher forever! In reality, I was just learning, like we all do. I became a super perfectionist; I thought if I made this one lesson perfect, then I would be redeemed. You know what? I’m an experienced teacher now and I still bomb lessons. Let go of being a perfectionist and learn to forgive yourself.

Seek Out Support

Find an administrator or teacher at your school who can help you by giving feedback on your lessons or letting you observe in your classroom. Ideally, this should be an ongoing mentorship arrangement that begins before you really begin to struggle. Support is essential to survive your first year of teaching, so don’t be afraid to be firm and ask your administrator for what you need.

Want to do more than just survive first year of teaching? Check out my companion post and learn how to thrive your first year teaching!


  • Allison White

    Allison is an Early Childhood Educator who has been a teacher since 2010. She graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in 2010 with a degree in Psychology, focused in Child Development. She began her teaching career as a 2nd grade teacher in Washington, D.C. After moving to Denver, Colorado she discovered a passion for Early Childhood Special Education. She earned a Master’s in the subject from University of Colorado Denver in 2015. She spent Spring 2016 teaching pre-service early childhood educators at the undergraduate level. Now she and her husband are on a big adventure travelling around the western United States in an RV!

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