10 tips for starting the year off right

1) Get Organized
Start off the year by getting your personal papers organized. You never know when you may have to produce a document related to your job. Your certification, past evaluations and professional development records are very important. Set up a good record-keeping system. Consider keeping it all in an electronic file on a flash drive.

2) Keep Tax Records
During the year, you may have expenditures that may be used as business deductions on your income tax return. Now is the time to set aside a place for keeping tax records and to start keeping track of them. Keep your receipts and be sure to note on the receipt the exact purchase.

3) Improve Yourself
Set your sights on improving your professional ability in at least one area during the coming year. WVEA has many resources and opportunities to help new and experienced teachers improve their craft. Ask your local president or Organization Development Specialist (ODS) for details.

4) Develop Resources
Develop your own sources of information and your resource list. To help get you started, ask a WVEA colleague or check out the tools and resources at wvea.org. For online filing, consider Diigo, Google Drive, or another online file storage system to organize lesson plans and materials.

5) Build Relationships
Be friendly to the school secretary and the custodian. Network with your WVEA site representative and colleagues.

6) Check School Policy
If you plan to do anything new or unusual this year, make certain you mention it to your principal in advance. In the classroom, keep your personal views on religion and politics to yourself. Have plans on how to deal with parental concerns about content and curriculum.

7) Give Your Classroom Some Class
Check out Pinterest and other online sites for organizing and decorating ideas. Put your personality into decorating the classroom to help build relationships with your students.

8) Introduce Yourself
Create a video or slide show to help students get to know you. Consider a fun true/false quiz based on you. Sometimes a student may find something in common with a teacher and be able to strike up a relationship that could be a positive learning experience.

9) Establish The Rules
Establish class rules, consequences, and rewards right at the beginning and let the students have a role in establishing them. There should be no more than five rules, and they should be posted where all students can see them. Remember to revisit the rules throughout the year, especially after breaks, as students tend to forget.

10) Be Realistic
Don’t let your sincere concern for each child turn into a depressing experience through a fear of failure. You will not win every battle with every student. Sometimes it is months or years before our positive influence is felt.