Congratulations! You are about to enter one of the world’s noblest (though oft under-appreciated) professions!

You’ve got the required degree and the certificate. A close friend or loved one has given you the expensive and professional-looking briefcase. Someone else half-jokingly gave you a pack of red pens.

You’re all set.

Well, no one can really be fully prepared for the unknown, and some things can be learned only through experience—no matter how many seasoned veterans share their hard-won insights with you.

Still, we really want your early classroom experiences to be astounding. Therefore, we offer the following teaching tips in the hope that at least some of them will help you have a pleasant start to the school year and your career.

1. Do locate the nearest faculty bathroom. This is a must when you’ve got limited time between classes and … (well, you know).

2. Don’t wait until the actual day of a crucial lesson, exam, or … whatever … to make the needed copies, download the needed files, reserve the needed technology, etc. Having contingency plans will come in handy in case of technical difficulties.

3. Do allow yourself twice as much time to grade student work as you think it will take. Create a grading process that works for you.

4. Don’t make a promise or a threat that you absolutely (100% guaranteed) can’t follow through on. Additionally, never impose an ultimatum, whether to a student, parent, colleague, or administrator.

5. Do overplan and overprepare. It’s always good to have extra material ready to go. Otherwise, those last five or ten minutes after you’ve run out of lesson activities or discussion topics will seem endless.

6. Don’t let your students smell your fear. You are the adult in your classroom. You are the vetted content expert and professional educator. (Think about it: you will be the only one in the classroom who has a high school diploma!) At the same time, let the students see your enthusiasm for the subject!

7. Do remember that your students are human beings with lives outside of school—and they are living through all the same (or very similar) joys, frustrations, anticipations, and fears that you did probably only a few short years ago.

8. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice or teaching ideas. Get to know your fellow department members well. Your co-workers are your best resource.

9. Do expect to make mistakes. Not everything will go according to plan, especially in your first year of teaching. Take any teaching blunders as valuable learning experiences.

10. Don’t take yourself or your students too seriously. School is not a playground, but it’s not a morgue either. It’s not where you and your students prepare for life; it’s where both of you live this chapter of your lives.