Making the transition from student to teacher is harder than it looks, and even battle-tested educators can benefit from getting a head start on the upcoming school year. If you’re just starting your first year of teaching, check out these five tips to help make your classroom debut a success.

Establish expectations early

Students work best when they know the lay of the land. Establishing routines and classroom norms early gives learners a framework to follow. Lisa Packard, a teacher from Mississippi, recommends showing students “exactly what you want on their papers and homework.” The clearer your expectations, the easier time students will have following them.

Cultivate mentorship relationships

Every school is a unique ecosystem, so connecting with experienced teachers can help you avoid unique logistical concerns specific to your teaching environment. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice on lesson planning, managing classroom dynamics, and general support during your debut teaching year.

Start active (and have a backup plan)

Chalkboard lectures and podium-style speeches won’t work well for this generation of learners. As Jean Federico, a first-year teacher, puts it, “a class full of bored kids won’t all sit quietly for ten minutes waiting for you to figure out what is next.” Make sure you have a few back-up assignments to roll out when you find yourself with gaps in your lesson plans.

Create your own organizational system

Paperwork comes fast and hard, so make sure you have an organizational system that works for you, whether it’s spreadsheets, color-coded binders, or old-school paper filing systems. Establishing best practices for documentation saves time and helps you focus on the reason you wanted to become a teacher in the first place.

Respect first, fun later

Everyone wants to be liked, but earning respect first ensures that students won’t get into a pattern of testing your professional boundaries. Having a lax attitude may be fun at first, but it’ll make it more difficult to settle things down in the classroom when it’s time to learn. If you start the year off on the right foot, you’ll thank yourself later.