So you are about to start a career in teaching?
First of all, let me offer an appreciation for what you are about to do. You are now of an exclusive breed of humanity.The decision to teach is still the most meaningful of my professional life. Teaching is a craft. I am still discovering its joys, perhaps more now than ever.
Alas, your first year will be a shock to your system. Below is a hybrid collection of thoughts from the Twitterverse and me for first-year teachers.
I am indebted to Serena Fan, Tracey Carvell, Becky Blair, Benjamin Hartman, Britt Pumphrey, and aflyontheclassroomwall.com for their advice. Please follow them on Twitter. You will be glad you did.
1.Observe others. Ask lots of questions. Don’t be afraid to try.
2.Understand that teaching is mentally exhausting. When I got home from my first day of student teaching, I fell asleep immediately and did not wake up until the next morning. I was still in my work clothes. I worked as a railroad construction worker during the previous summer. Teaching is FAR more demanding. It gets easier as you learn the ropes.
3.Focus on one area you want to be really good at. You can’t do everything the first year.
4.As a public school teacher, there are an infinite number of obstacles keeping you from doing your job effectively. Ignore them all.
5. Save everything that works well. Next year will be here before you know it.
6.Keep a journal of each day. Force yourself to write ten minutes a day. Research the work of Donald Graves. He will make your life easier.
7.You will need lots of help. Seek assistance from anyone that appears competent. Everyone in a school can offer you advice. Listen, filter, and trust your instincts.
8.Be gentle with the custodians. They will save your hide somewhere along the line.
9.Remember you teach children, not test taking machines. Get to know each as an individual & honor each voice.
10.Plan, plan, and plan. Structure your lessons similarly each day.
11.Take responsibility for the climate of your class, focus on one area at a time to improve, seek wisdom from the best teachers.
12. Read the curriculum guides. Some pretty smart folks developed these, generally speaking. Let the guides be your mentors.
13.Be a learner & know you have more to do than you have time, so you’ll have to choose. Also attend happy hours.
14. Save your voice. I lost mine by for a week in October. Never shout. Never speak conventionally when a whisper will do.
15.Ask for help/find a mentor/partner/someone you trust.
16.Keep your political views to yourself. I told my students about my anti-war stance during the first Gulf War and got into a bit of hot water. (Does anyone use the term” hot water” anymore?)
17.Embrace technology as a tool, but choose wisely. Do not allow technology to interfere with the learning process.
18. Enjoy every moment. You will create memories for a lifetime.
Feel free to contact me if you need any advice. I have seen it all in the elementary education classroom.
Take care, do well and best of luck to you.