Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Dear New Teacher, You're Doing Everything Wrong!


No, really, it is okay to make mistakes. You should be making mistakes. It is part of learning how to be a good teacher. If you truly believe that you know everything there is to know about teaching your very first year, then you need to get another job. Teaching is all about growing and learning from those mistakes. Mistakes that EVERY teacher has made. Yes that's right. EVERY teacher has made the same mistakes you're making. From, not running small group correctly, to speaking to parents the wrong way. ALL teachers go through this. 

So you imagined your first year of teaching being perfect and flawless. You imagined all those lives you would be changing. Your ideal classroom looked like this....

Everyone is getting along and engaged. The little ones are soaking up every lesson with smiles on their faces.  In reality, those kids really look like this ....
Oh my, tough crowd. Yes indeed, tough crowd. You'll get through it. :)
 My number one tip to give new teachers: Give all you can, but don't give all of yourself. Stop trying SOOO hard. You are going to burn out. Set a limit for yourself. For example, get out of school by 4pm everyday. Yes, even if you are not done for the day. And just because you leave at 4pm, doesn't mean you take things home with you. You will eventually learn how to manage your time and get all those papers graded. And whatever you don't get graded, let it be. It is okay! 
Make time for you! Go pamper yourself every few weeks. You deserve it. The better you feel, the better you will be able to teach.

My second tip: Get in good with your parents. No, not your actual parents. "Their parents". Gulp... dun dun DUN! This means, stay in constant communication with "them". Not just about the negative stuff, but about everything. I use Class Dojo to stay in touch with parents. I love the message feature. I'm able to quickly send positive notes to parents. The kids see that I do this, and it makes them proud when their parents write back and say that they are doing a great job. 

My third tip: Model what you preach. If you want them to walk in line with hands to their sides and bubbles in their mouths, then YOU walk like that. If you want the kids to read, then YOU read. If you want a kind classroom where everyone helps each other, then YOU show kindness to them and always be there to help. 

My fourth tip: Procedures, procedures, procedures. They are imperative. When I started teaching, I thought that the kids automatically knew how to wash their hands and drink from a water fountain. I never had procedures in place for that. And everyday, I was stopping fights from the water fountain and sink. EVERY move of their day needs a procedure set up!

My fifth tip: I know you don't want to get in trouble to administration and you want to stay on course with the curriculum guide, but sometimes life provides the BEST lessons that aren't in your curriculum guide and might interfere with math time. Take those opportunities when they present themselves. Those are the BEST lessons ever. Those are the lessons your kids will remember the most. For example, if your class sees a hawk flying and you see that spark in their eyes of them wanting to know more about hawks, take them to the media center right away and check out books on hawks. Let them explore the internet and watch videos on hawks. Let them learn what THEY want to learn about!

I hope this helps all those new teachers out there. I still consider myself a newbie. I guess, I always will.



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