Wednesday, May 23, 2018

So it's your first year of teaching...

So your first year of teaching is coming up. You have graduated college with a degree in education yet you have a ton more to learn about teaching in your first year. And your second year. And your third year. And every other year for the rest of your teaching or education career. You are now a professional educator, yet it is such a unique profession because it is difficult to learn certain things in college. There is an "on the job training" aspect to teaching.  Never stop learning. Be a life-long learner.
So now that you have your first job, the real work begins. The actual work of teaching students and helping them learn. Helping them reach their full potential. You are no longer just trying to pass student teaching, or get high scores on lesson plan rubrics. You are no longer trying to plan awesome lessons to impress your university supervisor during an observation. Now it is the real deal. It is time to put into action what you've learned and heard the last few years.

Here are some tips for you as you enter your teaching career:
1. Begin building relationships with your students on day one. And never stop until you retire in 35 years.

2. Don't try to be friends with the students.

3. Attend extra-curricular events to engage students in other environments. They notice and it means a lot to them to see you at their activities.

4. Read Teach Like a Pirate every August.

5. Reflect constantly. Every day. After everything you do. "What you did" - "What happened" - "How did it go" - "good/bad and why" - "What you will do differently next time."

6. Make sure your priorities are in order each day when you enter the building: You are not there to just socialize with your colleagues. The #1 reason you are there is for the students so rather than spending your whole prep period in the lounge talking about the weekend, spend your time creating a new and engaging activity for your students.

7. Stay out of the "good old boys" club.

8. Find passionate teachers that care about kids and have a growth mindset. Surround yourself with these teachers. Ask them questions (but don't be needy or annoying). Stay away from the teachers who have bad attitudes and a fixed mindset.

9.  Get to know the support staff of the school: Secretary, custodians, the tech person and the food service workers. They may give you an extra chicken nugget on those days!

10. Don't feel like you have to teach the way the previous teacher did. Find your own style. It may take a few years, but eventually, you will find your own unique style and what you are good at.

11. Engage on Twitter. It is a great place to expand your resources and grow professionally.

12. Stay in contact with your professors for ideas, help, questions, to vent, etc. They are here to continue to help you and want to do so.

13. Don't do worksheets every day.

14. Keep a balance between your school life and your social/personal life. Don't let the profession overwhelm you and burn you out the first year. True, it will be busy, but a healthy balance will keep you healthy and sharp.

15. Don't use technology just for the sake of using technology. The best way to do something is NOT always with technology. Only use technology when it improves the learning, makes the learning/work more efficient/effective and/or allows you to do things that otherwise would not be possible.

Good luck as you embark on your teaching adventure. It's quite a ride!

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