Saturday, August 4, 2012

Some Simple Advice For New Teachers

You've finally made it, you finished college, and (the vast majority of you) student teaching, and now you have your first teaching job. There's really nothing quite like the first time you walk into a classroom and know that it is yours, you can do what you want with it. The excitement and wide-eyed wonder that comes with those initial meetings, either district meetings or hopefully a first year teacher program if your district does one. The excitement quickly gives way to fear and anxiety as you begin to realize that you no longer have a safety net, you are responsible for the educations of your students, and you will be held accountable and expected to step up from day one.

The first year of teaching is very eye opening, and unforgiving in many ways. It's the year of "things they don't teach you in college," including dealing with difficult (or completely uncaring) parents, helpful and supportive staff friends, or the opposite, and challenges to implementing the curriculum within the constraints set forth by the many stake holders that influence the classroom.

But fear not, it'll be fine. Just accept that your first year will be challenging, difficult, and humbling. Many new teachers walk in thinking that their education is cutting edge, and they'll show those old washed up, dinosaur teachers a thing or two. The quicker you lose that attitude, the better. Those dinosaur teachers can be the best thing that ever happened to you, they've been around and seen it all. Seek them out, make them your friends, and things will get much better.

Hopefully you have a supportive principal, but who knows if you do or not. If you do, seek them out for advice, but don't become needy, seeking them out daily.

Become friends with the custodians and secretaries. In fact, have a positive attitude and a smile on your face, and make friends with as many people as you can.You'd be surprised how much easier your job can be on a daily basis if you're in good with the custodians, secretaries, the art teachers, librarian, PE coach, etc etc etc. Nobody likes a complainer, or a gossip, so stay away from it. I've had a few years in my career when it's been easy to get sucked into those negative behaviors, and it's toxic. My best advice is to go in to work every day with a smile on your face, even if you don't mean it. Tell yourself that you're going to have a good day, and stay positive. The second you get negative, everyone around you, especially your students, know that you have.

During that first year, you'll have ups and downs. The euphoria over having your own classroom will carry you for awhile. Don't fret when you hit the grind and start getting down on yourself, saying that you can't do it, because you can. Make friends in your building, and have a support system you can call on.

Once that first year comes to a close, you've just finished the hardest year of your career, IT WILL GET EASIER. The field of education needs its professionals to stay around for a long time. Consistency is key. You don't have to change jobs or buildings every two years, I've been in the same school for eight years now (some who have been in one place longer would laugh at a mere eight years), and I hope to stay at least eight more. Don't be afraid to stay, you'll become part of a community.

Have fun, teaching is the greatest job in the world. We don't deal with boredom sitting behind a desk. We don't deal with a lot of monotonous tasks, and every day is something new and challenging. Anybody who makes fun of you for only working 180-185 days a year is an idiot, remember that. They probably work at one of those boring desk jobs where they do less work in a month than you do in an hour. Even if they get paid more, it doesn't matter. You didn't go in to teaching to make big bucks, you went into it to make a difference, and you are making a difference.

Congratulations on joining the field. We need more people like you out there doing this work.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments on this blog will be moderated, please stay on topic and refrain from using profanity. Spam will simply be ignored.