If you were to tell a first year teacher one critical point of advice. What would it be?
First, a colleague of mine gave me this advice that I would consider critical "Just be yourself". I found that as I go through my evolution there's many ideas that bombard us but your essence remains intact. And then as you continue in your professional learning, take pictures of how you're doing things in your classroom (or of how other people do things in their classroom) and pictures of student work samples. These will serve you well as you reflect on your practices later. You're going to have a steep learning curve. Have fun and just remain calm and carry on.
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Be organized, stay organized, and since I teach English Literature, I always ask myself, "What would Atticus Finch do in this situation?" You can't go wrong with that.
Don't be afraid or reluctant to ask for help!
Embrace every piece of positive feedback you get. If you get it in email form, print it out. If a student writes you a thank you note, put it in a binder. If a colleague writes you a note, save it. After 12 years of teaching, I still add to my binder yearly, and if you ever feel overwhelmed, just take it out and it will remind you why education is the best profession in the world. Besides that, don't be afraid to rely on your mentor, and never eat lunch alone in your room. Great relationships happen in the teacher's room. Make it a point to be there, no matter how busy you are.
Do everything with love and respect your students. If you don't like your job then just quit it. Don't make people around you suffer.
Understand that your teaching career will evolve every year. Do not be afraid to try new things. Some you will love, others you will hate. The things that work best with students will stick with you. And as already stated - Do not be afraid to ask colleagues and administration for advice or help!
Concentrate more on the individuals than on the curriculum to begin the year. Let them see your enthusiasm and genuine care!
Understand that you are not alone. Other teachers are willing and able to help and share stories. Also, don't say anything you won't can't stand behind...the kids will play you like a fiddle. :) P.S. I hope you love it and them.
Connect with teachers that you respect and feel safe with. Connect early and often. Don't limit yourself to connecting within the building either! Seek out connection and support in digital communities such as here, www.teachingquality.org, and Twitter. This support and their ideas will keep you going and give you hope on the roughest days. You will need to hear from someone who has done this before and found his/her way out of the confusion. You will need tried-and-true strategies. Find your place or places of connection, and rely on them for the support and advice you will need to feel successful in your first year.
Find a mentor that is near you and ask as many questions as possible. You do not have to reinvent the wheel, and there is going to be great teachers around you who would love to help. Also, do not take anything personal. Your students will have good days and bad days, and you just have to sift through it to figure out how to connect to them. You have entered a profession that can be the most rewarding profession ever because you will see kids grow and learn every day. You will make a difference every day, so try to make it a positive one.
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