Advice for a new teacher

I was recently asked for advice for a first year teacher. It seemed like a perfect thing to share in this space!

Teach the behaviors that you expect and be clear about them. I know this, and I am still guilty of not doing it at times. For example, I used to be incredibly frustrated at how messy the computer cart was in my classroom. The cords would be everywhere but hardly ever plugged into the computers. I’ve now taught and practiced the process, and I never have to deal with the headache of organizing it anymore.

Join Twitter. I know it sounds funny, but it is absolutely the best professional development that I get. There are so many educators out there that post regularly and post great things. Lesson ideas, positive messages, management tips and all kinds of other things. I don’t post very often, but that isn’t the important part. There are so many resources out there to take advantage of and stay connected to.

It isn’t the students. At least most of the time it isn’t. Sometimes I find myself (and my team) asking what is wrong with the students that makes them not do something or not enjoy something. I always try to remember to ask, “What am I going to do to fix this?” And when it IS the student, it is important to know that there is probably a reason for that, too.

Do what you expect your students to do. Actually doing the assignment in a desk with them can be a powerful tool. It is great modeling and it shows that we struggle with difficult things, too. This is especially true in writing if students only see polished examples and not the process. Not only is it a good example, but it makes you think about your assignments.

Give students a choice. We always hear, “When there is something he wants to do, he’ll do it!” and it is always a complaint. Use that to your advantage! If students feel in control of what they are learning and want to do it, just think of the possibilities for what they can accomplish!

It is important to have a reason for what we are doing, know what that reason is, and be able to express it! Let’s take advantage of our chances to communicate and help each other.