Sunday, June 28, 2015

ROCK Your First Year Teaching

I'm truly excited to be linking up with my real teacher blogger friend and co-worker from my school, Lyssa from My Mommy Reads and her friend Chandra, from Teaching with Crayons and Curls to present this How to Rock Your 1st Year post.

It's so hard to think my first year teaching was 10 years ago...I mean I am still a thin, eager, 22 year old newbie, right?!?  Well about the only part of that statement that is still accurate is that I'm eager.  My first few years I would like to think I did many things right...but I also made many mistakes.  Here is my advice to new teachers:

REALLY Get to Know Your Kids:
This is the piece of advice that I would give any or veteran.  It sounds easy, but it truly takes time, energy, effort, and patience.  I think the relationship you form with your students is the most important foundation you can lay for your year.  Sure, read their former report cards, assess their reading level, collect academic data...but, that's not enough.  Find out what they love...and love those things too.  Find out what they hope for, what makes them scared, who their friends are, etc.  When you invest in a personal relationship with your students, and get to know them individually, they will learn to trust you and work hard for you in return.  One of the greatest compliments I get each year from most of my parents is that "you just get my kid" my book, that's a job well done!

COLLABORATE with Your Team:
Your co-workers can be your best weapon of defense when you face the pitfalls of your job.  Go to meetings, ask how they do things in their classroom, if possible, watch them teach a lesson.  Listen to what has worked for them and what has not.  Plan, plan, plan, with the people on your team.  Share your ideas with them, too!  Take time to foster those relationships...some days you'll spend more time with your school family than your real one!

Set High Expectations
I am seriously all about building relationships with your kids...but not at the point of being their "best friend" or a "door mat".  From the moment your students walk in, set clear, high expectations, for the kind of students and young people you want them to be.  Make sure they know you are there to help guide them and grow them...but that you are in charge.  Be clear about how you expect your students to work and treat others...and don't stray from maintaining that level of expectations throughout the year.

Check Your E-Mail at Night
Ok, so honestly, I only learned this lesson a few years ago...but it is at the top of my list for teacher don'ts.   DO NOT CHECK WORK E-MAIL AT NIGHT.  I'm serious!  Inevitably, you are going to open an e-mail at 6:30 PM, just when you should be sitting down for a glass of wine and gourmet meal your boyfriend/girlfriend/fiance/husband just cooked for you (you can wish),  and you will find an e-mail from an unhappy parent, coworker, etc. (I know you are aghast at the moment, because you couldn't possibly have made someone unhappy!).  Then, your evening will be turned into anger, disappointment, etc.  There is truly nothing that can't wait until the morning.  My evenings with my family are precious, and yours are, too!  When you leave school, leave your e-mail there, too!  I am clear about this with my parents, and they actually respect me more for it!

Be Afraid to Make Mistakes
You are going to make's ok.  I take great pride in my work, and I'm sure you do too, but you're going to make mistakes.  More your first year probably than your 10th, but I'm still making them.  Here's the thing...admit when you mess up and ask for help!  We don't expect our students to be we can't be either.   Be honest with your kids..."Hey guys, so yesterday, I thought that our math lesson was going to be #thecoolest, but it didn't go so well...I'm sorry, today, we're going to try again."  You're human, admit you made a mistake, learn from it, and move on.

Have Other Priorities
You no doubt chose this profession of teaching, because it is a passion.  You need to spend time at it, plan, work hard, etc.  That being said, have other priorities, and allow yourself to focus time, energy and love on those too.  If it is time for yourself--take it.  Time with your family--spend it.  Have distractions outside of school and don't feel guilty about having a life outside of school. 

Now, go rock your first year! 

Hootfully yours,

1 comment:

Stacy Ess said...

Don't check your email at night made me laugh! I still do it. I haven't learned. Great advice. Thank you!

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