Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Dear First Year Teacher

It’s back to school time!
Today I’m going to share an oldie but goodie.  I wrote the following list for a class I took in June of 2005.  I think it’s just as relevant today as it was back then.

Have a productive year, my teacher friends. I’m thinking of you always.Help the new ones along the way. The Good Lord knows we need them!

Survival of the First Year of Teaching
These are the important things to remember to help you survive (yes, survive) your first year of teaching.  They’re listed in no specific order of importance, because they’re all important.  Please remember the following:

1.  When you arrive at your new school, introduce yourself and always greet the office staff, custodians and aides.  They’re invaluable to you.  They can make your life easier…or NOT!

2.  Save everything.  You never know when you’re going to be asked about some random report, memo, or assessment. Don’t get rid of anything until the final report card is in the mail!
3.   Be as organized as possible.

  •    Keep your files neat:

  • Have a file on each student.  In that file save notes from parents.  Also save your personal notes and observations of student progress- you’ll be glad you did at report card time!
    • Try to put things away after you’ve used them.  One can create a huge pile in a short amount of time.
5.  Have lesson plans ready each day, and be able to justify what it is that you’ve planned.

4.Dress for success. Dress for comfort. (HA! Try to make that work!)

6.  Take time to get to know the kids.  Talk with them at appropriate times— don’t let them
monopolize learning time with their stories.

7.  Don’t gossip or criticize.  But do vent (in an appropriate place) when necessary!
8.  Learn from your mistakes.  Think: How can I do that better?   What went well?  (and why?)  What went wrong?  (and why?)
9.   Give yourself a break.  Nobody is perfect.   Give yourself the time to master your craft.
10.  Be honest with your students and with their parents, but be tactful, too.
11.  Be in charge of what is happening in the classroom.  Don’t let students control what happens. Project confidence, even if you’re not! (That’s not to say to ignore the “teachable moment.”)
12.  Help student to learn to be responsible for their belongings and their actions.
13.  Talk to every person in the system that you think might be able to help you with a question or concern.
14.  Be flexible.  There are a lot of people who have a vested interest in these kids.  Everyone has to take turns!!!  
15.  When in doubt, ask yourself:  “Is what I’m asking of the child/ children  going to prepare them to be/make them a better citizen of  the world?”  Our ultimate goal is to give these people the skills and building blocks to become responsible, productive citizens!

And finally, from the late John Finnessey, Superintendent of Bettendorf Community Schools,  Number 16:  Be the kind of teacher who gains 20 years of experience in the first year of teaching….not the kind of teacher who teaches for 20 years, but has only one year of experience.  (circa Aug. 1996)

Until next time,
Be Good to Yourself,


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