I began my teaching career in 1998. I was fresh out of college and ready to tackle the world. I was hired in a year round school, which meant that I would have exactly one weekend to get my room together. So I went in, got the bulletin boards up and beautiful looking (I still remember them...black paper with purple and white borders), made the nametags, had all of the lessons ready....I was SURE things would be perfect, and that I was a natural born teacher.
I was wrong.
The kids in my 4/5 split were just not listening to me! I had these great lessons that they weren't hearing because they were so busy talking with each other. The kids were a terror to me in the room and even worse out on the yard. They got up whenever they wanted to, maybe did their homework, turned some stuff in. I literally just didn't know what to do with them. I was a mess....and I had HAD IT!
After 5 weeks of this TORTURE, I marched myself into the coordinators office, sat at her desk and said, "If this is teaching, I am done." She smiled, looked at me and said, "I have been waiting for you to come in and ask for help."
You see, I was too proud, too confident of my own abilities, to ask anyone for help. But when I finally did, it changed EVERYTHING. My coordinator came into my room every day for the next week. She stood up there, teaching my students, while I sat in the back and watched. She made the students think that SHE was learning from ME and needed them to help her. All the while, she was showing me the basics of classroom management that I was missing. She showed me the tricks of the trade that I honestly didn't learn during student teaching. She transformed my class, and me....and I am forever grateful for her help. After that experience, things for me soared. But without her help, I wouldn't be here typing to you today.
So, as the new year is about to begin, here is some advice that I, as the veteran teacher who used to think she knew it all, have for all of the new teachers ready to tackle their first class in the next few weeks.
1. Ask for help. You do not know it all....and that is OK!! Let those who have been around the block a few times impart their wisdom...and take it.
2. Remember that teaching is hard. No, it isn't rocket science, but it is stressful and emotional and time consuming. You will be giving 100% of your attention to 100% of the people in your room 100% of the time. It is something you just can't prepare for (though you do try your best!)
3. Don't compare yourself to others. Remember that the people who are helping you, the blogs you are reading, and the people you are getting lessons/advice from are all (for the most part) veteran teachers. When they were starting out, they weren't the experts they seem to be now. (as is evidenced by my story above)
4. Don't beat yourself up if things don't go as planned. Because they won't.
5. Be flexible. Your classroom is a living, breathing, ever-changing entity. Have a plan, but go with the flow. Don't set anything in stone because it will inevitably change (something ALWAYS comes up in the world of a teacher!)
Now, it is your turn. What advice do you have for new teachers? There are two ways you can help.
1. If you have a blog, grab the button above, link back to this post (I will delete any posts that do not link back) and share your ideas on your blog.
2. If you do not have a blog, post some of your words of wisdom in the comments below.