Advice For Young Teachers
Teaching is the most noble of all professions. There would be no professions without teachers. No doctors, no lawyers, no bankers. Every career starts with a teacher. You have made the decision to help young people reach their full potential, and that is an awesome responsibility.
Like any job, your first few years in the classroom will be filled with plenty of challenges. You may feel frustration, fear and even anger. This will pass. As you get acclimated to your role and how to perform your duties you will gain poise and confidence.
Here are five tips that will help any young or first year teacher:
1. Be organized
Nothing trumps organization. Come into every school year with a plan for your classes and a strategy to execute it. Buy a planner and create an outline for how your entire year will unfold. Be sure you document the types of materials you will need to accomplish your curriculum goals. Ask the school if they can help you acquire any tools you may need. There will always be times when you have to adapt and change your schedule around, but it’s important to have a starting point.
Creating a well thought out lesson strategy for each year, semester, week and day will give you the confidence you need. You will have a peace of mind in knowing that you have a great plan. There is nothing worse for a teacher than not being ready for the day. The formula is pretty simple: organization creates confidence.
2. Set the right tone on the first day
You remember the first day of school don’t you? You and your friends talking about your new teachers. Who was the best teacher? Which teacher is going to be strict? Who was going to be the easy teacher? What class were you excited about? What class were you dreading?
What kind of teacher are you going to be?
The first day of school is the most critical day of the school year. Make no mistake, your students will be talking about you. What are they going to say? The first day of school is your opportunity to set the tone. Your students need to know that there will be discipline and structure in your classroom. They need to know that there will be rules and procedures. I strongly recommend that you establish classroom rules and display them in a place everyone can see. You don’t need many rules for them to be effective. In fact, you can make the argument that too many rules can be counter productive. Keep it simple and make sure you are consistent with the enforcement of your rules.
3. Use technology to your advantage
There is no denying the fact that computers, cell phones, the Internet and games are very much apart of every day life. If you want to know something, what do you do? You Google it. The simple reality is that technology is ever growing and student’s attention spans are shrinking. Don’t fight technology. You will not win. Choose to embrace technology. Find creative ways to incorporate technology into your lessons. You will keep your students attention longer and find they are more likely to do technology based assignments.
4. Make lessons fun
Nobody likes a boring teacher who likes to hear their own voice. A good lesson plan should take twice as long to prepare for than it takes to execute. Search for ways to keep things light and interesting. Use humor. A classroom is much more likely to remain focused if they know that something funny may happen at any time. From time to time it’s productive to do an exercise that has nothing to do with your subject. Something quick and fun that will lighten the mood. It does not have to be all business all the time. Let your students know that it’s OK to feel comfortable in your classroom while maintaining discipline and order. It can be a bit of a difficult tight rope walk. With practice and experience, you can achieve it.
5. Take interest in your students interests
There is an old saying: “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Your student’s could care less about how many college degrees you have. They don’t care what your IQ is or how much you know. They won’t truly buy into your message until they know that you genuinely care about them. It does not take much to achieve this. You can greet your students at the door. Ask them how their game or recital went. If you know that they are going through a difficult time with something, pull them aside and ask them if they are OK. If you know a student is really into space exploration and you find a cool article of NASA print it out and give them a copy. This is not brain surgery. It’s the extra effort that separates good teachers from great ones.
Which are you going to be?