Friday, August 31, 2012

Advice for the Newbie Teacher

  september_is_here This fall I will begin my classroom observations, and next year I will begin my Field Experience with my mentor teacher. Thinking about this leads me to wonder what advice others can offer for someone changing careers from Finance into Education. Here are some solid pieces of advice I will keep in mind when I reach this exciting part of my career changing adventure:  

Valerie Strauss, from the Washington Post, highlights author and consultant Nancy Flanagan's 10 tips/thoughts for new educators.

1. Listen to advice offered by others, but remember to trust your gut instincts. 2. Thinking about your wearing your fashionable clothing? Think again, try to be neat, professional, and comfortable. 3. Don't forget while you are teaching, you are the adult in the room. 4. Do some observations on how other teachers work their magic in their classrooms. 5. Make nice with the custodians, have your student's clean up at the end of the day. 6. It's nice the have classroom themes and super cute decor, but make sure your teaching style reaches and makes an impression on your audience. 7. Teacher stores are great, but they best and cheapest way to acquire what you are looking for is a DIY item. 8. Set aside time for preparation. What would teaching look like without preparation? 9. Don't let quarrels with students get to you, undoubtedly most students want to be on your 'good side.' Make the most of it by putting things in the past and giving them a chance. 10. You are not "PERFECT". It's expected that mistakes will be made. If you need help or advice, just ask. A fellow blogger (Teaching in Room 6) writes about her first year of teaching. Below is an excerpt where she offers 5 pieces of advice. To read her whole store click –> here… “~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!)”
I then thought to ask my fellow group members on what advice they could offer me and this is what they had to say: “I answer as a former Long Islander and a person who's given a lot of thought to your question. The "progressive education" ideas you've learned in ed school say that "character" is more important than the transfer of valuable knowledge in schools. The opposite is actually true. The secret to reform in education is to purposefulfill FLUENY into the mastery of the curriculum. In K-1 this means the ability to write the alphabet at a minimum rate of 40 letters per minute (which will result in automatic literacy; Montessori was right.) In second-grade, kids should learn to give answers to simple addition facts (like 6 + 8 = 14) at the same rate of at least 40 per minute. This will prevent future problems in math and science. And so on with the subject matter of whatever you teach. Does a short hose or a long hose present more resistance to the flow of water? A physics student shouldn't hesitate. The answer should be immediate, effortless and correct.” ~Bob Rose, Independent Education Management Professional “I would advise all novice educators to maintain a level of professionalism with all stakeholders; develop structure and maintain consistency; exercise fairness and respect; and know your subject. Also, connect with seasoned educators for support and guidance. Go in knowing that you have an opportunity to mold the future and along the way you will become molded. You learn more about yourself and education once you are hired as a teacher. Unfortunately, no college course prepares you for what you will face once inside of the classroom.” ~a Secondary Mathematics Teacher “I think it is MOST important to realize that each of your students is unique and important. Be determined to like--or even love--each one. Keep reconnnecting and reminding yourself of why you chose to become a teacher. Your reasons are valid. Enjoy and appreciate them in the midst of the things you DIDN'T bargain for.” ~another fellow educator “Let nothing distract you from adding insight to your students' lives. I heard from a student twenty years after she was in my sophomore English class. She said she hated writing in her journal every day (it was a requirement; they could write anything and I would only read it with permission). she also said the journal saved her sanity and got her through a tough adolescence. She's now a blues singer, and a good one, in Richmond, VA.
Don't expect gratitude on the spot.
Have fun!” ~Mac Bogert, President at Allen Zabriskie Associates (
“During my first year of teaching, my wonderful mentor teacher taught me to be "firm but warm" with my students. In other words, make it very clear that your classroom is a place to learn, not play around. At the same time, when a student has a question or approaches you with a problem, go the extra mile to help that child to feel accepted and know that you are there to help. At the beginning of the year, students are trying to "figure you out". They may not trust you at first, and they will try to push the boundaries. If you stick to this philosophy, you will build a sound rapport with them that leads to a positive learning environment. Good luck!” ~Fifth Grade Language Arts Teacher These are just a few pieces of advice that these social networking educators have given me, and I am so thankful to them for sharing! I was also given a link to a wonderful video created by a very enthusiastic educator, Faezeh Parkes, on Classroom Management:
Do you have any additional advice you would like to share?

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