When I arrived in Noel, Missouri last fall I was entering my first year of being a teacher. Being young and inexperienced, I did not fully know what to expect from being an elementary school teacher. Since last August I have grown and matured as a person and a teacher, and in the process I have learned a TON. So, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to share with you what it is that I have learned in my first year of teaching.
How to Read the Crowd
Throughout my college education and teaching internship, I developed a mindset that it was all about me the teacher. Meaning that I was so worried about how I was being assessed by my superiors, that I lost touch with my audience when I delivered a lesson. A common theme that I have seen in a lot of teachers is the fact that they do not make their lessons student centered. They become so concerned with the delivery of the content that they are missing the most important aspect of teaching, and that is checking for student comprehension.
I fell like that this year I have developed immensely in regards to this aspect of teaching. In order to be effective you have to be able to let your audience drive your instruction.
I have a way I want things done.....sound familiar? While we as instructors like to plan "perfect" lessons, we have to remember that we are performing in front of a crowd the struggles remembering what they brought for lunch that day.
NO LESSON IS EVER PERFECT. THE LESSON YOU TEACH AND THE ONE YOU PLAN ARE ALWAYS DIFFERENT.At the beginning of the school year I felt like I was trying to control things way too much, and I would beat myself up over lessons and activities that did not go well. I had to get over this. While I always plan to have that elusive perfect lesson, I don't let it get to me and I do not kill myself over my mistakes any more. When things go wrong, simply work with it and try to better the situation.....and make sure you do it with a smile on your face!
Communication is the best medicine....I know no one has ever experienced workplace drama, but just in case you know someone who knows a friend that does.....they need to talk it out. Communicating is the best way to resolve any issue in the workplace.
In addition, communication is the pathway to building that much desired rapport with fellow teachers. I know that sounds obvious, but communication is one of the hardest skills to develop, so practice all you can and build those strong relationships with teachers and students.
As teachers we hold very high expectations for our students....sometimes they live up to those expectations, and sometimes they don't. Often we build our expectations too high for students, and become upset when they do not meet the expectation.
DON'T.Teachers can sometimes really loose touch and forget that we are dealing with children. They are not perfect and neither are we. While its fine to have lofty goals for our students, we set our students up for disappointment when a goal is not met and we scold them for not coming through. Our job as teachers is to simply pick them up after they fail, dust them off, and encourage them to try again.
Don't be Afraid of Technology
Grown adults everywhere are afraid of computers like it's a bad horror film and computers are trying to take over the world. Technology is our friend and is essential to living in our microwave society of today. We should not become overwhelmed by technology and simply give up before we start. We cannot expect to master computer skills the first time we attempt them, so jump in head first....the water feels fine :)
Listen to Your Students
You may be the only person that does. Below is an example of a answer that one of my students listed on their end of the year survey that really spoke to me:
I know my teacher cares about me as a person when he.While this may seem like a standard issue answer to such a question, it spoke volumes to me. I truly believe that teachers do not know enough about the students they are teaching. In order to build the respect that we all seek in a student teacher relationship, it is important to take interest their the lives of our students. It's that important.
- Listens to what I say
Lastly....Never Stop Learning
It's never too late to change your way of thinking, learning, or style. We do everything short of beg students to learn on a daily basis, but sadly some of us refuse to learn and grow as professional educators. We work in a learning environment, so why not soak up as much as you can? We owe it to our students.
In closing I would like to thank everyone that has made my first year of teaching something truly magical. Teachers, parents, bloggers, and of course students....thank you to everyone.