I'm really excited to be a part of this link up for first year teachers. I don't personally have a lot of experience, but I consider the experience I do have to be worth something. I teach (like most of us) at a Title I school where my students have so many issues it is like drawing straws to decide on which issue to begin with for the day. The two years that I have been a homeroom teacher have taught me about the struggle many American's are faced with daily. So here's my best advise!
- Come Prepared! At our school we have a saying for the students and one part of our motto is to come prepared. That being said students and teachers alike must come prepared. Especially in teaching, prepare yourself and gird your loins. In order to execute lessons to students you MUST prepare ahead of time. Preparing for lessons make look different for different people and for different subjects. You will have to do some soul searching to figure out what exactly works for you and your personality. In the state of Georgia where I teach we are under strict scrutiny from the state for our observations. Our team has found the more we prep the better we are when they "pop in" to complete our many, many observations. I prepare by studying ahead, completing all lesson plans in a timely fashion, posting the standard being taught, having a multitude of resources, making copies, etc.
- Be Consistent with Rules! Consistency is the key. The only problem is consistency takes time, patience, and caffeine lots of it. If you haven't read Ron Clark's Essential 55 I HIGHLY suggest it. Ron comes across as a drill sergeant, but boy do his methods work. They are like pure gold. Not all of the rules apply to my specific classroom, but there are some that are on point! I usually begin the year with the top ten rules for the classroom and we go from there. We discuss consequences and run with it. I treat all of the students the same and don't back down (with the kids or a crazy parent). You will have a parent that will give you a hard time, usually there is one a year that is a little cray cray (that's the gird your loins part). It's not the kids that are the problem, it's more than likely their adult counterpart. Stay firm in your ideals and beliefs for your classroom.
- Keep in Contact with Parents: I have learned this one the hard way. See teaching in a school that there are children that come from pitiful home lives means they are a product of their environment. In saying that, there parents more often than not do not want to be bothered by my students making what I call collect calls home to discuss their behavior issues for the day. This goes back to my discipline procedures, if a student does something I deem as serious they call home in front of their peers are discuss their behavior with their parents. Call me mean or what have you, but it works like a charm. There have been times when I didn't have time to let the kids make the dreaded phone calls because teaching was more important, those times I make the kids write notes home and I sign the bottom of the note and ask them to bring them back to following day with a parent signature.
- Don't get burned out: Listen here, teachers normally quit in the first five years because of the burn out. Your first year will more than likely be your hardest. That being said if you survive it you can survive anything. You will look back at those years and laugh and say I don't know that those kids learned anything (yes that may be true), but the lessons those kids teach you will be unforgettable. Leave everyday at a decent time. Do not bring work home with you (yes other teachers will tell you different). Make sure you don't stress over the small stuff. Enjoy the year, you'll look back on it and think wow who left me responsible for those kids (oh yeah that would be the parents. administration, and state board of education).
- Don't worry the small stuff: There may or may not be unnecessary drama at your school the first year, whether it be with a student, a parent, a teacher, or an administrator. The day will go on and the beauty of teaching is you get a fresh start everyday. Praise the lord. If it wasn't for the teachers would get burned out in the first month.
My mom always told me this quote when I was little and I still remember it until this day and somethings quote it for my students. It goes a little something like this:
Once a job has first begun,
never leave it till its done,
though the task be great or small,
do it well or not at all.