This will be my thirteenth year teaching...I'm not sure if that makes me a veteran or maybe a somewhere in the middle. Anyway, here are some things I wish I'd known when I first started out:
- Find a Veteran Friend at Your School: I've taught at several schools, and each one has been very different-from attendance procedures to hallway rules to how much film to leave on the laminator! A veteran teacher can fill you in on all the little tidbits like where to turn in your lesson plans, if you turn off your computers every day, where to sit during an assembly, etc...
- Write, write, then write some more! Whether its in a notebook, on a whiteboard, or in a texting clicker, students need to write things down in every subject, every day. More areas of the brain are activated when you write than when speaking, listening, or viewing put together. (See my post on Rainbow Brains).
- It's not always your fault: I used to beat myself up every single time kids didn't do well on a test or understand a concept. What did I do wrong? Not do? What could I have done differently? While I still ask those same questions and adjust instruction as necessary, I now realize that the sole responsibility for a student learning isn't mine alone! The students and parents also play a role. This was a biggy for me. I'm not saying its okay to place blame, just to be realistic ( I was NOT those first few years).
- Fun doesn't always equal learning: I'm a huge believer in making learning fun, but 'fun' shouldn't be the focus of the lesson. Fun activities are great--as long as students are actively engaged in what you'd have them to learn. Projects, demos, and experiments are fabulous, but don't leave out the corresponding paper/pencil or other application activity. It usually takes both for the ideas to really sink in.
Well, that's it, folks! I hope these tips will help you avoid some of the pitfalls that snagged me as a newbie! Good luck with your first class!