I just completed my second year of teaching. In only two years of teaching I’ve learned an incredible amount of stuff as compared to when I graduated college. I want to lay out a few things that I’ve learned that might help new (or other newish) teachers as they embark into the wild world of education.
- Ask Questions: You will have questions. Ask them. If don’t know where something is located or are confused on a certain procedure, don’t spend hours trying to figure it out on your own. As a new teacher spare minutes are difficult to come by and the more time you can save yourself the better.
- Have a Reason for Everything you do: When someone says to you, “why do you do that in your class?” do your best to make sure you have an answer. From their, growth is easier. You can then reflect on your reasoning and evaluate whether that action is justified. In fact, lot’s of things are easier: Parent-teacher conferences, administrator evaluations/observations, and the constant questioning from the students.
- Reflect: You have to reflect to grow. And you need to keep growing. You need to keep learning. Try to find somebody with whom you can reflect and vent. Write to reflect. Even if it’s two sentences a day about how the lessons went.
- Own Your Professional Development: Your district provided PD might be great. Or, it might suck. Or, one year it might be great, and the next year it might suck. And even if it is great, you’re going to need more. Own your PD. Read books. Subscribe to blogs of great teachers. Read articles. And, most important, get on Twitter! You will join a community of great educators and get a glimpse into their brains. Almost every day of the week there is an #edchat that relates to education. These are jammed with great discussions on topics in education. It also puts you into an excellent professional learning community.
- Get that First Year Nailed Down: You probably won’t set the world on fire your first year. That’s okay. Take your first year to get comfortable with the content, stay consistent, stay organized, and lean on your colleagues a bit. Be careful with changing a lot of things, all at once, at the same time. It becomes too difficult to put a finger on what works and what doesn’t. You want to have a solid base that you can build on during your second and third year.
- Ask for Feedback: Get people in your room to observe you and give you feedback. This is one thing I wish I had more of in my first and second year. It is tough to see your class from within. Get feedback from those with more experience than you! Just like your students, your growth depends on consistent feedback.
- Listen to your Students: Do I need to add anything to this? Talk to them. Build relationships with them. Ask them for feedback. Do a student survey at regular intervals throughout the year. Look for general trends in their responses and adjust accordingly.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten some important advice but I think that covers the major bases. Remember, you are not in this alone. There are people that want to support you and ensure your success. If there is something you’d like to add, please feel free to put it in the comments!