New Teachers: Try EVERYTHING
I’m preparing to meet with some new teachers in my department, and I just came across this amazing resource from @itsssnix, which I highly recommend and will be utilizing myself, but that’s another post for another day.
Her post and my upcoming meeting prompted me to think about what I should say to my colleagues tomorrow. One is a first-year teacher, and two are second-year teachers. I’m not that much more experienced than them, but I feel like year three, which I just completed, is where a teacher really finds the roots of their style. Where things really start to solidify and stick and grow.
My first semester as a teacher was just survival. My second was experimental. I tried all kinds of strategies and procedures and techniques.
My first semester as a second-year teacher was better, but I didn’t think I needed to be as strict about procedures and rules as Past Me and told Future Me to be. And I was wrong.
But last year. Last year I finally got it. I was firm, but friendly. I had high expectations and welcomed all my students to reach them. It wasn’t a perfect year by any stretch, but the experience helped with the day-to-day management, and collaboration helped refine the teaching practices. And I still experimented with stuff, because that’s what teachers do.
So tomorrow, when I meet with these teachers, my main advice will be two-fold: follow through and try everything.
Follow through with all instructions for behavior and expectations. And don’t say anything you will not actually follow.
Try every kind of vocabulary activity, reading strategy, writing process you can find. Just see what works for you and for your students.
You’re going to have a very long mental list of all the things you are doing wrong (according to you) and all the things you want to start doing. And since that list will be so long, you will have to prioritize. And you’ll check things off this year, and then a few more things off next year, and so on. Don’t burn yourself out trying to get everything perfect this year. No year is ever perfect.
Teaching can be all-consuming during those first two years, and that is when anxiety can start (for me it had never been a problem until that first year) or peak (for others already battling anxiety, it can get worse), and self-care is essential. You actually will have 15 minutes before bed to read. Make that time. Drink your tea. Or wine. I love wine. And beer. Mmmm beer.
Sorry, got distracted there.
Watch your favorite show. Hang out with your dog. Or that person you share a home with who may have forgotten your name since they never see you.
Make time for you. Don’t be a martyr. No one is still here because they go into their room with the Freedom Writers mentality. We’re here because we go in with realistic expectations of ourselves and we know that it’ll all get done eventually, or that June will come and even if it’s not done, it’s over. And if it wasn’t done by June, it probably wasn’t that important to begin with, and should probably be cut out next year.
You’ll make it. And so will your students.
Just follow through, and try everything.