The Advice I Would Give Myself as a First-year Teacher
Teaching can be a rewarding career, but, it’s full of ups and downs. Sometimes, it’ll seem as though there are more negative than good points too. It’s a tough career, and you will do things wrong. That doesn’t make you an awful teacher, it makes you human.
In ten years, you’ll look back and wish you could do it all over again. So, what advice should first-year teachers know?
Things Do Improve in Time
Let’s be honest, whether you work in a poverty-stricken school district or a private boarding school, things will seem dire at first. You are going to have days where you wished you never left the house and other times when you don’t want the day to end. It’s a bumpy road, regardless of how confident you are.
It’s important to understand that most first-year teachers feel inadequate and it’s no shame if you do. You’re probably ready to quit after the second day, but it does get better, and when it does, you’ll love your job.
Don’t Try to be a Perfect Teacher
Students will fail. Students will succeed. Failure is not entirely on your shoulders. Sometimes, a student doesn’t want to listen and while you can do your best to push them to succeed, it doesn’t always work. That doesn’t mean you’ve failed as a teacher.
It isn’t the time to beat yourself up when a student fails. Instead, find out what’s gone wrong and think of ways you can help them in the future. You aren’t perfect – no teacher is – so don’t try to be.
Get Clued Up on the Culture
Schools operate in a very specific manner. You have the teacher’s pets, gossipers, and influencers, and it’s important to understand the school’s culture. It’s essential to know the written and unwritten rules because it’s like playing politics. There are the big players and the people you want to keep on your side.
It’s strange to say, but true in many schools.
Ask for Help
Don’t believe you have to know everything as a teacher. You might believe you have everything under control, but it’s easy to become overwhelmed. So, be humble and ask for help. When an experienced educator shares some advice, listen to it, and learn from it. You need to be a team player to successfully collaborate with other teachers.
Focus on your Students
It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to be everyone’s friend, after all, no one wants to be known as the villain of the peace. Unfortunately, if you do not focus your attention on your students, they will fail. For instance, when you recognize a student needs extra support, you must act before they slip further behind. While you might not want to single the student out, it’s for their own good.
You can quietly speak to them after class and find out why they aren’t progressing as the others. If they need extra tutoring, then look at the options. This makes you a good and respected teacher.
Take the Criticism on the Chin
Let’s say a student has failed their last three assignments. You write home to the parents and ask them for an informal meeting. Unfortunately, the parents blame you, and they complain to the principal. It isn’t nice but you can’t take it personally. The parents are frustrated and angry and look for someone to blame. Typically, the principal will calm the situation and the parents will realize their child didn’t do enough.
You can’t, however, hold a grudge against the child or their parents. Sometimes, you need to take it on the chin. It happens throughout your career and often, parents will realize they’ve made a mistake. So, when it happens, move on.
Follow your Mentor’s Advice
Most school districts assign mentors to first-year teachers. These are experienced teachers with a lot of wisdom and knowledge to share. You should listen to them because they can give you good, honest advice that’ll see you through the next ten years.
Nip Problems in the Bud
If you are proactive, you can prevent trouble. You need to react correctly when it comes to student or faculty issues. For example, when a child starts to be disruptive in class, you need to address it immediately.
If you allow one student to act out with no consequence, others will do the same. You need to be fair with each student and nip problems in the bud quickly.
Be a Great Teacher
First-year teachers have hectic schedules and a lot of stress, but it can have its rewards too. When a student excels and succeeds, you get joy knowing you were a part of their journey. You’ll love those days and loathe yourself when children fail; you can’t be perfect, but you can try your best. Knowing a few pieces of advice might prepare you for life as a first-year teacher.