What should you bring to the teaching profession as a teacher in training?
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You should bring a sense of humor, a passion for student learning, and flexibility. If you can laugh at yourself and with your students, then you will be much more successful getting past some of the silly things that we all do during our first years teaching. Similarly, a sense of humor allows students to see that you do not think that you are better than they are and that you enjoy your job.
Some teachers go into the profession because they have a passion for history, math, English, etc. However, I've observed that those teachers are often the least successful in reaching their students and inspiring them to learn. Instead, you need a passion for student learning. While, it's helpful to "love" what you are teaching, that should not be your primary focus. You should care more about who you are teaching.
Finally, you have to be flexible so that you can cope with unexpected visits from parents, last-minute meetings, and numerous schedule changes. These types of things can drive you crazy if you cannot adjust to them.
The previous answers give a great list of things to bring to the teaching, but something that is vital is subject matter knowledge and/or the knowledge of how to obtain knowledge. There is a difference between taking all of the requisite classes in order to obtain a teaching degree, and having the fund of knowledge to teach well. The most well-meaning and enthusiastic person who loves working with children still needs to have the the knowledge of research based strategies that work in order to bring the content and skills to the students. They need the knowledge to understand the data they gather from student assessment. They need the knowledge of the subject matter they teach. As a teacher you are never done learning, and that is true from the first day of student-teaching until the end of the career.
I tend to agree more with Posts 2 and 3. I think that any teacher has enough knowledge and enough ability to get more knowledge to stay ahead of the students. I think having those things is useful, but it is by no means as important as your commitment to your students and your desire to help them learn.
I know it's very trite, but the saying goes that people want to know how much you care before they care how much you know. I think that it is much easier to overcome deficits in knowledge than deficits in commitment and caring.
So I think that it is the caring and the commitment and the passion that you really need to bring if you want to be successful.
Depending on the age of your students, one thing many new teachers, young substitute teachers, or student-teachers do not realize is how much appearance matters. (I myself learned from the lack of this knowledge.) I usually encourage new teachers to dress far better than their students. There are those who will disagree, but observation and experience have taught me that respect begins at the first look.
My next advice is to come with a plan. Set achieveable goals (for yourself and your students) on a daily basis. I also encourage new teachers to have a plan for classroom management and discipline that is pro-active rather than reactive. Though experience is the best teacher in this area, it is better to come in with something than with nothing. Finally, come with an open-mind and be willing to learn, change, and grow.
First of all, energy. Lots of it.
Second, save every piece of paper anyone gives you that might serve as a lesson someday. It's hard to know how to file them, but if you substitute or observe someone, ask for copies. Things can be adapted across the curriculum.
Ask questions and write down what you learn.
When you start to take additional classes, try taking writing strategy classes, even if you're not an English teacher. Writing is important in every facet of education, and in these classes, with teachers that don't teach English, I have gotten some super ideas to adapt.
Save every piece of documentation given to you. Every note from parent, student, guidance counselor, principal. This may sound paranoid, but you NEVER know when someone is going to try to pull a fast one, and leave you holding the bag. This is especially important with special-needs students with what we call IEPs, which are like contracts between the school and the student and family regarding individualized instruction. Whatever is in those guidelines, follow them. Maintain close communication with the Special Ed. liaison for that student, and with parents. Print out a copy of everything you send so the computer doesn't "lose" it, and keep it somewhere that you can find it.
When working on the computer, stop every 5-10 minutes and save. And save. And save. And print out a hard copy that you keep for yourself, in case a computer or classroom file disappears.
Bring patience: for your students and yourself. The kids will test you. Being their buddy rather than their teacher will probably backfire, but as you get to know the kids, you can hold them accountable while still letting them know you care.
Don't expect that you will be perfect. You won't be, but your passion will count for a lot. Be kind to yourself.
Don't believe everything you hear. Go to the source, ask polite, leading questions, and try not to lose your temper. You NEVER know when you'll need something from someone: input on a student, coverage for a class. And kids? They love to tell you TALL tales about everything: not to be mean, but because they think it's funny.
Be your own critic. If you have done your very best, that's the most important thing—learn from your mistakes. After all, if you make a "mistake," once you learn from it, it becomes a life lesson. Don't let others beat you up. They won't need to if you're checking your progress and work ethic.
Apologize if necessary, even if it's to your class. Let them see that you are human. Don't argue with kids in front of the class. Don't meet with a student alone in a class, but in Guidance, out in the hall, etc.
Don't cut off more than you can chew: if you give an assignment, remember who has to grade it.
If you have your own supplies, lock them up or they will walk...could be a teacher or a student. (No purses, wallets or laptops unattended in school.)
Let your passion inspire your kids. Even those who don't seem like they care will take something positive from your class. And don't feel like you're to blame if you've tried really hard, over and over, and a student just cannot or will not "jump in." These guys bring a lot of heart ache with them, and sometimes school just doesn't cut it for them.
Whew. That's how I see it. Hope it helps. Carpe diem!
Very sound advice from the previous post!
Studies have shown that almost no one becomes a good teacher for five years; so, new teachers should not become discouraged. If they have been diligent students they have the knowledge that they need to gain the respect of their teachers. Remaining undaunted is much easier when one has this solid base in one's discipline.
There is much to be said, also, for the idealism of a teacher in training or new teacher. So many students over the years have voiced their complaints that older teachers do not care about them. Only the most motivated students will learn on their own if they do not feel that the teacher cares whether they learn or not. And, love, as we all know, makes up for many faults. Besides, this idealism helps to refuel that jaded teacher.
What great advice you have here so far. I would add just a few more:
Attend student events when you can. Remember that students have lives out of the classroom, and it's always interesting to see them doing something else (music, sports, dance, whatever). I really enjoy seeing students using their talents, and I'm always surprised by the "grace" it buys me because students--and parents--know I care.
Be consistent. This sounds so easy, but it is one of the most difficult things to do. We make so many decisions in a day, and many of them need to be made quickly. Be intentional and be consistent. Even if it sets a high standard and puts some restrictions on students that they do not want, they will appreciate your consistency.
The best thing I did as a first year teacher was to find a fantastic mentor - one who helped with lesson plans and explained what happened when one went flat. Be open to suggestion and criticism - it makes us all better teachers.
Come wanting to have a relationship with your students. The first thing I found out was that a student will not learn from someone they don't trust -- get to know your students. Learn their names - if they have a nickname -- know something about them individually. I usually write a small note in my first seating chart - "loves to talk" "loves to sing".. on track team" etc.
Be ready to spend your outside hours calling parents and creating lessons. This is not a eight hour-a-day job. It is a life choice. It requires the same dedication and hours that a Dr, lawyer, engineer might put in if not more.
Every post in this discussion gives you important ideas to really think about and use. As a former student teacher supervisor, the one thing I would add would be to bring a willingness to observe and change. Ask if you may go into several different classrooms and observe how the room is set up for student independence. Much of paper management is to have the room set up for students to be able to find missed work or turn in work without asking you. Ask veteran teachers who have shown a willingness to answer questions if you could observe them for an hour. You will find that many different styles and personalities reach students in different ways, but that all require a commitment to ALL of the students, even the difficult ones. If you love working with students, enjoy learning about their lives, love watching them light up when they understand a concept, and show that you still love to learn, you will be successful. Observation just gives you more chances to find ways that you can be a successful teacher.
I think that as a new teacher it is important to show what you are good at. Perhaps what you are good at someone else is terrible at, and vice versa, which will help bring balance to a teaching environment. Also, you should come up with new, innovative ways to teach, and share them with people so they can become better teachers as well.
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