Think back to your first year in the classroom. Remember that year? My favorite memory is my classroom making butter during Thanksgiving time. To this day, I can’t look at butter without the image of one of my little sweeties shaking the coffee can so violently that the lid flew off and I watched in slow motion as cream and marbles landed all over the children’s hair, clothes, my curtains, and the back computer.
Ahh….to be a first year teacher again.
As many university students begin their interviews for the next school year, Christi Fultz from Ms. Fultz’s Corner, is hosting a linky party: My Advice To You! I’ve linked up with her to share some advice that I can hopefully pass along to the next butter-making-risk taking-teacher.
#1. “You will never have it all together.” The day in your teaching career that you tell yourself “I’ve got this.” is a day I hope you never have. You will always be changing, learning, altering, and re-assessing yourself as a teacher. Education is different from day to day, year to year. You will learn a lot during your first year of teaching. You will learn a lot during your 5th year and 26th year. I learned a lot this afternoon. Teachers help children learn. Children help teachers learn.
#2. “It’s OK to laugh AT your kids” (not in front of them, of course.) Face it. Kids are funny. They will say funny things, do funny things, and make you laugh all day if you let them. If you can’t lighten up at school, you are in the wrong career. I love to joke with my students. I think they deserve to see me as a real person and not someone who simply gives them a textbook education. Over the year, this is how your classroom will grow into a family. You will have little inside jokes and funny stories and connections to share together. What those jokes and connections are will vary from year to year – but they will be part of the glue that holds yours classroom together.
#3. The custodian is your best friend. One of my college professors told me this during our first education class. Don’t forget about them. They are often the backbone of what makes your school run smoothly. Take the time to get to know them and say good morning and good bye. They are just as much your co-workers as the teacher across the hall.
#4. You can only control what happens at school and in your classroom. You will learn about some difficult, sad situations in your students’ lives. It will break your heart at times. You don’t have much control over what happens to your students at home, but you DO have control over how safe and happy they feel during the school day.
Last week, I had a student with a birthday. That morning, she walked in and I cheerfully said “Happy Birthday!!” She had no clue it was her birthday. No one had told her happy birthday that morning at home. I turned myself around and pretended to put homework into a pile while I collected myself….I couldn’t change what happened that morning. So I did what any teacher would have done. I made a BIG deal about her birthday all day long. We sang to her (twice), we called her the Birthday Girl all day, we treated her like a little princess in our classroom. She had a great day at school. Those are the moments we do have control over. Those are the moments when we are touching the lives of children, even if they don’t realize it.
#5.Have a well organized, filled sub binder for emergencies. During my second year of teaching, I knew I was going to be out the next day. The kids were going to have a sub. One of my little firsties raised his hand. “Is it going to be Mrs. V?” Me: “I have no idea…why?” “Because she’s the only sub around here who actually knows what she’s doing.” 🙂 Sometimes you will win with subs and sometimes you won’t. If you’re prepared, it can only help.
Thank you SO much for letting me share a little of my teaching advice with you! If you are a new teacher, remember that what you are doing is worth it and you will be fabulous! 🙂