Classrooms across the city are bustling with back-to-school excitement. But for teachers standing in front of the classroom for the first time, that excitement is bound to shift into moments of nervousness and doubt.
It’s no secret teaching is hard, but that first year especially can feel like a journey of extreme ups and downs. We wanted to reach out to our teacher shoppers for advice on how to survive your first year--many of which responded with words of wisdom and reminders for teachers at all stages of their career.
Amy Halsall, EI teacher K-4, Pleasant Run
Amy had three short and sweet bites of wisdom:
First, “Remember to breathe and be present at school,” she wrote. Second, “Have fun and love your job. I have been teaching for 13 years and it feels like I just started yesterday. The time has flown by because I love my job and have fun with the kids.”
And last but not least: “Don't sweat the small stuff (and most of it is small stuff).”
Leah Colville, Business Education Teacher, Walker Career Center
Leah touched on perhaps one of the most challenging things a teacher can do--not taking things too personally!
“Everyone told me that through training but I didn't understand it until I had my own class. Don't take it personal when kids think the lesson plan you stayed up until midnight perfecting is 'dumb' or 'too hard.' Don't take it personal when they say things like, 'this class is dumb,' 'I hate this class,' 'Why do we have to take this?' Don't focus on the complainers; watch and listen to all the the students and observe their actions sometimes more than their words. As the semester goes on you will begin to see their lights go on and then you can truly evaluate and decide on changes."
She also reminded teachers to take it one step at a time.
“Hold on and keeping moving forward. The first year of teacher was the most challenging year of my 30 year work life. Try to take it day by day, week by week and sometimes class period by class period. Remember to take a breath, assess and just start anew each class, each day and each week. You will make it!”
Francita McMichel, 6th Grade, Raymond Park Intermediate Academy
Francita offered an important reminder on remaining rooted in who you are and your why.
“My advice to any teacher, is to "be yourself." Often, our philosophy of education is transformed by politics and we lose sight of why we started teaching and our ‘love’ for teaching. I have learned to ‘be myself’ and not forget the basics; in spite of all the changes that we encounter every school year.”
Mary J. Watts, 1st Grade, James Russell Lowell IPS #51
Mary finds that enthusiasm is key to remaining positive and encouraging students.
“Be excited about what you do! If your students know that you are glad to be at school every day, they will have the same attitude about school,” she said.
“Children know when you genuinely care about them and if you really do they will work hard to do their best. Remember each day is a new start; for you and your students. Be excited to be a Teacher, you touch little lives daily.”
Melissa Johnson, 6th Grade, Riverside Elementary #44
Melissa reminds that speaking up when you need help can open lots of doors.
“The best advice I can give you is this…ASK FOR HELP FOR ANYONE AND EVERYBODY! People in your building will go above and beyond to help you BUT ONLY IF YOU ASK! If you don’t ask, we, veteran teachers, assume that you don’t need us. My pastor says it best, ‘People don’t have to be nice to you, but when they are, they love to help others.”
Thank you to all of the teachers who participated and shared their wonderful advice!
If you’d like to add to the conversation, we’d love to hear! Comment below.
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