What a shock it is to realize after busting your hump to get your credential and masters degrees, you still aren't really prepared to teach. The first year of teaching was incredibly challenging for me. My assignment was technically only one prep of 7th grade math, but I was assigned to collaborate with the grade level special education teacher as our district had a long range plan of mainstreaming all high functioning special education students into the general education classes. Of the five periods I taught, the first two of the day were a combination of regular and special education students. Each period had about 42 students.
While this is not an ideal first year assignment, I feel, in retrospect, I did the best I could do with the preparation I had. I see these first two years as sort of a trial by fire. I learned quickly that I would never have enough time or resources to do everything that needs to be done. That I would always think I could have done " " better. These years, in large part, prepared me for the daily struggles of teaching.
What I know now, and I wish I knew then, is that I will always be my harshest critic. I will put more pressure on myself than anyone else. If I had it to do all over again, and thank God I don't have to, this is the advice I would have for myself:
- Pick a focus. You may want to do it all, but you can't.
- Adopt a Growth Mindset. You're learning and improving every day. Cut yourself some slack.
- Take breaks - Get out of your classroom! You will spend most of your time at school. Get to know your colleagues. They may become your friends. P2LNs RULE!!
- Be the best "You" you can be. The kids will know if you're faking it and your teaching will suffer for it.
- Let the kids do the work (aka, Group Work is AWESOME!!). Don't say something a kid can say!
- Tech is your friend. Use it to your advantage.
- Its okay to try and fail. And you're gonna fail. Just don't give up.
- Don't take it personally. Especially if you teach middle school =-P
- It's your 1st year! Get over yourself. Learn to laugh at yourself or you'll spend your time crying.
- It's a process. What you do this year you will most likely never do again.
- Seek out a mentor. Observe veteran teachers. Ask for their advice. They've been where you are and made it out the other side.
- Theory and practice are two different things. What you read in books rarely plays out the same in the classroom.
- You're the adult. Behave accordingly. AKA: Fighting with a teenager is like wrestling with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig enjoys it.