I recently overheard someone say that they would not under any circumstances encourage someone to enter the field of education. Hmmm…can’t say that I agree with that. Let’s be clear. The teaching profession is not what it used to be. I don’t think teachers have ever been under as much pressure as they are now. Test scores, achievement goals, student learning targets, and more are constant concerns. Let me interject a big BUT here…yeah, there are all of those things but I believe I was called to do this. Seeing the lives that I have touched is enough for me. (KEEP READING)
Now that I got that out…let me give some encouraging words to those who are thinking about becoming an educator, those who are finishing up college to enter the workforce, or those who are getting ready to begin their first year in the classroom. Can you teach, or nah? Yes, you can be a teacher! Just keep a few things in mind…
#1: You will not be a pro-teacher your first year, but you will learn a lot. Your first year will be full of ups and downs as you learn how to become a great educator. With each passing year, I felt like I was that much better of a teacher. I don’t even feel like I hit my stride until my 5th year. Why? Because teaching is such a complex task and you improve though your experiences.
#2: Mistakes are okay. This bit of advice is easier said than done. It is so easy to try to be so perfect during your first year because you don’t want to “get in trouble” or do the wrong thing. You’re going to trip and fall many times. As long as you get back up, you’ll be okay. And as I previously stated, with each mistake, you will become that much better of a teacher as you learn from your mistakes.
#3: Find a mentor teacher and pick their brain (if they let you). Find a teacher perhaps in your grade level or just in your school that has teaching experience. Build a rapport with them and then ask them everything! They will be a useful resource and might save you from making some of the mistakes they made when they started teaching.
#4: Find other first-year teachers and connect with them. When I began my teaching career, my district had a special program for new teachers. I met with fellow new teachers once a month and we had comfortable, informal discussions about how things were going in our teaching careers. Even if your district does not provide this opportunity, try to find other new teachers in your school who you can
cry with and drink wine with on Friday evenings after a long week talk with on a regular basis. Iron sharpens iron, so as you move through the school year, you can build each other up and improve your teaching.
#5: Enjoy your students. I know this might sound weird, but it is so easy to be so focused on doing your job that you forget to get to know your students and have fun with them. Sometimes you need to pause the work and do a brain break where you dance with your students. During my first year of teaching, I don’t think I ever smiled (sorry kids). But it was because I was so worried about following this rule and that rule and doing things correctly. I never really had fun with them like I should have.
So, whether you already have a job secured or you need assistance in finding that first teaching job, keep these tips near and dear to your heart. You’re going to make it! Oh, and I was contacted by Teachers Test Prep to share a free screening of The Road to Teach which might give you even more inspiration for being a teacher.