Congratulations, you have finished your collegiate education and now you are about to start your new job as a teacher. You may have noticed that families of butterflies have moved into your stomach and for some reason every time you think about your new job, they fly around down there. It is understandable to be nervous about your first teaching job. Molding the minds of future generations is a big responsibility; so no one will judge you for being a bit apprehensive. In order to assuage your anxiety and better prepare you for your new career, here are 5 things every new teacher needs to know.
The 5 Things Every New Teacher Should Know…
(Or How Not To Be Eaten Alive On Your First Day of Teaching!)
1) Set up routines The best way for children to form positive habits is through repetition and routine. As an educator, that same truth applies to teaching. Find the best kind of routine that works for your class and then follow it every day. While what you may teach will change, the method in which they learn it will not. If done consistently, as your students go through life they will continue to use those habits and routines they learned from you for learning something new. Never forget that the way you teach will determine the way they learn; in that way setting up routines is not only one of the simplest methods of effective teaching, but also one of the most profound.
2) Your job is hard Being an educator is one of the most difficult jobs in the world. There is no one size fits all method of teaching, there are few objective methods to judge success, and unfortunately more often than not it is a thankless job. Many extremely talented teachers get burnt out early on in their career because they think that they can just waltz in, say “2+2=4”, and get a standing ovation from the class. The truth of the matter is that some days you’re going to want to tear out your hair. Some days you’ll feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle in a hurricane; and some days you’ll just want to quit… and that’s ok. You’ll have those terribly disheartening days, but you’ll also have that one day when a struggling student jumps with joy from getting their first day; and then you’ll remember why you do it.
3) Never Break a Promise The foundation of education is built on trust. Students need to know and trust what you say before they can believe what you say. Follow through with everything you say or the students will see you as untrustworthy or a pushover. If they don’t have faith in your word, then students are more apt to engage in disruptive behavior and generally ignore any lectures or lessons that you have prepared for them. If your students know that you mean what you say and what you say is true, they will take you more seriously and give you the attention that you demand.
4) Encourage your students at every opportunity It is often easy to underestimate the power of little words. Often, even the most innocuous comments can plant a seed and either bloom into something positive or it can spread like a weed and choke out the good. Don’t let students treat each other cruelly. Find the positive in every student and strive to bring that out of them and cultivate it. Avoid hurtful sarcasm, comments, and refrain from labeling students negatively; if you decide that a student is lazy, they will do their best to meet that expectation. Your job as an educator is to mold young minds into something great, not break their spirit. If you want to be a successful teacher, make your classroom a safe place where mistakes are allowed and learning is encouraged.
5) Relax In order to be an effective teacher; you must learn how to be relaxed when you teach. You’ll never teach as well as you could if you’re tense and see your students as an impersonal crowd. Get to know every one of your students, show interest in their lives, and build a personal relationship with them. Once that relationship is established, every lecture will become a personal conversation. The classroom atmosphere will transform from stuffy academia into an effervescent center of learning where interpersonal relationships will act as a vehicle for the dynamic exchange of ideas.
If there was only one lesson to learn when it comes to teaching, it’s that you should always remember that you are dealing with human beings. With school over-crowding and multiple classes, it’s easy to allow your students to turn into just another name on the roster. You will lose your students and your heart if you all that happen. Remember that every child you see is another person with hopes, dreams, ambitions, likes, and dislikes.
It is your job to turn your students into people capable of critical and independent thought; acting as a spiritual blacksmith that takes their malleable minds and tempers it into a razor-sharp instrument of knowledge and truth.