It is so crazy to me that I am wrapping up the last week of my first semester as an actual teacher. I could never have imagined how my first year of teaching would look, but truthfully, I wouldn’t change it. I love the 7th graders that I teach, and I hope that they are learning from me.
Like with any new chapter, I feel I have learned a lot about myself. As we have seen a common theme on this blog, I want to share what I have learned with all of you. So here is what I have learned:
- Be your own cheerleader- It is so nice to have people support you, and I am so grateful for those that do. But part of being a teacher is encouraging your students. You also need to remember to encourage yourself. There is a lot of work that goes into teaching, and I am so proud of myself when I can actually accomplish it and meet my deadlines.
- Even the best lesson plans can go wrong- I played Jeopardy with my students last week to help them prepare for their quiz and also to give them some extra credit points. It worked fine for the majority of my classes, but my last class is kind of where things went wrong. Very few of my students wanted to play, and those that did seemed to do so reluctantly. It wasn’t enjoyable, and I ended the game after just a few questions. It seemed so good, and for the most part, it worked. But no matter how good that lesson was or how fun I thought the game was, it was a much different reality.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel- As a teacher, you want your activities to be fun and engaging. But this doesn’t mean that you have to do everything on your own. Ask other teachers for activity ideas. Look through Pinterest or TeachersPayTeachers. I had my students do a virtual field trip that I got off someone else’s blog. I adapted the field trip for time and digital learning, and it turned out to be pretty fun. It really seemed like my kids enjoyed it (I know I sure did). That being said,..
- Stay in your own lane- Each teacher teaches differently, and everyone has different boundaries, rules, and expectations. I probably don’t teach like any other teacher in my building, and that is okay. It doesn’t make me any less effective or any worse as a teacher. My rules are different. I encourage talking, and will probably engage in off-topic conversations depending on the day. I assign less homework and more extra credit. While meeting the goals of my school and team, I have my own rules and freedom within my classroom.
- Be the teacher you always wanted- I am not saying that every teacher I had was bad. No. Some of my teachers were really great. But I get to interact with my students in a way that I didn’t have many teachers interacting with me. I can connect to them, relate to them, and call them out when they are doing something stupid. In addition,…
- Be real with your students- It is more work to put up a front. I tell my students pretty frequently that I remember what it was like to be their age. This threw them off the first couple of times and would inevitably lead to them asking how old I am. But now that they know me a little better, I get asked other questions, usually random ones, that I am more than happy to answer. I act the same with them as I do with my best friends who I have known over a decade. There is no “teacher persona” or personality. I’m still me, regardless of the situation.
- Treat students like people- Here’s my hot take. I don’t care all that much if my students master the content I teach. Very few, if any, are going to do something related to history for their career. It’s important to know, but the skills I teach are even more important. Critical thinking, hard work and effort, explaining thoughts, and making connection are some of the skills I teach in my classroom. My students are teenagers or about to be teenagers. It is more important to me to treat them like people than it is for them to know the dates of the Silk Road.
- Be adaptable- Life doesn’t always go to plan. I will be one of the first people to tell you that. But it is important to be adaptable when things don’t work out the way they’re supposed to. It’s important to change on the fly. There was a lesson I taught a couple weeks back where a couple of my classes ran long. I’ve talked before about my homework policy. There wasn’t enough time for me to feel comfortable to explain and provide the time for the assignment. So I just canceled the assignment for those classes.
- Let your work speak for you- I don’t have to tell people that I’m a good teacher. I let my work speak. Does that mean every day is perfect? No. But like I talked about last week, consistency is more important than the day to day.
- Love yourself as much as you love your kids- I love my kids so much. I want the best for them and for what they will do. But I have learned that I have to take care of myself too. I am no good to my students stressed out and incapable of doing my job. That is not going to benefit anyone. Pouring love into yourself makes you a better teacher and person.
I’m wrapping it up. I could not have imagined myself teaching where I am, but now I can’t imagine myself anywhere else. I can’t believe this semester has gone so quickly. It’s so great to see that my years of studying are actually paying off! I’m looking forward to what else is going to happen and what I am going to learn!