This week, we will end on a positive note. I remember my first year of teaching clearly. Despite having been through a great education program, I felt unprepared for reality once in the classroom. I had to accept that I probably wasn’t going to get anything right the first time, and that I had to learn how to find my sense of humor no matter how frustrated I was with myself, my lack of resources, or my students.
Classroom management, I learned quickly, is not one size fits all. The strategies used are determined not only by the chemistry of the personalities in each class, but also my own chemistry with each class. The underlining strategy that took me forever to learn, but helped the most, was to be authentic. Be true to myself. I didn’t have to be a big personality and a mean presence to keep attention. I just had to be me in all my awkward, goofy glory.
The following two articles can help new teachers survive their first year.
1. In “Stay Positive and Pace Yourself: A Survival Guide for First-Year Teachers” by Sara Ketcham on neaTODAY, Sara highlights the benefits of planning ahead, setting limits to your work so you don’t burn out, and keeping a positive mindset so that you don’t add to the pressure of being a newbie.
2. In “Learn to Reframe Failure” on Medium.com, Elsa Fridman Randolph thinks about how we might “reimagine the P.E. curriculum to serve as a catalyst for developing a growth mindset in all areas (academic and extracurricular) of students’ lives.” The most important lesson in this article for teachers and students, and everyone, is that we benefit from understanding failure to be part of the learning process. As a new teacher, know that you may have to try several ways to do something (whether managing a classroom, motivating a student, designing a great lesson plan, or developing an appropriate assessment) before you find the way that works best for you and your students. Accept the challenges.
Share experiences and insights from your first year in the comments below, and have a great weekend!