Tuesday, July 23, 2013

10 things I've learned...advice for new teachers.

I'm tripling up and linking up with the "Loving Wisdom for New Teachers" Linky from Fabulously First, the Let's Get Acquainted - Teacher Advice Linky from Flying into First Grade, and this linky from Miss Kindergarten:

To do a little linky alchemy, my ten things are in the form of advice, gleaned from my observations and personal experiences + mistakes + successes over the years. (Also, I've thrown in some photos to break up my wordiness.)

Me as a fresh-faced first year
teacher! Bwahaha! Look at that
cool guy...
Well, this next year will be my lucky 13th year of teaching and I have definitely noticed some trends, and learned quite a bit in that time. I'm going to try to not repeat too many of the great ideas I've already read in these linkies. If I do repeat a bit, sorry! I'm afraid some of these will come off as preachy or know-it-allish, please know that that's not my intention! I've definitely even been guilty of a couple of these. But that leads me to my first one...

#1 - Don't ever think you've mastered it. I once worked with a guy who told me that he was planning to move into a principal position because he had "completely mastered" teaching. He'd been teaching for all of 5 years. I refrained from punching his lights out, but I did imagine doing it. If there's one thing I've learned from teaching, it is that one can never master it. You should always be striving to become a better educator.

#2 - Don't let people or "things" steal your passion. Less than desirable trends, admin, parent interactions, curriculum programs, NCLB, etc will come and go. Close your door and do what's best for your kids. Easier said than done sometimes, I know!

#3 - Love what you teach, and if you don't...pretend or at least still love how you teach it. Like our friend Dave Burgess will attest, enthusiasm is key. If you have to teach American History up to the Civil War to 5th graders and couldn't care less about history... pretend. If asked, my students would say I'm crazy about history. In reality I didn't have any interest in it...until I started to act like I did and used full fledged, in depth simulations to teach it. Now it's actually interesting to me!

#4 - Share. Seems simple, but I've found that it's not. If you do something cool in your room, share it! I want to believe that the reason teachers don't share is because they are shy about their ideas. (But I know that some just don't like to share the limelight of a good idea. :(  ) The students always benefit when teachers share. So don't be shy, and don't wait for a colleague to ask you! If your colleagues don't like your ideas they won't use them. Afraid you'll look too proud of your own ideas? Who cares? You SHOULD be proud. The end.

Don't fall into the trap of
being a screamer.
#5 - Keep control. We've all had kids with behaviors that are...less than perfect. We've all known teachers who are screamers. (Or maybe you're lucky and haven't!) Don't be that teacher. If you're screaming, you've lost control...don't blame it on your kids. 

#6 - Have high expectations for learning and behavior...AND enforce them. If you don't back up your expectations then they're meaningless. I think a lot of teachers who struggle with classroom management tell their kids that they have high expectations but then when the kids don't meet them they just let it go. 

#7 - Plan. I know that many of you will read that and think, "duh!" But in my opinion planning is not just smart, it's our duty. Kids deserve their days/lessons to be well thought out and planned with them specifically in mind. Taught it 12 times before? Not to these kids you haven't. "But I want to be flexible in my teaching." Great! But being flexible is not NOT having a plan...I've heard that from teachers across my career and it's a pet peeve of mine.

#8 - Fair is not the same as equal. Our society stresses that everyone should be treated equally. And in many cases that is true. But I think when it comes to education it's more important that people are treated fairly. Everyone should have the equal opportunity to reach their full potential. Click my poster over there to download one for yourself for free! Check out my band-aid lesson post for more on this topic.

#9 - Remember your real job. I almost think the hidden curriculum is more important than the actual academic curriculum. Public education was created to make people into better citizens. If I help make my kids into good people, give them good life experiences, provide them with a place that they feel safe and loved, plan exciting and engaging lessons, and get to know them as people...the test scores and all that will work itself out.

I met Killer B when she was a resource teacher
and taught in the classroom next to mine. I
eventually tricked her into marrying me!
#10 - Keep an open mind. Whether you've heard rumors about a kid on your roster, think you can't learn anything from a professional development meeting, think your methods are already good enough, etc...chances are, you're wrong. Sometimes it's easy to go into something with a fixed mindset rather than a growth mindset. And when you do that, you're bound to miss out on some wonderful opportunities. 

My contribution to Let's Get Acquainted!
So I hope that didn't come off as too soapboxy. A lot of those served as great reminders to myself! Hopefully there are some new teachers and veterans out there that at least can read this and think, "Right on!" 

Didn't win? It's just $5! Click the image to get one!
So, Killer B picked a winner at random (she didn't even know what I was asking her about!) for my pin it to win it for the Book of Awesome Tasks, and it was Joanne M.! I've already e-mailed your prize to you, and I hope you love it as much as I do!

If you haven't stopped by my 350+ Followers Giveaway yet, please do! It's in my last post!


  1. Wow! Such great wisdom in this post! I really enjoyed reading all 10 things you shared.
    Teaching 3rd with Mr. G
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  2. This is such a great list. I love that these are all important things to remember. Thanks for sharing!


  3. I can't tell you how important #10 (because I work with a lot of those kids). I can't tell you the number of times I've heard people asking if they're getting so-and-so (and they're still two grades away). WE have to be able to teach everyone!

    Digital: Divide & Conquer
    Follow me on Bloglovin'

  4. I'm reading Teach Like a Pirate right now. I have flagged every page because everything is jumping out to me! I'm so excited to go into the school year with new tricks up my sleeve.

    Also, congrats on starting your 13th year! I'm starting year four and I still feel like I have SOOOOOOO much to learn!!

  5. I met my hubby at school too! I taught 6th, he taught 8th! We've taught together for 7 years (4 of those we have been together) and this year is the first year we will be apart! Do you still teach with your wife?

  6. Right on, Nick! I agree with everything you've shared here, especially #6. Follow through is so important!

    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

  7. I love your list, especially remembering our real job of molding good people!! I also met my husband in the classroom next door, and he tricked me into marrying him as well! :) Glad I stumbled upon your blog today!!


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