The first day of school comes with feelings of anxiety, excitement, and anticipation for both students and teachers. By practicing these five mantras, you can make your first day, and your first year of teaching a positive and fulfilling experience.
In honor of National Teacher Appreciation Week, we thought we’d share some tips to help new teachers keep their sanity in their first year of teaching. We know there’s already a lot of lists out there about prepping for the new school year. We also know that reading up on the “56 things not to do as a new teacher” can be pretty overwhelming. So with the help of some experienced teacher feedback, we’ve distilled the best, seemingly obvious, but often forgotten advice.
Just when you think you’ve reached your wits’ end, remember these five mantras to practice in the classroom.
Remaining calm is essential to making rational decisions. This may seem obvious, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. If you’re in a situation where a student is misbehaving or being confrontational, you need to keep your cool. Responding with anger will only make the situation worse, and you’ll naturally respond more reasonably if you remain calm. According to Dr. Jones, an award winning author of Tools for Teaching, the biggest mistake in dealing with backtalk, is responding with backtalk. It doesn’t matter who gets the last word. Remember – “it takes one fool to backtalk [but] it takes two fools to make a conversation out of it.” Check out this great article condensed from Dr. Jones’ best-selling book on how to deal with troublesome students.
In today’s technology-ridden world, it’s becoming more and more important for teachers to adapt their teaching practices to coincide with and permeate the online world. So what does it mean to be a 21st century teacher? For one thing, it’s about more than just being tech-savvy (although that is important). You need to stay connected with students and bring the learning experience to them, whether it’s online or through blended learning methods. 21st century teachers are visionaries, collaborators, risk-takers and most importantly, they’re perpetual learners. Check out this insightful wiki that outlines what it means to be a 21st century teacher.
You can definitely go and hide in your car, but we promise asking for help will get you better results. Asking for advice from your fellow colleagues, mentors, or other faculty is not an admission of failure. Teaching in itself is a learning process, and taking advantage of the wisdom of those who have been in the field longer than you will only help you be better. Take part in professional development sessions or join the Center for Teaching Quality for a myriad of helpful resources. Before you know it, you’ll be the one coaxing a new teacher out of the supply closet!
You are ‘on’ all day long. Creating lesson plans and lecturing during the day to keeping up on your grading homework in the evening – takes a lot of energy. So leave work at work, and make your life outside the classroom a priority. There’s no reason you should still be there when the custodian comes to lock up. Of course there will always be busier times of the year where extra hours are necessary, but it shouldn’t become a habit. Put an effort into scheduling yourself some downtime; catch up with friends, go for a workout, or get some extra sleep. Keeping yourself rested and sharp will benefit you and your students. Watch this webinar by Agnes Enyedi, an international scholar and mentor, for strategies on how to avoid teacher burnout.
Although this one is listed last, it should really be at the top of the list. Teaching is an extremely fulfilling profession, but I won’t gloss over the hard realities many new teachers face in their first few years. From juggling a heavy workload, to building parent relationships, to being at the mercy of political bandwagons of ever-changing curriculums – it can get a little overwhelming. During these difficult times, try to remember why you chose to be an educator and what drives your passion. Grab a copy of The Passion Driven Classroom, by Angela Maiers and Amy Sandvold for some motivation. It’s a fantastic read that will inspire and remind you that passion must meet practice in your everyday (and if you want to hear best-selling author and TEDx speaker Angela Maiers speak – join us at Fusion)!
Looking for more inspiration? Check out these compelling stories that epitomize innovation in the classroom.
- Download the Innovation in Teaching Booklet – the latest publication from Inside Higher Ed on what innovative teachers from around the world are doing for their students.
- Getting Online Students Engaged During Week One of a New Term
- Get Your Game On: How to Gamify Your Course in 5 Easy Steps