Written in 2017
Dear first year teacher (specifically my new teacher daughter Hannah),
Top ten things to keep in mind as you enter this first year. It will be a whirlwind-I never remember August, and I lose at least 5 pounds, which is good.
Here are things to remember: I hope no one from my current school system reads this since I am sharing some secrets here, but then I am a 25+ veteran, which means I don’t have it all right, but I am dangerous. I speak the truth.
Remember (print me out and post on your computer):
- Those first PD days will make you wonder “What in the world did I get myself into?” We are taught to give students little bits of info at a time not to overwhelm them, and then great intentioned professionals from that central office come and do the opposite to us. We all feel that pain. Walk away and daily list your priorities. Some of that stuff does not matter.
- Recognize what does matter is lining your year with the expectations, lifelong skills and then standards. The skills needed for productive living are linked to standards but don’t get too bogged down by standards. One year I was required to teach my kids commonly used French terms. French terms. So, a boy named Clyde could tell me what Joie de vivre meant but struggled to read his local newspaper. He would be a farmer. In five years, no, six months they might change those standards. I have seen a teacher evaluation plan thrown out in 6 months!!!! So, don’t stress over the minor ones. Priorities.
- Make a calendar, steps as to what will be taught, list of standards. Under each standard, list your VERY simple “I can” statements so that these are easily accessed. I usually keep a clipboard with these listed per class. I check them off as we go.
- Females, beware the “hen effect”, the “you are a new kid coming into my territory” feeling that you will get. Some of us veterans are intimidated by your freshness. I love it because my BRAIN IS OLD AND SLOW. You can teach me lots of stuff or at least tell me what those stupid letters stand for (LRE, SC, RTI-seriously, how much more energy does it take to just say the words????) My husband is a minister, so I have started over many times and hold the record for new teacher PDs-which once were called inservice. Treat all those ladies with kindness. They will see how great you are, and that you are not out to steal their show. But they may hurt your feelings, so put on your big girl “underwear”.
- Plan a day or two once a month that will give you a break-how about once a week? I am an ELA teacher, so every now and then, those darlings need to just silently read. Yes, and hallelujah. Can I get a witness? There are great tutoring games online, and if you have them do that, you are covering 2 standards: Technology and a content one!!!
- You know those lesson plans that you are told must be posted online by 8:00 AM every Monday morning? Well, of course, mine are always up-to-date and accurate as to what we are doing in class. I would NEVER post things that we were not doing in class out of the emotion called tired of this stupidity. Don’t get me wrong-I have a plan, it’s a good one, great learning is happening, I respect the process, understand the need for this, respect my administrators and the job they must do, but…in one unnamed school system, I quietly quit doing a lot of junk I was being asked to do because I was TIRED, and no one ever noticed. I am a bit of an overachiever, so these things drive me crazy, but only for awhile-that emotion will pass:). I have also had the end of the year evaluation and the box that says “teacher lesson plans up to date online” was checked “no”, and I still love everybody, am still standing, still got hired back, will do better next year, well, maybe:)
- Have your discipline plan ready. I have a blog about that you may want to read-I will repost it. Never let them see you sweat and don’t dare be unprepared.
Since you are printing this section and and posting it where you can see it, put verses around your room in areas where kids can’t see them but you can is the law, but hey, I can’t help it if they search for something on my desk and there are those verses, right?
Psalm 121:5-8 (NIV)
5 The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
Both my daughters are teachers. Who knew? Impact that classroom and school for Christ, my sweeties. Nothing else matters.
*Update: my oldest daughter is still teaching 1st grade in Harlan, KY. My youngest daughter is now a high school girls’ youth minister in Jackson, TN.