While this article was written for new teachers, I believe it has something for everyone. Hope you enjoy.
Mindsteps Mentor: Advice for New Teachers
September 10, 2013
Dear New Teachers,
Each school day provides you with an opportunity to impact lives and determine direction through your relationships with students. It is a privilege. You can honor your students each day by presenting yourself as a genuine, positive, friendly adult model who demonstrates knowledge of your subject, enthusiasm for learning, and favorable human interaction.
Honoring your students requires you to remember that you are constantly on display for your audience. Despite occasional disinterest or general apathy toward labor, your students will carefully examine your style, your mannerisms, and your preparation. They will test you for inaccuracies and contradictions, and they will challenge your knowledge and focus with individual and group treachery.
Students learn best and work hardest for teachers who honor them by being friendly without necessarily being a friend, who challenge without discouraging, and who persuade, prod, and provide without growing weary despite the many requirements and tasks facing teachers. The vigilant teacher learns to recognize those who need attention and reinforcement, and that vigilance begins on the first day and never ends.
You will eventually determine a reasonable and fair view of assessing your students’ work. The time-consuming labor is often completed late at night or on weekends when your interests lie elsewhere and can often be the most discouraging element of teaching. Remember to use your grading for growth and not punishment, and think of your time spent in evaluating student work as a measurement of your skills as well as your students’ progress. Adjust, revise, and re-connect based on how the students perform. Your flexibility will save headache and heartache.
You will be surrounded by colleagues who will provide anything you need and much that you do not need or want. Be appreciative of all of them, and refine your radar toward those who connect with their students and demonstrate professionalism. Your best strategies and suggestions are likely to come from informal or unplanned interaction with colleagues rather than in formal training settings. Work, plan, and study with others. Seek out those who might help you grow in your craft and remember that a solution lies down the hall or around the corner, but you won’t find those solutions in the isolation of your classroom. Find those mentors.
Have fun. Teaching, done right, is never boring. Your students will see to that. With so many personalities at your hand every day, and with your well-organized lessons and activities guiding the learning process, things happen!
Enjoy the serious and comical mixing with the lethargic and the swift. With you at the controls in your classroom, carefully monitoring and guiding your students’ growth, the weeks will fly by as the school years accumulate, and your relationships with your former students and colleagues will develop into rich friendships. I wish you all the best in your new profession: teaching – the BEST profession.