Grading papers is a hassle.
Rather than worrying or stressing out about having to grade, just accept it. Grading is part of the job.
Grading and returning papers quickly can actually have some positive results. Students appreciate getting papers back quickly. Many of them like to know where they stand, and grades give them feedback. The sooner the better.
Students often view slow paper returning teachers as lazy. This is probably not good for the teacher/student relationship.
Don't see grading papers as some waste of time or hassle that you have to suffer through. Know that some good will come of it.
Your students will be the ones who benefit.
Telling someone to shut up is a big deal.
There are many other ways to tell someone to be quiet, but for some reason this phrase has a lot of power behind it.
Being told to shut up is offensive to a lot of people. It can spark anger, even if it's said in a joking way. Anger is obviously not something that you want to have in your classroom if you can help it.
It's not like saying shut up is necessary for anything. Do yourself a favor and eliminate it from your classroom, joking or not. That means you too.
Teachers get into the profession for a variety of different reasons.
Some get into it because they love young people. Some become teachers because they love summer vacations. Some get into it because they love the subject they teach.
Even if you don't always love what you are teaching, it is important that you show enthusiasm for it.
Part of your job is to give students an opportunity to find out what they might love and be good at. Don't let a bad attitude about what you are teaching get in the way.
Being a leader of adults is different than being a leader of children.
A lot of school administrators were teachers at one point. This is not always a good thing. Problems can occur when they try to treat the teachers who work for them the same way they did their former students.
Too much bossiness and pushiness will drive your teachers away. Don't be so insecure that you feel like you have to try to prove that you are in charge all the time.
Teachers will rebel against the bossy, pushy management style even more than most other people would. They are used to being in charge most of the time, so it's not easy for them to take being disrespected.
So, administrators, be sure you have an attitude of working with your teachers and not against them. Let them know that you are in charge, if needed, but don't feel like you have to force it down their throats.
The students will be the ones who benefit.
You always have room to improve.
Never make the mistake of thinking that you have your teaching skills perfected. Try to be aware of what other educators are doing--either people you work with or people you hear or read about.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a teacher is to refuse to even try anything new because you are afraid of change.
You may even be teacher of the year, but I guarantee you that there is somebody out there doing something better than you. Be open to learning. Don't let yourself get set in your ways. Be open to the possibility of changing. Don't get cocky.
Your students will be the ones who benefit.
Criticism will not kill you.
It won't kill your students either. If all you are doing as a teacher is telling your students how great they are then you are doing them a disservice.
Tell them when they are wrong. Tell them when they are acting inappropriately. Tell them when their effort isn't good enough. A little dose of reality is good for your students.
Somewhere along the way giving compliments seems to have become the only way to go. Sugar sugar sugar. This kind of approach is going to make your students delusional.
The same thing is also true in the other direction. You don't want to only criticize, of course. Praise when you can, but criticize when it's deserved too. You will be much more believable. You will be helping your students as well.
Students hate being compared to other students.
This is especially true if you are comparing students to their siblings. Whatever you do, don't make comments about how great or terrible a sibling was (either in behavior or performance).
Siblings can be very different, both in ability and personality.
Give your students a chance to start your class with a clean slate.
Learning information is important.
People who say that students shouldn't have to learn facts anymore because they can look everything up on Google are missing it. Yes, learning facts is important. But there is also more to school than just learning information and teaching students to pass state tests.
Teach your students how to learn. Teach them how to be disciplined. Teach them to work towards a goal. Teach them facts. Teach them accountability and that failure is an option. Make sure that your students are better off when they leave you.
The grade you teach makes a difference.
I think that teachers have a range of about two grades that fit them best. For example, the best two grades for you may be fifth and sixth. Or they may be 11th and 12th. Every teacher is different.
I am not saying that these are the only two grades that you can teach successfully. My point is that these are your two best grades to teach.
If your goal is to be the best teacher that you can possibly be, then pay attention to what grades you are teaching. You may not always have a choice. If you do, though, do your best to get into your sweet spot. Your students will be rewarded.
Summer vacation will be here before you know it.
A lot of teachers look for part time jobs during the summer. Tutoring or teaching summer school may be tempting. Not a good idea.
I understand that the money may be good for these kinds of jobs. Unless you are really hurting for money in a major way, though, I wouldn't recommend doing them.
Teachers who want to stay in the profession for a long period of time should do whatever they can to stay fresh. This includes taking breaks from teaching related activities whenever you get the chance.
Work intensely during the school year to make sure that you are doing the best job you can. When it comes to breaks, though (including the weekend), think big picture and do what you can to avoid getting burned out.
Sometimes the little things can be important.
Establishing a few "small" level rules can make a big difference in the overall behavior of your class. Showing your students that there are boundaries from the beginning can send a message that they will be expected to behave in an orderly way.
The consequences you use may not even need to be anything more than calling the student out for the misbehavior. Do whatever works for you and fits your teaching style.
If the only misbehavior that you try to stop are the major issues, then you will likely have a tough time keeping things under control in the long run.
Start out by establishing some boundaries and you will have a much better chance of eliminating misbehavior in your classroom, both big and small.
A lot of teachers have terrible social lives.
They take work home. They stay up late working and planning for the next school day. Then, at the end of the week, they are so worn out that they don't feel like doing anything but sit around and watch television. Boooo.
Don't let your teaching job wear you down or make you lose connection with the human race.
If you have a family, get out and do something fun on the weekend. Hang out with other families. If you are single, get out and mingle. Make yourself if you have to. Don't let your life pass you by.
Teaching is a great profession, but it is a sacrifice. Just be sure you don't sacrifice everything for it.
Teaching can wear anyone out.
Whether you are a brand new teacher or a thirty year veteran, the job of teaching can be exhausting. It never gets easy.
All that being said, don't take frivolous days off. You are paid to do a job. Don't just lay out and take mental days. Don't show movies if they don't have any connection to what you are teaching.
Your students deserve your best.
You aren't going to get along with every teacher you work with.
You may even think one of your coworkers is a jerk or even a bad teacher. Feel free to think what you want, but be careful about what you actually say. Never ever never say something bad about another teacher in class. You are all working together for the cause of helping other students. You don't have to like each other to do that.
Sometimes students will want to talk about how much they don't like some other teacher at your school during your class. Don't let them. And definitely don't speak in agreement with them.
I wouldn't fault you too much for insulting another subject in class (many teachers talk about how much they hate math, for instance). Just stay away from naming names or making it obvious who you are talking about if you are being insulting.
Educators often have very strong opinions about rules.
Some teachers say there should be no rules. Some say there should be 100. The conventional thinking is probably no more than ten.
The number of rules you have doesn't matter. What works for one teacher may not work for another teacher. The same goes for the consequences you use as well.
The key is to figure out how you want to run your classes and take it from there. If there are only two things that you want to enforce, then have two. If you have 70 or more things that you want to enforce (like me), then go big. It doesn't matter.
Find what works for you. Don't have rules that you don't really care about enforcing. The key to rules is being clear and being able to explain why you have them. Once you do that, the number is up to you.
And please don't give me your dramatic reasoning that kids just won't be able to handle a lot of rules. Boo hoo. The world is full of rules. Better that kids get used to dealing with them. Your students won't hate you unless you are a jerk about it. Toughen up.
Public speaking causes stress and worry for a lot of people.
Even teachers can have problems speaking in front of people. Usually if you have made it that far you don't have too much of a problem with it, but you may still not be as good as you would like to be.
If you are hoping to improve your public speaking skills (not just for teaching), the best thing you can do is over prepare. Over preparing helps you avoid the stress of having to think on the fly when you are in the moment. It can also give you peace of mind in the time before you have to speak.
Making sure you have everything thought out ahead of time will also improve your lessons of course, so there is more than one benefit of being thorough with your preparation.
So, if you are having problems with nerves when you are teaching, plan out every detail you possibly can. Speaking may be a little scary for you, but there are things you can do to make it less difficult.
Expectations are high for new teachers.
There are often mentoring programs, workshops, and other training for teachers when they are hired right out of college. They can get help with just about anything. There is often one exception, though--new teachers are usually already expected to be perfect with classroom management.
So, new teachers, realize that you probably won't have been trained well enough in classroom management in college. It may be up to you to catch up on your own. Trying to emulate your own teacher or following the advice to not "smile before Christmas" is not going to be enough.
Ask other teachers how they handle classroom management. Read as many books on the topic as you can. Read some blogs. Take it upon yourself to get ready.
Classroom management is one area that you will be expected to be great in before you even begin.
Overconfidence can cause a lot of problems.
I took years studying classroom management before I finally got comfortable with it. Now I am at the point where I don't worry about it much anymore. I have figured out a few things that work for me in this area and I feel like I have a good handle on dealing with student misbehavior.
In fact, I am at such a place of comfort with classroom management that I can easily become overconfident. This is a problem.
Overconfidence can easily lead to laziness or lack of focus.
No matter how good or comfortable you get with classroom management, it will never be completely easy or stop being important. Get organized, keep your emotions in check, and don't lose focus.
A pat on the back is nice.
It's nice when your boss or your coworkers recognize you for a job well done. It's nice when people tell you how good you are. It's nice when your students love you and tell you about it.
Unfortunately, nice isn't always reality. If the things I just mentioned are happening for you, awesome. You have a lot of positive things going on.
The danger is in needing those things to happen for you to be satisfied with your job. I have heard of teachers saying that they burned out and left the profession because their boss didn't give them enough positive feedback. Give me a break.
If you need positive feedback to feel good about yourself then teaching may not be the job for you.
Your focus as a teacher should be on serving children. Your students may even hate you right now and not realize how much you did for them until years later. You can't count on them appreciating you. You may have a boss that doesn't throw sugar around like Willy Wonka. Don't let that stop you.
Do your best to serve children and know that you are doing something worthwhile. I hope you get to hear every day about how great of job you are doing. If you don't get that, however, press on. Believe in yourself and what you are doing and let the accolades be the icing on the cake, not the requirement for survival.
If you get into an argument with a student then you have already lost.
It doesn't matter how great your point is, as soon as you lose your cool then you have given the student power. There is no chance of "winning" for you at this point.
Stay calm. Enforce consequences if you need to without adding anger as a part of it. When students look like they want to get you engaged in an argument, do the opposite of what seems natural and get even more calm than usual.
When you are calm, you think more clearly. Let the student know that you will talk calmly or not at all. You will feel much better about yourself.
Do your best to protect your mental health.
It is very easy to feel like you are always behind. There is always something to grade, something to plan, or some kind of paper work to fill out. You may become overwhelmed and feel like you have to work around the clock.
Feeling like you have to work around the clock may cause you to feel like you have to work through lunch. This is a bad idea.
Even if you have a mountain of work hanging over you, take a break. Eat lunch with somebody. Socialize. Allow yourself to get away from the work that seems like an emergency but really isn't. It will still be there when you get back.
It won't kill you if something does comes up that makes you have to work through lunch every now then. Making it a habit, however, can be a major cause of stress.
You always have a choice.
You can either let students affect you, or you can choose to not let them affect you.
If students don't like you, so what? You aren't there to be popular.
If your class is misbehaving, don't take it personally. Just react with the appropriate formal or informal discipline measures.
If students don't do well on the almighty standardized tests, don't let it affect your confidence. Make adjustments to your approach for the next time.
You will have a miserable life as a teacher if your happiness and emotional stability is tied to student affection, behavior, or performance. Keep your focus on serving students, do the best you can, and don't connect your entire life and self worth to what happens at school.
Sometimes educators lose sight of their main purpose.
Teachers should not be there to make themselves look good, put others down, or insult their coworkers. The idea is that they are supposed to be helping kids.
I have heard of teachers who have had a great idea about some teaching method, classroom management technique, etc. and were not willing to share it. They don't want other teachers to benefit and look better than they do. Good grief.
There is nothing wrong with a little friendly competition among co-workers. Just don't get carried away with it at the expense of your students.
Teachers set the tone for the behavior in their classes from day one.
There are two choices when it comes to classroom behavior that teachers can make:
1) They can be reactive and wait and see how a class behaves and then add some discipline structure if things don't go well
2) They can be proactive and have a classroom management plan in place from the beginning.
Don't wait and see if your class behaves badly before you decide to do anything about it. By then it may be too late.
Have a plan set up ahead of time and then enforce it as necessary. Making up something on the fly is asking for trouble.
Teachers are counted on to be leaders.
Regardless of the age you teach, your students are looking to you to be competent and confident. Even if you may not feel confident on some days, it is important that you show it.
Confidence from the teacher comforts students. They need to have a feeling that you know what you are doing and that you are in control. If you are wishy-washy or uncertain, you may lose their respect.
This does not mean that you have to be perfect, or feel bad if you aren't perfect. It's not the end of the world if you make a mistake every now and then. That is much different than not showing a general vibe of confidence, though.
Believe in yourself and what you are doing. Don't freak out if you mess up occasionally. Just be sure to keep your swagger.
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