We can try to fight it, we can deny it, but we can’t change it. School is coming. Each year always brings new excitement, and of course, it always brings a whole new crop of professionals into this crazy profession.
First-year teachers, this is for you! Some of you are coming fresh out of college teacher preparation programs, and some of you are alternatively certified and leaving one profession and entering into another profession. Regardless of your path into the classroom, you are here now; buckle up it is about to get so good! First-year teachers keep me on my toes, and I am still a newbie teacher (or at least I think I am)! You are coming into your classrooms with fresh perspective, energy, and excitement. All of those are things veteran teachers are incredibly jealous of and wish they had. I love getting to know first-year teachers and developing friendships with you because you have something to teach me.
I remember my first year of teaching. I remember my successes and my failures, the times I laughed, the times I cried, and all of the crazy moments in between. There are so many things I wish I knew back then, and I want to share those with you.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
I went into my first year of teaching thinking I had finally arrived. I had my college degree and did my internship; I got this! I could not have been more wrong. My undergrad degree prepared me for a lot of things: how to plan a rehearsal, how to teach songs, how to conduct, and how to plan a concert. What they didn’t prepare me for: how to communicate with parents, how to run a parent-teacher conference, how to handle the student who just won’t do anything (in music education world you just think every kid will love music), how to manage an activity fund, or how to keep track of the nineteen million forms you have to keep in order. I thought I had it all under control; I was quickly reminded that was not the case, and I needed some help. There is nothing weak or wrong with asking for help; I still ask for help. Ask someone to read that email to a parent before you send it. Ask your administrator if they could sit in on a conference with you if you are worried about the parent. Ask someone to come in and watch you teach; take their feedback and put it into place. If you are struggling with a student, ask if anyone else is; don’t think it is just you. Chances are it isn’t. There are countless teachers on your site that want you to be successful. They know what they are doing, and they can help you. Use that help!
Remember You Are A Professional
You have worked so hard to get to this place in your career. You are a professional. Treat yourself as one, and always make sure you are respected as one as well. If you are in an email back and forth with a parent, stop--be the professional. You don’t need to engage in that conversation; send it on to your administrator and let them help you. Dress like a professional. Talk professionally. Make your students believe you have been doing this for years! Don’t argue with a student; those go nowhere, and you lose credibility with the rest of your students. They might be going through things you could never imagine.
Procedures Are Your Friends
I love procedures, and I have a procedure for everything in my classroom. There are procedures for coming into my room and leaving my room. There are procedures for passing out music, for passing in bell work, for sitting, for standing, and getting on and off risers. If it happens in my room, there is a procedure for it. I don’t just do procedures the first day of school and hope they get it. I spend the first three weeks of school hammering in those procedures. Of course, I sprinkle a little content in there too. After those three weeks, do I stop talking about procedures? Heck no! Every day is a reminder about procedures. To quote my friend Matt Fore, “Procedures get practiced 180 days. Otherwise, you get chaos.” Take the time needed to work on those procedures. It pays off, I promise!
Get To Know Your Students
This might sound like a no-brainer, but I thought I did a really good at knowing my students. But looking back on it, I think I could have done a better job. Just like I mentioned with procedures, spend those first couple weeks of school getting to know your students. Play games and do team building activities. Just as important, make sure they know a little bit about you, too!
Cherish your weekends. Take time to take care of you. Do fun things! It is all about time management, I set a deadline for myself: if it isn’t done by 4 pm, it can wait. Don’t overload yourself. You have a long career ahead of you! Brace and pace yourself!
Get on Twitter
Chances are you might already be on Twitter, but if not, this is your chance to grow yourself professionally. I love Twitter! This is the best professional development I have ever received! There are awesome educators out there, and you will learn and grow from them! If you need a list of some to start with, check my “Blogs to Read” page; they are the best! If you are a teacher in Oklahoma, take the time to make the Sunday night #oklaed Twitter chats a part of your life! We chat every Sunday, 8 PM CST. It is well worth your time and will help you so much.
You got this, teachers! Go out there and change the world!