A newbie teacher teaches across the hall from me this year. She is literally just out of school, no experience. Ah, I remember those days: full of optimism, ideas, and energy. I hate to say it, but 11 years will do a lot to squash those ideals. This is not to say I'm pessimistic, ornery, and jaded, but I am...well, experienced. The rose-colored glasses have long been tossed aside and the day-to-day reality of teaching is no longer a struggle for me. I no longer feel like I'm drowning, barely keeping my head above water.
While I watch this new teacher struggle, I realize just how far I've come. I watch her make the same rookie mistakes I made. It makes me feel good to know that, hey, I actually know what I'm doing. It may have taken me 11 years to get here, but I'm here! (This is NOT to say that I'm taking any pleasure in her strife. I do help her... A LOT).
Here are some random things I've learned about teaching over the years. Some are big ideas, some are so minutely small. I will probably only have time to write a couple, so this entry will continue in Parts II, III...to perhaps IX.
1.) When disciplining or reprimanding a child, do not be the first to break eye contact when it's over. They MUST be the first one to look away. With the more willful ones, this may take awhile and it may get uncomfortable, but so be it. The one who holds eye contact the longest wins. Seriously.
2.) Within 10 minutes after said disciplining or reprimanding, call on the child, whether it be to answer a question or run an errand or whatever. The child needs to know that it's not personal; it's not him/her you don't appreciate, it's his/her behavior.
3.) Tell parents EVERYTHING that happens. Nobody likes surprises. Email is the greatest invention known to me. Let them know about ANY type of issue: behavior, academic, social, ANYTHING. If you don't, it'll come back to bite you in the ass. And if you screw up and neglect to let a parent know something, apologize for it.
4.) Make friends with the school janitor and the school secretary. These two people are the KEYS to making your professional life happy and easy.
5.) I know this one is hard, but DON'T get emotionally involved with your kids. Keep your distance. (It took me until this year to get this one, and I'm still not mastering it. It's easier to do this at the beginning of the year, but once we hit January, I get all tangled up in them and their issues). Remember, this is a job, not your entire life. Your students, their parents, and their issues will consume you if you let it (and some people want it to, which is their choice).
6.) Don't spend your prep writing blog entries. Use them for shit you have to do. On that note...