If you could tell a newcomer any one thing about your job, what would it be?
That’s what we asked the veteran teachers of the Teach100 community as part of our new Teach100 Mentor series. Teaching is a demanding line of work, but certain tricks of the trade can ease the way. Lucky for you, we sourced our tips from the best: Teach100 Mentors with an average of 10-20+ years of full-time teaching experience.
We organized their answers into the following categories, but the question we asked everyone was the same. Here’s what our Teach100 Mentors have to say to new and aspiring teachers.
“What is one piece of advice you would like to offer new and aspiring teachers?”
On Students and Classroom Management
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“Be prepared! It's not just for Boy Scouts. The most successful teachers are those who plan thoroughly — everything from lessons to transitions to classroom routines. The more you plan, the better prepared you are for surprises.”
“Meticulously plan for every single minute of your class. There is no such thing as over-prepared!”
“Be honest and genuine with your students: they won't share with you if you do not share with them.”
Make your classroom a positive place for everyone who goes into it, including yourself."
"Enjoy each day and treat students with respect."
"Be a friendly facilitator, not a distant dictator."
“Teaching isn't about conveying information, it's about inspiring students to discover for themselves.”
“Don't be afraid to not know it all! Learn from your learners and explore as they explore.”
“Care, care a lot. You will be able to make a difference for many if you have empathy and perseverance. Take the extra time to be patient and listen. Notice how your students react and interact with each other and the culture you create and design. Be responsive and flexible to making changes that support your students’ needs. Collaborate to make a difference for others in the communities you teach. Through your modeling of caring, your students and their families will become engaged.”
“The most important piece of advice I would give any teacher for a wonderful and successful school year is to form a relationship with each child you teach. Truly listen and show them you care.”
On Professional Development and Networking
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“I believe that everyone has the ability to infuse technology into their classroom. The trick is to move at your own pace and do not try and do everything in one go!”
“Try to pace yourself while remaining innovative in your teaching. I like to introduce one new tech component to my class per unit, and look for opportunities to chat about my content area with experts nationwide. But this commitment can leave me feeling inferior... I have to catch myself and realize that no one can do everything, and it takes years and years to hone your craft!”
“Try to be an early adopter of educational technology and don't be afraid to try new educational approaches.”
“Find a positive mentor who can guide you through your first year. The first year is always the most difficult and it helps to have someone supporting you!”
“Experienced teachers will always be happy to help — they remember what it's like to be in your shoes.”
“Form a network of like-minded individuals.”
"Live in a constant beta stage! Never stay the same...always be searching for new ways to engage students and deliver content."
“Ask questions. Everyone is willing to help you out — don't be afraid to ask.”
“Create a personal learning network, both face to face and online. This provides you access to invaluable resources, support and encouragement as you explore teaching and learning. Plus, if you teach, you rock!”
“Use technology — but use it as a tool, not as the answer.”
On Work/Life Balance
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“Always be learning and always be reflecting on your practice, but also take lots of time out for yourself to recharge your batteries. Teaching is really hard work and we can't be our best in our classrooms if we aren't taking care of ourselves — it is much easier to be present for our students, to focus on new professional learning, and to be reflective practitioners when we are rested and achieving balance in our lives.”
“...Determine the best system that works for [you] to stay organized. I think staying organized is one of the top issues that new teachers face, especially with the vast amount of materials, student information and data, contact and behavior logs, and websites and login information that we have as teachers.”
“Select one night a week that is just for you. If it's during the week, leave right after school. This is your time. No schoolwork allowed. This will save your brain and spirit.”
“Breathe! There is no way you can do it all. Pick one goal a month and focus on that rather than trying to achieve everything your first year.”
“Plan your work and work your plan. When plan doesn't work be prepared with plans B through Z. Become a connected educator and have conversations about your chosen profession. Connecting with other like-minded individuals will help you work through the challenges of teaching.”
“There's not enough time in the day — make a to-do list and prioritize, do as much as you can today, and then feel okay with saving the rest for tomorrow!”
“Balance your life. Breathe. Don't carry around stress.”
“Take things one step at a time. You can't do everything in your first years, but you can focus on strengthening your skills one at a time.”
On the Journey
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“Learn from other teachers, students, administrators, but do not try to be anyone else.”
“Reach out. Online and off, there are resources and folks willing to help. Know that every day is a new beginning, bringing new opportunities and challenges that define us as teachers. Take time to have fun with your students, they are the best part of the whole journey.”
“Follow your heart, and always be passionate about what you do.”
“Each day is a new day. Remember to ask for help. You will never truly see the rewards of your efforts as a teacher as they are often lifelong for others and will outlive you. Your craft is your legacy.”
“Be prepared to fight for yourself and your students, and don't accept any piece of advice or direction simply because it came from somebody with a title.”
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