November is Reader Appreciation Month at So You Want To Teach? This year’s focus is First Year Teaching Tips. There’s still room if you want to participate! Contact me and let me know your answer to this question:
What are some things you wish you had known before you started your first year of teaching?
Today’s response is from David Warlick, the author of the wildly popular 2¢ Worth.
It is important to note that when I interviewed for my first teaching job and was offered the position, I didn’t know that I had been interviewing for a Math vacancy, and they didn’t know that they has been interviewing a Social Studies teacher. I accepted the job, however, and proceeded to have an utterly miserable year. By Christmas, I had registered to take the Civil Service exam so that I could become a rural postal carrier.
The next year, I was offered the social studies position at the same school and the entire experience changed for the better — much better.
There were two very important lessons that I learned that first year. Number one, “Don’t take it personally.” Teaching middle school students is, at times, struggle, and they will lash out as 12 year olds do. It isn’t aimed at you. Let it slide and move on.
Second, I learned that the job, our mission, is critically important. It is not about being a teacher. The job is about working hard and being inventive, to help your students learn and grow. Scientific research is helpful. But the best help comes in getting to know your students, and learning how to open their way to knowledge.
Finally, my experiences in the early years of my teaching may not be relevant within the context of this publication. When I entered the classroom, the personal computer, as we know it (keyboard, screen), had not yet been invented. At that time, I had no reason to believe that teaching would change in any substantial way over the next 30 or 35 years. Of course technology, and the changing nature of information, have dramatical altered not only how we teach and learn, but also what it means to be educated.
The sense of a shifting profession is not over. There will be technologies and practices occurring ten years from now, or five years from now, that we are not even imagining, and they will likely have an impact on what and how our students learn, not to mention how we learn.
A former state school board member in North Carolina said, “You go to college for your first job.” You get your education degree today for your first few years as a teacher.
It’s going to change!
You’re going to have to change.
It’s going to be intensely exciting.