This is a guest post by Pat Hensley from the blog Successful Teaching. As we gear up for the upcoming school year, So You Want To Teach? is featuring articles about making this school year the best year ever.
I have been teaching about 30 years now and I still love teaching! I have taught all grade levels including the university level and I still feel the same way. After teaching special education classes for 28 years in public schools, I now teach teachers getting their master’s degree in special education and write a blog called Successful Teaching. I really appreciate Joel for giving me the opportunity to be a guest writer on his blog.
Of course, at the beginning of the year, I have butterflies in my stomach and I promise myself that “this will be the best school year ever!” I’m sure that you have hoped for the same but I thought I would share 10 tips that have helped me have a great year.
- Drink lots of water. Staying hydrated helps me keep the stressful pace that I know I will have every day. Sometimes I will even end up missing my lunch time because I am so busy but I will not skip drinking water.
- Use the bathroom when I need to and don’t put it off if I don’t have to. I can’t tell you how many kidney infection I suffered from when I was a new teacher.
- Stay ahead of the game. I tried to run off papers I needed at least 3 to 4 days in advance if at all possible. It never fails that when I wait until the last minute, the copy machine will break down and I’m ready to pull my hair out.
- Don’t take people for granted. Remember to thank people for the little things they do for me because they will remember that I appreciated their help. Then if I ever need help with something bigger, they will be there for me.
- Establish a rapport with my students’ parents/guardians. Life will be much easier for me in the long run. This means contacting them on a regular basis and finding things that their child does right. Positive words go a very long way.
- Don’t get behind in paperwork. If something is due in the future, I try to get it done as soon as possible so it isn’t hanging over my head. This also allows me to make changes if necessary before the deadline.
- Develop a support system with other educators. This can be people at my own school, district, state or even online. Knowing that I can talk to people who understand my worries, rants, or thrilling moments can really help me feel good about what I do.
- Keep a little memo pad and pen or voice recorder in my pocket. It is great for writing down things I don’t want to forget when I am nowhere near my computer or paper.
- Listen to those who offer advice. Many times they have made mistakes and are trying to help you from making the same mistakes. I need to be open to what they are suggesting and the possibility that they really know what they are talking about. This information may actually make my life easier.
- Trust my gut feeling. Even though I said I need to listen to experienced teachers, I need to also trust myself. If it doesn’t feel right or comfortable, I don’t need to do it just because they recommend it. This is the time to use critical thinking skills. I need to think about where this person is coming from because if they are angry and resentful about something, I may not want to do what they suggest. But if they suggest something that has worked successfully for them in the classroom, this may be something that I would be willing to try.
Our schools start back the second week in August so it is time to start gearing up. I hope my tips help you as much as they have helped me. It is time to plan on having the best school year ever!