Reader Appreciation 2008: Clix Reader Appreciation by Joel Wagner - November 12, 2008July 1, 20101 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 Clix, the author of Epic Adventures Are Often Uncomfortable. Things I wish I knew when I was a first-year teacher: Backward Design – Reviewing the standards and keeping them in mind as I plan my units and my lessons helps me to clarify for the students what they need to learn. Each year will continue to get better (at least, as of the first four years!) as long as you continually review what’s working and what’s not working and examine WHY. Sometimes, though, you still have times of incredible frustration. Minimize grading in every way possible; returning graded work FAST is incredibly difficult, but also essential. (It may not be as difficult if you’re not an English teacher; I don’t know.) I knew that having a support system would be important; I didn’t realize that it would most likely save both my sanity and my career! Whenever a class leaves the room for the day, pick up any supplies that have been abandoned – paper, pens, pencils, erasers, whatever. This has provided me with enough supplies that I always have some to loan out. Being responsible for other people’s money is terrifying! Fill out receipts RIGHT AWAY and hand the money in to the secretaries as soon as possible! Have back-up supplies on hand for anything you’re not willing to purchase out of pocket. Purchase orders can take longer than expected to be approved, and then there’s shipping. Don’t expect to get reimbursed for anything you buy without prior approval in writing from an appropriate supervisor. (I knew that one already, but it bears repeating!) You will spend less time at the copying machine and use fewer copies if you require that students answer on notebook paper and give the photocopies back to you. Very few students will be the type of student you were when you were in school, no matter what type of student you were. There are lots of excellent books on teaching out there. If your library does not have a book you’d like to use, see if you can check it out through interlibrary loan. You can also take a notebook to Borders or Barnes & Noble and study from their nice, new books without paying a cent (you’re just not allowed to take them with you when you leave). Joel WagnerJoel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.