New Teacher Advice

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This is an article that I have written as a response to Bowman’s open call on his website. If you don’t follow him already, you should!! He is doing some really great things!!

I have been teaching for 10 years. For the past 3 years (and the upcoming school year) I have hosted a student teacher in their standard student teaching placement from Syracuse University. I am by no means, however, an expert. The single thing that I have to offer my students, prospective teachers, and “new teachers” is to never stop trying to be better. Don’t ever settle on thinking you are good enough. Go to workshops. Continue to take college courses. Follow fellow educators on twitter. Read blogs of teachers that you relate to. Heck, start your own blog! The list goes on and on.

I have never witnessed a great teacher who is reluctant to change. I had the pleasure of having lunch with a Social Studies teacher who was only a couple of years from retirement. I was amazed one time how he told me that at the end of every year he threw every test and quiz he had written during the course of the year. He felt that he would start teaching to his assessments if he did not do this rather than assess what he taught. I was floored. Here was someone who “outsiders” would assume is just coasting until retirement. What these outsiders don’t know, however, is that he was a stellar teacher because of his constant willingness and desire to adapt to his students. He was willing to change to hone his craft right up until the end of his career. In order to be effective he understood the necessity to be willing to change.

This is the advice I always give to my student teachers; always be changing . Teaching to me is less about the product and more about the process. Is it about the ability to factor trinomials with leading coefficients other than 1? Or is it about the process or the journey that is taken in order to be able to understand how to factor said trinomials? In order to stay relevant, you must adapt the process to the students are currently enrolled in your class even if the end product will look the same. There is a ton of “practical” advice to be given to new teachers, but in my heart, I think it all boils down to the willingness to adapt as a young teacher.

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4 thoughts on “New Teacher Advice

    Fawn Nguyen said:
    June 21, 2012 at 5:59 am

    Thank you for this: he was a stellar teacher because of his constant willingness and desire to adapt to his students. Bravo!

    […] on Room 289 Math […]

    Sarah said:
    June 24, 2012 at 2:44 am

    Thank you so much for this. I’m thankful for and slightly overwhelmed by all of the advice that is being shared. This will be my first year teaching, and I love how you’ve given me one thing I can focus on that encompasses the other advice. If and when I start to get overwhelmed, this gives me the freedom to choose what I think will be best for my students and then change and adapt as necessary.

    thosewhoteach said:
    June 24, 2012 at 5:06 am

    Great advice! I’ve taught English for six years, and part of what makes the job so difficult, yet stimulating is changing my approach to old material often, along with teaching new courses/novels.

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