Where do I start? Even after eight years I still feel new to teaching! Things are always changing and sometimes it can be tough to keep up. Yes, there are some areas where I know I do really well in, but others I feel I need to improve upon. Who feels me? Today I am going to share a few things that I wish I knew my first year of teaching in hopes to offer up some advice to other teachers out there, no matter how long you've been in the profession.
Being anxious or frazzled doesn't help anyone. Not you, not your students, not your staff. I remember back to my first year and am surprised I made it out alive! Don't get me wrong, I know I was fully capable, but there was so much to do - and learn - and grade. Teachers really are a rare breed that should be celebrated! Instead of allowing a student's actions or a parent email "get to you," take some deep breaths and really think about the situation before you react.
What a topic - parent emails. When I was younger I thought parents wanted to know every single thing from bad choices to good choices and everything in between. Let me just outline this for you:
1. Parents want to enjoy their time with their children after they have been at school all day. This doesn't mean that they aren't actively involved. What I am saying is, if Billy took someone's pencil, they don't necessarily need to know that.
2. Constant emails from the teacher can be irritating if it's the same topic over and over and over again.
3. You want to build a positive relationship with the parents, not seem like a tattletale.
4. Parents want to hear the bad and the good - not every single word their child said.
5. Find the time to send positive emails home, even if it's just a one sentence line!
6. Be consistent - If you commit to a weekly newsletter, send it. Don't over extend yourself. Maybe turn that weekly newsletter into a bi-weekly or monthly newsletter.
It's not attainable for most.
Need I say more?
We have so many standards to teach, review, assess... We have so many band aides to apply and hugs to give... And so many engaging lesson plans to make. Worrying about making your room Pinterest Worthy should be at the bottom of the list, if there at all.
Yes, everyone wants to walk into the perfect room, but really, who has that? You might look across the hall and think the teacher next door is absolutely the best, I know I do, but even they feel like their rooms are, "not done." Believe me, I've asked!
So, when you start to mentally beat yourself up about your class decor or perfect classroom library, just remember that the love that fills your classroom is felt (and seen) by any teacher, principal, parent, or student who comes into your room over the perfectly placed pom poms or labeled drawers.
Students are all different. Some just need more compassion and understanding. I'll never forget my first second grade class. It was a rough mix but they were the class that solidified my belief that teaching is my passion.
You are going to have a challenging student in your career, if not every year. Try to remember that even if they aren't expressing their feelings for you on the outside, you are most likely making a difference in their life.
I know. Everyone likes to be recognized and know for sure that they are doing a job well done. Think about it. That's why it feels so good to get a hand drawn picture or even a flower from a student. If your challenging student doesn't come around and give you that last day hug, that doesn't mean that you have failed that child.
I've learned that other child pick up on your patience and understanding toward the difficult child. You are going to have frustrating days or even years, but it's all how we learn to manage our classrooms that keeps this ship sailing. Reach out to other teachers or your families when you need to do so.
Please know that in teaching, you are making a difference.
My first year I shoved everything in files and even though they were labeled pretty, I had so many files that documents were hard to find! #nightmare.
I suggest buying some binders and organize them seasonally or by marking period. It will be so much easier to plan the following year!
You can even start using your filing cabinet for other things like storing games or manipulatives that you don't have room for on shelves!
I wish I would have incorporated my dog, Shilah into my classroom more my first year. It wasn't until my second year that I got this (my husband says, "huge) canvas of her. The kids LOVE it and they feel connected to her!
Even the parents love seeing this canvas in my room. They know that I want to kids to be more connected with me and my life.
Please stay tuned for more on this topic. I plan on mapping out how you can make your pet your classroom pet, step by step, on my blog this fall!
Instagram is so visual and I promise you will learn so much! It's also a way to keep a picture diary of what is going on in your classroom. You can make it private or open it up to the public depending on your comfort level.
This summer I've gotten so many organizational ideas that I can't wait to begin in my class. I've also connected with so many other teachers and I am comfortable asking them questions! If you don't have an Instagram account, get one immediately! Find me over @huskylovingteacher because I'd love to connect with you!