Advice for Future Teachers Graduating This Month

Episode 002

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Clif Mims is a Christian, husband, father, teacher, cancer warrior, and fan of the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Memphis Grizzlies.

17 thoughts on “Advice for Future Teachers Graduating This Month”

  1. There’s no way to know if you really like teaching in the first year. Relax. It takes many years to figure out what you want to say, and how you want to say it. Don’t expect earth moving pedagogy out of yourself too soon. Do expect to get a little better at it every day.


  2. Let your students know you genuinely care about them. Make connections with them. Find out what they do outside of school. What kind of music they like. What shows they are watching. Let them feel that what you are doing is not just a job that it is a passion. Have fun! If your kids feel you care about them, they will go out of their way to do their best for you.

  3. Teaching is not one of those “leave it at the office” jobs. These are kids’ lives we’re talking about. But you’ve got to find a way to balance your home and professional life or you will burn out. Make sure you schedule time each week to do things for yourself; you will be a much happier teacher that way!

    Find another teacher you can trust to ask questions, and share your good and bad days. If that teacher is in the building, that’s great. But if not, I recommend Friend teachers there and you will be amazed at how friendly, supportive, and generous a PLN can be.

    Teaching is a lot of work, but it does get easier. Give your best efforts to your students, but prioritize! Do the most important things first and leave the building when your own personal time limit has expired. Take the help offered by your co-teachers. Use the resources available online. No need to reinvent the wheel.

    Keep learning. It will energize you! You’ll learn the most from your students. Make sure to tell them when you’ve learned something.

    Stay away from gossipers, naysayers, and pessimists. They will do nothing for you.

    Believe that there is a hero inside each child, just waiting to be discovered. Keep looking if you start to doubt. Write down and read that child’s good points at night until you start to believe it. It works! Remember if you give up on a child, they can see it in your eyes. You may be that child’s last chance. Care enough to keep the bar raised high, in academics and behavior. Care enough to get to know your students well; then you’ll know where the bar should be. Care enough to find that child’s talents, even if you have to go to a soccer game on a Saturday.

    Don’t forget to laugh, smile, and play sometimes. They will love it, and so will you. You are not a miracle worker, you can only do so much. But do what you can, and once in a while, a miracle happens!

  4. As a parent my advice is to think outside the box — try new things — create your own curriculum. Be engaging and use as much technology as possible. It’s our future.

  5. Don’t ever stop being a learner. And – remember the most powerful learning experiences you’ve had in your lifetime. Think about the common elements. Invariably, the common elements include hands-on learning that require higher-order thinking and problem solving, offer a chance to be creative, and a good relationship with and support from the teacher. It’s easy to get bogged down with “covering content” from textbooks and prepping for standardized tests. Don’t let that drown out the opportunities to build an environment that can lead to powerful learning for your students.

  6. As a superintendent, I am looking for teachers who are willing to integrate technology and differentiate instruction based on student needs and interests. Please do not teach the way you were taught, our kids deserve better than the same old thing. The world has changed to much since then. Do not be afraid to fail. I love the teachers who will try new things even at the risk of failing.

    Good luck to each of you.

  7. Don’t try to be their pal…don’t try to be their friend. Be their teacher. Be a role model in your actions and attitude. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be kind, caring, and compassionate. It means to set an example. They’ll be watching you and how you conduct yourself.

  8. First of all, I’d like to congratulate all of you for choosing a remarkable profession, one in which you will grow everyday, both from your colleagues and your students. You’ve all been chosen to be child advocates…please fight for them everyday!

    When I first began teaching, there was no way to know everything. (1) Lean on the teachers that are still walking around with that sparkle in their eyes, for they will help you in times of need & celebrate with you during your successes.

    (2) Believe in your students. The MOST important aspect of teaching is to build a relationship with your students. When you have rapport with your students, you have already won many battles. When students know that you truly care about them, they will come ready to learn everyday.

    (3) Make learning fun. If the students are engaged in the learning process, behavior problems will melt away & students will remember the content because you made it meaningful!

    (4) Create a positive, inviting learning environment. Make sure that your room is filled with great literature, a cozy nook (I have a couch & coffee table), and give students ownership in setting the stage for classroom routines and procedures! If they make the rules, they are more likely to follow them!

    (5) Reflect often, but don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember, that failure leads to success! As teachers, we’ve all had our moments where we must try again tomorrow! Good luck in your endeavors & remember that you are now a role model for your students. They are always watching! ?

  9. If you don’t have control of your class you can’t teach anything.

    Students want and need to feel secure in order to learn. Set limits and standards for behavior and class routines, make them clear, and then enforce them. Whether they admit it or not, children want to know how they are supposed to behave. They will test the limits to help figure that out, and to make sure the limits can be depended upon. Kids are pretty practical, so until they are sure where the boundaries are and that they can trust you to enforce them, they will keep testing you to find out. The limits make them feel secure, because deep down they know those limits protect them as well as others, and because you are really in charge they can consistently count on you to do what you say and that you will always take care of them.

    Whenever, possible, remove argumentative students to a private arena for more serious correction\discussion. Removing their audience and having to deal with you more directly sets a whole new tone to the discussion and usually takes some of the wind out of their sails. Having the rest of the class wondering what’s going on while you correct a student isn’t necessarily a bad thing either.

    When you correct students be firm and clear, but always remind them that it is their behavior you disapprove of. I routinely start correction with, “I still like you, John, but I don’t like the way you are acting right now.” When we finish our discussion, I ask the student to repeat out loud, what he is going to do differently “to solve this problem” so he is clear about what he can do differently and knows that I don’t view him personally as a problem.

    Don’t be afraid to call parents. You should assume they are on your side and care about what their children are doing. When I have a particularly argumentative or disruptive student, picking up the phone in the middle of class to politely explain the problem the student is causing and how much class time is being wasted by having to deal with it, and then asking the parent “to please talk to your child” almost always straightens things out
    and sends an effective message to the rest of the class about the immediacy of consequences. Even if you can’t reach the parent immediately, the fact that you will stop everything to call, rather than waste more class time listening to a child try to argue or putting up with his disruptive behavior, is a strong deterrent to the whole class. While that may seem time consuming or like “overkill”, a few conspicuous phone calls early in the year can set a tone for a class the whole rest of the year and save a lot of time dealing with similar class disruptions in the long run.

    Remember to care more about your students than your content.

  10. Take every opportunity to learn something new. Just because your formal education maybe ending does not mean you should stop learning. Things will be asked of you that we cannot imagine today. Things will also be asked of your students we cannot imagine today. Take every opportunity to learn and embrace the changes sure to come. Make sure to pass this lesson on to your students as well. It could be the most important lesson you can teach them. Good luck to you Class of 2009!

  11. The teaching profession holds a dual role, teacher and learner, never forget your role as a learner. Modeling life long learning is essential for students, don’t be afraid to be a co learner in your classroom.

    Robin Ellis’s last blog post..Self Directed Learning

  12. This goes out to the graduates who are still looking for their first classroom: remember that you are passionate about learning and you are passionate about students. Be confident in expressing and embracing that passion when applying and interviewing. Administrators do notice the first year teachers who are flexible, energetic, and will to get their feet wet. And have fun! You have chosen the most rewarding profession there is.

  13. 1) Read Harry Wong’s “1st Days of School” – establish routines and procedures; this way take away the need to “manage” as you used to know it.
    2) Remember: “…learning appears to be enhanced when students understand what is expected of them, get recognition for their work, learn quickly about their errors, and receive guidance in improving their performance” – John Goodlad in A Place Called School —> If what you’re doing doesn’t match up with these key areas, then re-think what you’re doing.
    3) Just because you “did things that way” as a student doesn’t mean it’s the way it should be done as an educator.
    4) Find colleagues that do things “differently.” As them why.

    Matt T.’s last blog post..Open letter to "21st Century School Authorities"

  14. 1st year teacher here.
    Get a routine going in class. The kids want to know what to expect… especially those squirrely rebellious types.

  15. Ask yourselves, are your students attending to learning? If not – if they are sleeping, talking, walking around the room – know you need to restructure classroom management and think about if you are providing engaging, student-centered instructional strategies. Also, don’t assume parents are involved – call or email parents and get them on board if you are having problems OR successes with their child.

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