Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Teacher Talk Tuesday!

First of all, let me say that I love being back in my element!  Meet the Teacher went SO well last night, and I am pretty sure that I have the most adorable students who ever lived.  It feels amazing to be welcomed with open arms by my new colleagues, parents, administrators, and support staff, and let's just say that may first day jitters are behind me now.  I am so thrilled to be a part of a fabulous new team, but in some ways, I feel kind of like a new teacher all over again.  Luckily, this time around, I have a few years of experience to fall back on.  When it comes down to it, is it really about the curriculum or the subjects that you teach?  Absolutely not!  It's about the kids!  I LOVE TEACHING KIDS... and that's why I keep going back year after year!
Of course, our Blog Hoppin' theme of the day is advice to new teachers, and I can't wait to share some of the things that have worked for me in the past.  To all of the new teachers out there, welcome to the profession!  You make not make millions... but the impact you will have on hundreds of students' lives is PRICELESS!  Good luck!
Top Ten Teaching Tips
1.  Don't take yourself too seriously!  Today, with high stakes testing, talks of merit pay and increasingly rigorous standards, it's easy to let stress bog you down.  Teachers are multi-taskers by nature and trade, but that doesn't mean that it won't wear on you after a while.  Infuse humor into your lessons, and don't be afraid to laugh at yourself.  Don't forget to have fun in the classroom!  It doesn't have to feel like "work".  :)
2.  Limber up!  Flexibility is so important to teaching, because every child is different on a day to day basis.  In order to be responsive to the needs of your students, it's important to be able to switch gears and go another direction when necessary.  Sometimes it's okay to deviate from Plan A... if Plan B is going to be more beneficial for your population of students.  Don't be afraid to take a risk for your kiddos!
3. Don't do more work than your students.  You won't be doing them any favors if you never give them opportunities to work independently or problem solve.  If we want to cultivate 21st century learners, we need to allow students to collaborate, think creatively, solve problems, and really THINK!  We can't do all of the thinking for them.  :)
4.  Take time for YOU!  At times, teaching can be all-consuming.  Give yourself permission to relax or do something you enjoy!  Teachers are givers, but in order to truly give your students the best, you need to take care of YOU! {I've found that I am much better at dispensing advice than I am at taking it... especially my own!}
5.  Simplify.  As much as I like to think I am capable of doing everything simultaneously, I can't do it.  Teachers wear so many hats as it is, so I really try not to heap too much extra stuff onto my proverbial plate.  I've become a lot more cognizant about keeping it simple in recent years.  So, essentially, don't be afraid to tweak systems to make them more manageable for you.  They won't do any good if you can't work out the logistics anyway!  Lesson learned.
6.  Avoid the Negative Nancy types and surround yourself with positive people! :)  Self-explanatory!
7.  Relationships are KEY... not only with your students... but also with colleagues, administrators, parents, custodians, secretaries, etc.  We are in a relationship business... and the more people you have in your "circle of trust"... the more success you will all have across the board.  Of course, we can never underestimate the power of communication & smiles!
8.  Organize your world!  Personally, I am a bit of a binder queen, but no matter what your preference is, you have to manage what could easily turn into a paper mountain.  As elementary teachers, we have rooms that are jam-packed with books, manipulatives, and a plethora of other educational goodies.  In order to use these materials effectively, you have to be able to find them!  Designate a place for everything, organize your paperwork, and then get ready to teach like a rockstar!
9.  Be prepared!  One of the greatest things I ever did was create a Sub Tub so that I wouldn't have to drag myself into work when I could barely drag myself out of bed to prepare for a substitute.  Do yourself a favor and have plans in place for unexpected absences.  Your tummy will thank you later!
10.  To foster life-long learners, become one yourself.  Never stop gobbling up books on best practices and ways to improve your teaching.  Work with mentors in your building that you want to replicate.  Write messages to your favorite bloggers.  Attend professional development sessions.  NEVER. STOP.  LEARNING! There's always more room to grow! 

Now that you've read my "words of wisdom"... {if you can call it that}... hop on over to read more!