You don’t go into teaching for the money. Don’t get me wrong, the pay isn’t terrible, and you still have the three best things about teaching to go with it: June, July, and August.
I kid that it’s the best part of teaching. But it certainly doesn’t hurt the cause.
The First Years of Teaching
Congratulations, you just got your first teaching gig! Maybe you found out a couple months ago, maybe you found out a week before school starts, either way, you’re in for your roughest year. Hopefully you’ve got a strong support system at your school, maybe a mentor program that hooks you up with a helpful teacher. Any way around it, you’ve got a whole curriculum to learn and a lesson plan for EACH day this year. And to differentiate for each child’s learning? Not to mention all the stuff you learned in your student teaching: anticipatory sets, pre-tests, etc. That’s enough to stress you out and keep you at work long after the bell rings. And did you just get a new child? Good luck.
Helpful Tips to Keep you Focused
Remember why you became a teacher. For some, it’s a love of reading, math, or whatever subject you choose. For others, it’s the chance to work with a brilliant group of people who will inspire and encourage you throughout your career. But I bet if you asked any teacher what their favorite part of teaching is, you’d be close to 100% on this response:
To make a strong connection with the students.
My cooperating professional back in grad school once told me:
“Try to make a meaningful connection with at least one student once a day.”
That was part of my teaching philosophy when I applied for my job 10 years ago, and it still is today. This means a lot to me for keeping focused on what is really important. Thanks, Joey.
Each day of teaching, if there is a child that I don’t know that much about, I will go over and ask him or her some question. “Do you play a sport?” “Do you play a musical instrument?” etc.
This helps to build a connection that allows for the rest of the problems of teaching to be eased. If I stress too much on a change in the curriculum, or a behavior plan, or whatever, I always revert back to the idea that “This is in the student’s best interest.”
Other things I focus on:
Few jobs allow you to think independently and creatively on a daily basis. Teaching thrives on this.
Teachers deal with a diverse group of people that changes drastically over the course of a year. It is a great thing to see that grow.
Lunch time is a great time to go and chuck a frisbee or kick a hackey sack with the kids. You get to see them in a different light, as opposed to academia. Even sit in with them in the band, or just watch a sport they play.
The hardest thing about teaching
Unfortunately, you have to say goodbye. All the effort you put in each year is suddenly erased as you prepare for the next batch of students heading into your grade level. Of course, when the students come back and say hello, it means the world, and you know why you became a teacher.
You made it through your Xth year of teaching! Make sure you put into focus why you chose to be a teacher in the first place. It will help you through the rough times of subject changes, staffing elimination, and others. And if you can’t find time to put all that in order, remember you’ve got June, July, and August to think about it.