Useful Advice And Tips For Teachers

Summer’s close is upon us and fall is just around the corner. As a teacher my mind is already a whir with thoughts of the upcoming school year. New students, familiar co-workers, and that old filing cabinet filled to the breaking point await me. As I went into the next school year, I reflect and remind myself of these five important pieces of advice accrued through my 7 years of teaching.

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1. When your principal comes to you with new curriculum or legislation that must be followed or a new building plan (you know he’s coming!) meet the new plan with a prepared mind. Rather than groan and moan, dig in, attempt to have knowledge about the ins and outs so you can do your best. Chances are that it will be around for at least a few years, better to get on board than be left behind.

2. Read, Read, READ! Read books featuring main characters the same age as your students. As a reading teacher I frequently do this and it is amazing the insight I have into my students lives’ through the thoughts, confessions and melodramas of the characters’ lives. My favorite titles for my middle school students: Eight Keys by Suzzane LaFleur and Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

3. Don’t be afraid to repeat and recycle. We all have those all-star lessons that we repeat and refine each year. We love them, our students love them and we love showcasing their amazing results at parent teacher conferences. Do not be afraid to keep these lessons in your yearly repertoire. They work well for a reason! But, by all means, we also have those lessons that completely flopped. Even though we were really excited about it. Even though we incorporated technology into it. Even though we spent our own money on the project. It was still just plain bad. Don’t be afraid to cut your losses and move on.

4. A Parent’s Perspective. Before I was a mom, I resented that parents and other professionals doubted my teaching abilities, because I “just didn’t understand”. Now, as a mom… I do, understand. When dealing with a difficult student and tricky situation, I think, what would I do if he were mine? How would I hope my son’s teacher would handle this or talk to him? These simple questions almost always lead me down a more compassionate path. Tell me what kid couldn’t use a little more of that?

5. Vacation is vacation. Do not take those holiday breaks and long weekends for granted. Take some space from school and then come back refreshed. I sense that I can be a good teacher because I have those breaks, starting each school year and each semester with a new sense of purpose and ambition.

So love these last few days of summer. Put away the classroom catalogs. Leave school email until Monday. Read one more beach novel. Take your kids to the zoo. Play a last round or two of golf. And then, when the calendar turns to September, get your cup of caffeine and get yourself to school,  energized and ready for another year!

Photo Credit: Yahoo Picture Library; jay-l at Tuesday, April 20, 2010