Virginia Beach City Public Schools is celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week May 1-5. We asked the division’s 2018 Teachers of the Year to reflect on their work and respond to four questions. This is the second of four articles to share their thoughts during Teacher Appreciation Week.
Whether you’re a teacher with four years of experience or four decades of experience, you remember your first year teaching and likely could write a book about what you wish you had known your first year in a classroom.
We asked the 2018 Teachers of the Year to share what advice they would give to a new teacher (the abbreviated version). Some narrowed it down to only a few words. Take a look at what they had to say.
“There is a much larger purpose to educating our next generation. We are helping to prepare them to make a living, a life, and to make a difference in the lives of others.”
“My advice would be:
- Start each day with a positive attitude and greet your students with a smile.
- Encourage your students to do their best, but not be afraid to make mistakes.
- Teaching is always changing. You have to learn to move with the times and be flexible.
- All students are different in the ways they behave and learn from year to year.
- You never know what each child is going through in their personal lives that could have an impact on their learning and behavior.
- Have your students be active participants in their learning.
- Talk to your students about their hobbies and other things that interest them.
- If your students know you respect them, they will respect you.”
“Build relationships with your students from day one. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Think outside the box. Go see your kids. Participate in extracurricular activities. Provide opportunities for your kids to experience things they’ve never done before. Enjoy each day, smile and laugh with your students!”
“When in the presence of veteran teachers practice your listening skills.”
“Be flexible. Know that every day, every bell, something unexpected can happen. A lesson can be a total flop. It could work for one group, but not another. That doesn’t make you a bad teacher. In fact, great teachers know that this is inevitable in our field and have to learn to think quickly and make necessary changes.”
“One piece of advice that I was given when I started really had nothing to do with actual teaching, yet I continue to pass it along: ‘Always be kind to the custodians, they help you with more than you will ever know.’ I have found this to be 100 percent true!”
“Make an active point in finding balance in your life during the first few years of teaching. If you are spending too much time pouring over lesson plans, grading and the various other responsibilities and expectations of the job, it can be counterproductive for you and the students. Ask your colleagues for advice on how to manage work and life. Seek to be your best self as a teacher and as a person, but also aim to love being both.”
“Expect to make mistakes. It’s ok! Learn from them and seek advice from the experienced teachers around you.”
“Don’t be afraid to try new things if the old isn’t working. It is ok for a lesson to not go well, but it is how you take what didn’t work and make it work the next time.”
“There is no perfect formula. Remember: “It’s take a village to raise a child.” We need each other to be successful, so use your resources. Be patient with yourself; we all continue to grow each year. After the first five years, be prepared to look back and reflect on your growth.”
“Love your subject. Be passionate about it. If you love what you are teaching, your energy and enthusiasm will shine through and make even the dullest parts of the lesson fun for students. If you don’t love it, then change it (if you can).”
“No one will tell you that the job of a teacher is not tough and there will be times when you don’t think you have the energy to do one more thing for one more child, but do it. You have THE all-important job and you will never regret giving yourself to the children who count on you.”
“I would advise new teachers of the following things: be consistent and do not recreate everything. Strong classroom management is a must and if you establish the rules and consequences for your classroom as well as follow through with them when broken, you will establish that sense of respect and high expectations your students will rise to meet. When starting out, accept the lessons and activities that veteran teachers have done and offer you as you will not have time to redo and recreate every possible lesson or activity in your first year. After the first year, you can use your experiences and what worked well and didn’t go well to edit or change any activity or lesson.”
“Work hard, learn from your mistakes and constantly seek to perfect, but know that our idea of perfection is always changing.”
“Take the time to get to know your kids beyond their academic profile and scores. Know their history, culture, interests, strengths and family background. When students know that you have a desire to get to know them on a personal level, they will always go above and beyond to give you their very best.”
“Teaching will cause all of your flaws and shortcoming to become evident. It will force you to look inside yourself and figure out how to do better and be better. Although it is uncomfortable and painful at times, make it a practice to regularly look at what you are doing as a teacher and ask yourself how you can do better and be better. Caring and inspiring teachers are among the most impactful people on earth.”
“I think I would advise the person to use two of my quotes: “Teach the way they learn,” and “Never leave them unsupervised.”
“Some advice I would give a new teacher is to not take yourself too seriously and hold your head high! I went my whole first year sounding very confident and in my head was spinning. This confidence, however, quickly took over as I learned more and more and no one saw me sweat it on the way.”
“Build relationships and get to know your kids as quickly as you can but remember, you are not there to be their friend. Once you say you are going to do something – good or bad, you have to follow through or else you will lose all credibility. Choose your words and battles carefully.”
“I would tell new teachers to always remember that teaching is not a job. Teaching is an opportunity. Every single day we are given the opportunity to change lives. We are given the opportunity to help mold a child into who they will become as an adult. We have the opportunity to make a difference in the world.”
“Treat your students as if they are your own. Show them you truly care and they will try to do their best. A great book to read each year before school starts is “What Great Teachers Do Differently 14 Things That Matter Most” by Todd Whitaker.”
“Teachers must be reflective and flexible in their teaching as well as have a growth mindset for continuous learning because one size does not fit all students who walk into a classroom. Teachers must continue to find strategies to meet the needs of each student academically as well as socially in order to aid them to the path of success.”
“Surround yourself with positive people. Go toward teachers who are passionate and LOVE their career. Avoid, at all costs, teachers who are negative and will bring you down. Everything you do is for the kids. Remember that when you are being buried under excessive amount of pressure. The kids should come first. They should be your curriculum. They should drive your daily instruction. They are why you got in to teaching. They need you, so be there for them.”
“Geraniums bloom in their own time…be patient, believe in the process and love them for their uniqueness.”
“I would ask them to ask two questions: Would you want to be a student in your own class? If students had a choice to come back to your class tomorrow, would they all show up?”
“Always remember why you chose this profession.”Tell your friends! Follow us!