I wish I could see a video of myself from my first couple years of teaching. I honestly think I could have won America's Funniest Home Videos. I remember feeling as if I was making everything up. Fortunately, I had several great mentors along the way. I had four years of college preparation classes in Education, and I still felt like a nervous wreck. If I had a chance to travel back in time and give myself some much needed advice, it would be this:
1. It is far better to be respected than liked. Your students do not want a pushover. They really do want someone who will respectfully challenge them to improve.
2. Ask to be observed more. By anyone that will take the time. Have people come in your room to see what you do and discuss things with you. This is the best way for you to improve. I do request more observations from my Principal every year. It never happens, but I request it.
3. To go along with that, get in other people's rooms. If no one will watch you, go watch other people. This will serve possibly two purposes: you may see things you won't do, or you'll see things you want to replicate.
4. Read as much as possible. Read anything you can get your hands on in regards to teaching and instruction.
5. Ask questions. To as many people as possible. You may think you are being annoying, but veteran teachers enjoy sharing their wisdom.
6. Avoid negative people. Surround yourself with positive, hard working people. The "Negative Nellies" will deplete all of your energy. They thrive on this. Fight the urge to join them. This may mean eating lunch by yourself, but you have papers to grade anyway.
7. Find a way to incorporate your passion into your classroom. Love to read? Start a book club. Love playing guitar? Teach kids during your lunch hour. Love to run? Start a running club. One way to love what you do is to do what you love.
8. Making a mistake is not the end of the world. Apologize, correct it, and move on. Your students will like the fact that you do make mistakes. They will learn how to handle them by watching you.
9. Handle all parental conversations with professionalism. Do not get caught in criticizing another teacher, the school or a program. Never criticize the place you work in public. It can not be that bad, they hired you, didn't they?
10.Try not to let what happens in your personal life affect the environment in your classroom. Do your best to mask the drama. The students are there to learn, not listen to you rant.
If I only knew this in the beginning of my journey. I probably wouldn't have listened anyway, I thought I knew it all!
Did I forget anything? Please continue to conversation by leaving a comment or reach out me on Twitter: @jcordery