First-Year Teaching Advice: The Best Piece of Advice

ConfidentI remember the worries I felt before I started my teaching internship. Would students like me? Would students be smarter than me? Would I be able to manage all the tasks required of a teacher such as turning in grades and weekly less plans on time, attend all faculty meetings, and have enough energy and patience to teach six classes that for the most are back to back. The answer to all of these questions became yes.

If I could go back in time, and give myself only one piece of advice for my first-year teaching it would be to show up with my best attitude and put in my best effort. Back then I would have probably said, What if I don’t have years of experience? What if a student rebels and refuses to follow classroom rules? What happens if I don’t turn in grades or lesson plans on time? Even though all of these scenarios happened to me, I learned from them, and I moved on.

When I show up to my classroom each morning, I make the promise that I will keep my best attitude and that I will do the best I can with the resources, the time, and the less-than-a-year teaching experience I have. Again and again my students teach me that all they need is a teacher who is willing to show up and actually teach. When I arrived mid-school year, I assured my students that I would stick with them until the semester ended (they’d had plenty substitute teachers before I arrived), and one student asked me, But are you actually going to teach? When students ask me that question I realize that they may have or have had teachers who showed up but didn’t teach.

It’s easy to say, I could have done better, but at the end of the day as long as you show up with your best attitude and put in your best effort, I promise there are solutions to every problem that pops up, and as you continue to show up to actually teach you’ll slowly become the expert on teaching.

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