What I've Learned This Year by Mr. Joe McClung
In his post for the 2008-2009 school year, Mr. McClung had some great advice for first year school teachers. We anticipate a lot when we decide to become teachers, but there's still much to learn. A few of his points really hit home. I think I will be referring back to this post a lot when I have a class of my own.
Mr. McClung first mentions "How to Read the Crowd." I'll admit that sometimes I get so caught up in all of the little details, making sure the finished product is above and beyond what was expected. I mean, I just wanted to make a great impression on whoever was in charge. But no matter how much effort I put into that whole process, I would inevitably fail if my audience can't comprehend it.
Another lesson for me is to "Be Flexible." I have to break from the habit of making sure everything is done perfectly. Life isn't perfect, nor is any lesson I will ever plan. I'm only setting myself up for disappointment. If I go in with the attitude that the lesson can change and it's okay, the days will go much smoother.
"Communication is the best medicine." If we have a problem that needs to be resolved, how is anyone going to know unless we communicate it? No one can read minds. If there is something that needs attention, and we say nothing, then we have no right to complain about it. If we talk about it, however, we have the chance to build stronger, meaningful relationships with other teachers and students.
As educators, we must "Be Reasonable." When we hold high expectations for our students and they fail to meet those expectations, we may become upset. No one in this world, however, is perfect. If a students falls shy of our expectations, we must "simply pick them up after they fail, dust them off, and encourage them to try again."
"Don't Be Afraid of Technology." Technology really is essential to our way of life. But like Mr. McClung said, we shouldn't become so overwhelmed by technology that we give up before we start. As with most things we learn, it may take a little time and practice to get used to. It's important to embrace technology, though, considering it's effects on all that we do today.
Another important lesson is to "Listen to Your Students." Our students will feel much more at ease with us if we build a genuine relationship with them. They want to know we care, so we should try to understand their wants and needs. This will help make for a more wholesome classroom experience.
"Lastly...Never Stop Learning." It's impossible to think that one day we will have learned enough. The world is always changing and we constantly have to adapt to it. So why not let that filter into our classrooms? We will expect our students to learn on a daily basis. It would seem a little hypocritical of us to be unwilling to the same.
After his third year of teaching, Mr. McClung experienced many changes that added to his career. He began by mentioning "Know Who Your Boss Is." I think this applies to a lot of areas, but it's very easy to get wrapped up in what people think of you. As a teacher, it's just as easy to get so consumed that you forget about your own students; however, the students are the whole reason we get into teaching. With that in mind, we should keep our focus on them rather than how we appear to the administrators. Mr. McClung also made sure to mention that we shouldn't let our personal life affect our professional life. The students deserve our undivided attention and we need to avoid letting anything personal adversely affect our performance at school.
Sometimes it's hard being an optimist and maintaining a positive outlook, especially if you're surrounded by those that aren't quite as positive. So another thing Mr. McClung learned was "Don't Expect Others to be as Excited About Change as You Are." I share the same view as Mr. McClung in that I love new ideas and challenges. And although I may be very ready and willing to undertake those challenges while others may not, I can't let them discourage me. I will reap whatever benefits from that experience that I can and apply it to my life and my profession. I want the best for my students, so I need to be open to go to any length to get there... Which kind of leads into his next thought, "Don't Be Afraid To Be An Outsider." I'm not getting into this profession to show off and gain the approval of my colleagues. Again, my focus should be on the students. If my practices aren't falling in line with everyone else's, but they're to the benefit of my students, then so what?
"Don't Touch the Keyboard." If I learned anything growing up, it was by making mistakes. My parents believed that I would never learn for myself if they kept intervening. That lesson stayed with me my whole life, and I can very well relate it to teaching. If we truly want our students to succeed, we have to accept that they need to struggle a little to get there. The experience will be so much more valuable and stay with them a lot longer in life than if we were to do it all for them.
Finally, "Don't Get Comfortable." Something that might be very easy to do in this profession. But, like Mr. McCLung mentioned, "we cannot afford to be passive in education; we need to be willing to be 'movers and shakers' and be advocates for the changes that need to happen in our schools." Imagine how much more of an asset we would seem to be if we were constantly seeking new ways to improve ourselves and the education system. The world needs more people like that.