My decision to go back to school, saving time, teacher ed, finding a good school to teach in for your first year, what I did not know, my new ebook, more.
When I went back to school as a nontraditional student, I followed a self-imposed timeline. Mostly, I wanted to save time and not have too many student loan payments to make. I had many more English credits than anything else, so I decided to go for a teaching certificate in this subject. Also a plus: I enjoyed English and writing. I thought I could inspire my students and have fun teaching this subject too.
As many of my readers know, hindsight is 20/20. Now I wish I had chosen art as my teaching subject. Even though some art classes get students with behavior problems dumped into their classes too, I believe that some new art teachers have the chance to get some students who actually want to be there. I don't know if having a different subject emphasis would have helped me enjoy my first teaching role more though - by itself. But it would have been fun anyway, to take some more studio classes. Back to the subject.
I was a Teacher Ed Student. Some if what I did NOT know was...
Student and novice teachers: Prepare for a rude awakening if you have a class of students who don't even want to be there. This can be so difficult that you may think of quitting the profession, or you may be shoved in that direction by others. I did not know this could even happen.
I was lucky when I was in school. I went to an excellent grade school, high schools and great colleges too. Plus, I actually liked writing and reading. I guess I was pretty naive, and didn't check out the support system for new teachers at my first job before it was too late.
I know now you won't find eager students in every school. And sometimes classes are made up of all kinds of students with problems. Why is this? I think maybe that clustering problem students in one class can help other teachers because then they won't have them in their classes. Or it could be ignorance by administrators of what makes a balanced and good classroom.
Regardless, many students in my classroom had pre-existing behavior problems, and I could not get much help with them, even as a new teacher. The reason for this? I think it's because some schools can't afford to (or just don't want to) test all students, in order to see if they need special help.
And another reason some people at some schools don't want new teachers to test students as they are taught to do in college is because it might show some great lags in ability that may require special help, which they also can't afford. No Child Left Behind? I don't think it worked, because the funding was not sent along with the new law. So teachers and administrators have had to do pretty weird things, like maybe skimp services. There is plenty of blame to go around on this situation, I am sure.
All this can be problematic at the least for a new teacher. But there are some handy things that new teachers can learn to help themselves, and things to look for when looking for a first (or later) job.
What is New Teacher Induction?
Some schools have what is called a Teacher Induction program that includes support from other teachers that are not on the grading team. Some schools even introduce new teachers to the community and help them acclimate to school culture before they teach. Wow. And some awesome schools help teachers with classroom management even before the first class starts. They WANT their new teachers to succeed, and help them do just that. This sounds great!
The most important skill a new teacher can have is Classroom Management.
It makes everything else you do go smoother.
There is an excellent book called The First Days of School in which Harry Wong and Rosemary Wong explain some great ways to achieve organization and discipline in the classroom.
A new student teacher or intern doesn't just need a book, however, to be successful at teaching or classroom management, the #1 subject new teachers need help with. He or she needs a lot of support from other teachers, real hands-on help.
My suggestion is to follow Dr. Wong's advice AND make sure your first teaching assignment is at a school with a New Teacher Induction program that is at least a week long BEFORE classes. Also make sure that you will have somebody to call if you ever have a problem. Check your equipment - especially your phone, heating, books, etc. You will thank me!
There is a lot more I am going to share with people in a new ebook I will have out this year. I still have some tweaking to do on it, but I am hopeful I can complete it soon. The title is, What Not to Do as a New Teacher. I hope this new ebook will really help new teachers find a great first job and continue with teaching after that.
I have been working on it a lot, adding new suggestions and tips to help all new teachers and student teachers. Do you have a tip you would like me to share in my book? I welcome all suggestions.
All for now,
Former and current nontraditional student
PS: Here are more publications by the Wongs:
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