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Back to School: Wisdom from a Beginning Teacher

August 17, 2012

In one of the classes that I routinely teach, I am supporting teacher candidates as they prepare for their upcoming student teaching experiences. Typically these are students I have known since they entered our teacher preparation program. Yes, I am invested in their success and delight in their professional growth. For this class I always invite a student from the previous semester, someone who has successfully completed student teaching and has often secured a teaching position, to answer student questions and give advice. They are new teachers in their first classrooms. Over the years many of my students have returned to visit. I am always amazed at their growth and newly found confidence.

They sometimes have commitments that prevent them from visiting our class, but they often send advice for me to pass on. I am sharing one of those messages that I received some time ago. As all of us are beginning new school years, I thought all of this advice would be useful…..whether you are a student teacher, a new teacher, or an experienced teacher this is an inspiring message.

I am so sorry I cannot attend your class ……….

One thing you can tell them is that all this hard work they are doing will pay off. My coursework has prepared me so much thus far. When you get that phone call that they want you to be a teacher in their school, it is worth all the lesson plans and assignments along the way! Tell them to keep up the good work and get excited to student teach. Make sure they make connections in their schools. This is how I was hired! Also stress the importance (as you did to me) to get that principal in your classroom to see you teach. I had him come see me in the beginning and end of student teaching. It is scary to ask, BUT do it! Then ask for things you can work on…not “tell me all the positives.” You are new and are learning. They understand this. Collect everything and anything from your cooperating teacher. Make sure you send a thank you letter to your cooperating teachers, supervisors, and the principal. They are helping you. Stay positive, make friends, and treat ALL students with respect. Keep a journal…when you look back on it, it reminds you how far you have come. It is a great feeling.

You know I like lists. These are the points I want to remember. How about you?

  • Teaching is hard work, but the joys are many.
  • Build relationships in your school community.
  • Be excited.
  • Ask for feedback and use it.
  • Thank those people who are supporting you.
  • Stay positive.
  • Make friends
  • Treat all students with RESPECT.
  • Reflect.

Thank you to my former student who gave permission to share this message.

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