Career Skills New Teachers Need to Succeed in Their First Year
The only thing harder than being a teacher is being a new teacher. Sure, you learn all about the trade in school, but as you walk into your classroom on day one, you’ll realize within the first ten minutes that everything you learned in school only scratched the surface of what it is like to teach full-time on your own.
You will learn the ropes eventually, but the process is sure to be nerve-racking as you do. In this article, we try to alleviate your burden a little bit by taking a look at a few skills every first-year teacher should work on as they advance through their first year on the job.
Education is a highly dynamic field. Every classroom in the country is completely different from the next. Different personalities. Different ability levels. Different expectations and goals. Going into your first your as an educator, you will probably have a very clear idea of what you want and expect to accomplish with your class.
While it’s good to have goals being able to adjust them in response to what is happening in your classroom is key.
Things will change. Your students will surprise you. To best cater to their needs, you need to be ready to adjust your plans in real-time.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that you may need to be flexible in what you expect from your students. This has always been the case but never more so than now, following two years of almost completely remote learning.
Many students fell considerably behind during this time and some missed almost two years of instruction due to a lack of access to digital technology at home. Don’t be surprised if some of your children need a refresher on things they would usually be expected to know.
Patience is a skill that teachers of every level will need, not just to better serve their students but also to keep from going crazy while on the job. Most long-term educators will tell you that the majority of kids mean well, and legitimately want and enjoy a good education once you are able to reach them where they are at.
Well-intentioned or not, however, there will always be one or two kids in the bunch who will inevitably throw a curve ball your way.
Even when the kids are behaving, there will be situations that will test your patience. Maybe you and a coworker are struggling to sync up style-wise. Maybe the administration is making things harder than they need to (most long-term teachers will also tell you that this is a common problem).
Whether it’s coming from a parent, a student, a coworker, or an employer, there will almost always be at least a little tension there to complicate your day.
When these situations crop up, the key is to keep a level head. Not only will patience help you survive the long haul, but it will also set a good example for your students. You expect them to be able to stand up to pressure, right? Show them how it’s done by leading through example.
If Covid-19 taught us anything, it’s that things can change at the drop of a hat. In a school setting, there are an almost unlimited number of ways this can happen.
Notable among these are remote learning days. While education may be permanently back to a primarily in-person setting, most schools across the country spent thousands of dollars on the digital infrastructure required for remote learning. Pandemic or not, they intend to use it.
Teachers now need to be able to fluidly adapt their lesson plans to the online space. When there is a viral outbreak at school, or the weather is simply not very good, most schools will now just hop online for a remote learning day.
By and large, this is a good thing. It keeps kids from falling behind. It keeps teachers from staying in until mid-June making up snow days.
Be ready. You never know when you might need to adapt your lessons.
Intention to accept when you are wrong
Teachers make mistakes, same as anyone else. Unfortunately, they usually make them in front of 20-30 extremely impressionable viewers. Your kids will notice when you mess up. While you don’t need to hold a town hall over every little mistake, it’s smart to at least acknowledge your errors with grace.
Not only will this show your students that you are fair, but it will also provide important context for how you expect them to behave in the face of a mistake.
There’s always more to learn
Teachers, like their students, never stop learning. While you may not be ready to go back to school right away, it’s a good thing to at least remain open to. Getting a master’s or even an online doctorate in education not only teaches you new skills, they also open you up to higher salaries and other forms of career advancement.