Boxes are packed and stacked, ready to go. It is just about time to move into my new place in a new area to start my new career. The feeling is altogether surreal; knowing that this was what I set out for six years ago. I am entirely too analytical about these life moments.
In any case, there are so many things to do before school begins in just over a week and a half! As a new teacher navigating the trenches, I am finding that the more I find out, the more questions I have. At this point, I almost just want school to start so I can figure out my bearings, meet the students, and have a solid view of what it is I am preparing for. Substitute teaching really helped to move past a fear of walking into an unknown situation and being prepared, but this is so much more. How do you develop a curriculum based on hundreds of students you have never met? Where do you begin? This is what I hope to keep in mind as the school year begins:
Procedures. My plan, and the countless teachers I have heard from is to focus on classroom routines, behavior expectations, and logistics until everyone is comfortable. The first week of classes and into the second, is now set. The specials have a four day rotation, each group needs to know and understand how the class will run, and have a bit of fun along the way, it is music after all! For elementary students, this will mean repeating how we enter the classroom, where we sit, how we sit, how/if we ask to leave the room or move from our seat. What are the discipline procedures? What are the rewards systems? Students are the most comfortable when they know what to expect. When developing our procedures, I must be prepared to consistently exhibit and enforce every aspect to a T. That is not to say a rule or routine never change. There has to be flexibility, and if something is ineffective, inefficient, or disruptive, there will be changes.
Flexibility. Looking forward, I should stretch! There are going to be many new situations and students I have never worked with before. And we have to be ready to face those moments and solve those problems! Accommodations for various needs, changes in the lessons on the fly, making use of teachable moments.
Perhaps that is what really drew me to teaching, the problem solving. I love math and puzzles, anything to challenge the brain to bend in different ways. This is a much grander scale with a classroom full variables that can change drastically in seconds. Social science at its finest. How far down the rabbit hole?
Forgiving. I know that I need to prepare myself for some bumbling around along the way. We will never be perfect, but we can be resilient! If a lesson goes astray, move on. Reflect later why it did not work, learn from it, and grow. This is a learning environment and we will learn! Forgive the blunders, use them as an opportunity to bounce forward.
Attitude. A teacher’s perception of a task has a great deal of impact on the “buy in” of the students. Take pride in the details of transitions, setup of the class, organization of the board. Create a positive energy where they will thrive and feel supported. Take to heart that each action has a consequence, and try to make them positive. Remember your favorite teachers and classes, why were they your favorite?
Reflection. This is vital to improvement. Have some appreciation for where you have been, what worked, what did not. Keep track of great ideas and bad ones, too. Encourage students to do the same as this promotes ownership and critical thinking skills. I will be keeping a journal each day as well as updating here each week. Work through the problems, savor the successes as we go!
This is a process with many steps, or rather a collection of hundreds of little projects and people. So even though countless others have walked this path, our stride is unique and the journey is our own to enjoy.