It’s always interesting to find out what new teachers learned in their early teaching that affected their later years. Here’s Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Elaine Vanessa’s, take on that–5 bits of wisdom she acquired while surviving the early teaching years:
My first five years of teaching were the shortest and longest years of my life. I was living the best and the worst time simultaneously. However, it was the most memorable time of my life that I don’t want to forget. Also, those five years made me a well-groomed educator and a better person in my life.
Every teacher has a dream of having a classroom with respectful kids having fun activities and love while learning. It makes teaching easy if kids love to be in the room every day. However, my first years were not like that. As I continued, I got better every year. There was one thing consistent; learning. Below are five lessons that I have learned in my first five years of teaching. I am sharing them in the hope of being a candle in someone’s darkroom.
1. Finding work/life balance is a process
You cannot work for more than 8 hours every day. You can burn out of exhaustion and fatigue. I have my husband to keep pushing me unless I would have been stuck within the first six months. I learned to keep my school work at school and find personal time at home with my family. You may need to work at home sometimes, but I recommend not making it a habit. Finding work-life balance is not easy; however, it must be a prior goal to achieve and maintain.
2. Take time to get to know your students
Investing your time in understanding and taking care of your students will going to pay you ten folds off. It is not very tough to strike up a conversation with your students, make sure to ask relevant questions, and make a personal connection with them. It is also essential to make them aware of yourself, your family, and your experiences. This will help them to see a real inspirational person in you. Your openness will let them feel comfortable to ask for advice and help. Also, it will create a relationship of trust and respect by letting them explore and encourage them to try something new every day.
The grief and emotional struggle in my fourth year were tragic as we lose three of our students in our school that year; one to cancer, and the other two to accidents. It took troll to the entire school and on me as well. It really felt like losing your own child. Those were the darkest days of my teaching career.
Those were not the first student tragedy that rocked me, but a woeful one. Also, they may not be going to be last. However, no matter how many times it happens, it will always seem to be something unbearable every time. Regardless of how much you are prepared for the next time, it will always be a terrible feat to achieve.
4. Believe you have the power to make things better
We all have been through to the times when our internal energy is exuded by someone who makes us feel happy when we are around them always. The positive energy is real and contagious, so the negativity is. Hence try to be the positive energy source for your students. This is how you will make your class culture and ecosystem well.
I have always tried to provide my students with easy to follow solutions and quick fixes. I have always taught them how to see, analyze, think, and do things, not what to say and do. This has been the most promising and incremental gain.
5. Stay ahead
There are no shortcuts in teaching. In my first five years of education, I have learned that a good source of inspiration comes from letting students know how to see things with positive perspectives. By showing and providing them with mini lessons and healthy discussion, we can help to raise their true potential. Also, asking the right questions can stimulate their thought processing and make them a better person in the future.
Remember, it will take time. But the outcomes are worth waiting for!
Elaine Vanessa has been working as a professional teacher for more than 10 years in multiple designations. She has worked as part time nanny and full time high school teacher. Currently, Elaine is working as science tutor and taking care of her two children.
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.