I am so excited to link up with Teaching with Crayons & Curls and My Mommy Reads to share my ROCK STAR teaching tips! I can still remember when I decided to be a teacher way back in first grade. From then on, whenever we were to talk or write about our dream profession in school, I was confident in my choice. I did however imagine my years as a teacher as "sunshine and rainbows". In third grade I even went into detail to say that I would "be every student's best friend" and I would even "give them my phone number" in case they needed to talk. Was I in for a surprise that first year...
Going into my fifth year this coming fall I would still say there is still so MUCH to learn and this is why I continue to love this profession, but the following are those hard lessons and tips I learned these last four years...
Here are the details...
REFLECT: Buy a journal. If possible, keep one by your bed for those restless nights of thinking before you can sleep. Write down your ideas, complaints, feelings, and triumphs. Decide to write it down and then let yourself MOVE ON. If a lesson didn't go well, write down your plan for tomorrow, but then let it go! Tomorrow is always a new day and anything you can learn from just leads to more open doors.
PRACTICE X5: This is something I learned from my mentor teacher that year of student teaching. She was a teaching guru. With over 45 years under her belt, she wasn't messing around when it came to procedures, expectations...well when it came to pretty much EVERYTHING. I remember when she told me about practicing. She said "Practice, practice, practice. Keep practicing even when you think your students have got it down. I can tell you, they still haven't yet."
This was so true! And even those
seemingly thousands ten times we practiced lining up or putting away our backpacks, when they seemed to have it DOWN...were not NEARLY enough. And so... practice X5. This means when you think your students have MASTERED IT. Keep practicing at least five more times for five more days. It can be very very very painful, but let me tell you. IT IS ALL WORTH IT.
ASK FOR HELP: Now this one. I still have trouble with it! As an "A" type personality, it is definitely out of my comfort zone to ask for help. But every time I have, I kick myself that I didn't do it earlier!! The bottom line is...we are all in the same boat AND from what I have experienced most teachers LOVE to help. I have seen this on my own campus, through social media, etc. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Write that down so you don't forget:).
OVERTHINK: Now this one is hard NOT to do. Something doesn't go right. You have a BAAADD day. You bring it home with you. You stay up way too late tossing and turning in bed over it. Look back at REFLECT. Grab that journal. Call a friend. Scream into a pillow. Make a plan for your next move. Go for a run. Don't be afraid to share your worries or "mistakes" with others. Then MOVE ON. This takes a lot of practice and I am still not good at this, but luckily I have a husband that is and he will keep reminding me of my own advice until I actually follow it.
Overthinking doesn't help change anything. It has already happened. Be proactive in your next move, but then let yourself relax and get some sleep. You will need it tomorrow.
OVERPROMISE: Each year, I continue to make this mistake. I say yes to things I should say no to. No, I cannot plan for the carnival, complete report cards, and help build the set for the school play...all in one week. With colleagues, just be honest about what is already on your plate.
With students and families....THIS IS EVEN HARDER NOT TO DO. I remember the first year of teaching when I decided I would send home a thorough weekly newsletter. When Sunday came around, I was pulling my hair out...but despite my agony and lack of time....I still had to do it. Because I promised it. Start out with a small promise. Monthly newsletters? If that works out great, THEN decide to increase it. Wanting to plan an elaborate prize/reward system this next year? Start small. Whatever you promise, they will remember and remind you. I promise. They may forget their spelling words, but they won't forget what you promised. Same with consequences. Follow through. Don't overpromise a consequence you are not positive you will be able to carry out.
I still remember in fourth grade, on the first day of school, when my teacher promised to give a prize to anyone who turned in their homework EVERY SINGLE DAY, on time, all year. Well... when the end of the school year came around...guess who still remembered that? Not my teacher. Me. You should have seen the look on her face when I reminded her. She said she would have to look back and check. Did she have a place where she kept track of this? I have no clue, but if she didn't she was going to have to pretend she did. Never the less, two days later I was given a KING-SIZE Snickers bar. I will never forget that.
GET SOCIAL AND SET GOALS: Social media (blogs, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc.) has changed the way I teach. It has only been in the last year or so that I realized the MASSIVE amount of teachers that are willing to share ideas, goals, thoughts, feelings with each other. JUST BECAUSE.
When I say "get social", I don't just mean through social media. Get social at school. Set goals and share them with your colleagues. Ask about theirs. Offer your help when needed. Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. Don't be afraid to share your fears. Be open. Practice kindness. Don't let yourself get sucked in by the gossip that is sometimes floating around a school.
Most of all, believe in yourself! You (and everyone) has something to share with the world.
Enjoy your summer and good luck in the fall! You are about to change the lives of a group of learners!