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    Jan 9, 2017

    10 Things I Learned As A First-Year Teacher


    I'm sure you've heard the recent data about the mass exodus of teachers from the profession, leaving to pursue any other careers outside the field of education. After one full year, I haven't felt the urge to run yet, but I did learn a lot about what it takes to make it inside the classroom. Here are a few lessons that I had to teach myself:

    1. Every student has a story.


    In the midst of a hard day, it's easy to forget that these kids are real people, with real lives and problems outside of your classroom. But acknowledging them as individuals is the key to cracking even the toughest nuts.

    2. You can't always be (and shouldn't try to be) their friend.


    Sometimes you gotta dole out punishments. Your students aren't always going to love you, and that's okay.

    3. Nothing will ever go as planned.


    Remember that perfect lesson you worked so hard on? Well, the copier just broke, only 4 out of 35 students showed up today, and the Wifi is down. Improvisation is key!

    4. Your fellow teachers are your best resources.


    When you come across a problem that you've never faced before, chances are there is someone on your hallway who has. Ask around! Share resources and life experiences with those around you. We're all in the trenches together, just trying to survive.

    5. Work smarter, not harder!


    Whether it's grading essays, tests, or projects, I think we can all agree that grading is the worst part of the job. Work to find the best way to quickly (yet efficiently) get those things off your desk and in the gradebook. #rubricsmakemelive

    6. Never teach the same lesson twice.


    If a lesson doesn't go well, change it! If it does go well, there are always ways that it can become better. You know what they say, complacency killed the teacher.

    7. Don't expect students to love your material.


    Just because you're obsessed with the quadratic equation or the works of William Shakespeare doesn't mean that your students will feel the same way. Don't get your feelings hurt. Get the best of both worlds by incorporating some of their interests into your lessons.

    8. It's okay to award second chances.


    Let's not forget, these are still kids we're dealing with. Making mistakes is just part of life, so give those second chances when you can. It's not the end of the world if Joey gets an extra day on his book report, or if Megan needs to retake her test. If they're learning, you're doing your job.

    9. Keep parents in the loop.


    Even though it can seem a little intimidating at times, parents are a great resource when it comes to dealing with issues in the classroom. Often, they can provide information about their students that you were completely unaware of, or suggest effective strategies for dealing with their kids. Parents are your friends, so pick up that phone! (Or craft a respectful, well written email.)

    10. Allow yourself to have a life outside of school.

    In this job, it's easy to take your work home with you. You're trying to enjoy a nice movie and your mind starts wandering to new seating charts or Billy's home life. Try not to let the job consume you because that's when you experience burnout. Find activities you enjoy doing outside of school that help you escape the daily worries and responsibilities of the job, whether that's going to church, knitting, or getting your drink on (responsibly, of course).

    Hang in there!