On Thursday, I posted part I of Things You Will Wish Someone Had Told You About Teaching. Like I said in the first post, I know that having a copy of Roxanna Elden’s book, See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers, wouldn’t have solved all of my first-year frustrations, but it certainly would have put a lot of what I was going through into perspective.
I think other teachers—both new and old—can glean something from Elden’s frank advice, so without further ado, here are five more things you will wish someone had told you about teaching!
5 More Things You Will Wish Someone Had Told You About Teaching
Don’t be too worried about your students liking you
You’ve probably heard of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and even if you haven’t, you know from experience that love and intimacy are basic human needs. We all want to love and be loved—but look, you’re going to do a lot of damage when you try to earn your students affection by letting your classroom management slip.
As Elden suggests, it can feel unnatural, especially for young teachers, to “play the role of a nerdy or uptight adult,” but keep in mind that freedom is easier to give than take away.
Your students have friends—and let’s be frank, you’ll never be as cool as they are. You are an authority figure and a leader. Act like one.
Make a schedule for paperwork
Elden is right about a few things:
- First, you’re not going to believe how much of your job is tied up in paperwork.
- Second, the paperwork won’t end until sometime in June.
- Third, you’re going to get tired of it—and because you’re tired of it, it’s going to be tempting to put paperwork off.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is create a realistic grading schedule and stick to it. If you know you can only grade 10-15 papers in a night, don’t bring home a stack of 50; this will stress you out and lead to exhaustion.
Teaching is physically exhausting
Have you seen this short New York Times piece? If you’re already a teacher, you probably thought, “My gosh…it’s like looking in the mirror. That’s exactly how I feel at the end of the day.”
As a new teacher, you often drive to and from work in the dark. You’re on your feet all day and when you go home, you’ll probably think about the students that are at-risk. Even so, there’s some good news if you keep reading.
Things do get better
There will be days—and perhaps many of them—when you’re so physically exhausted and discouraged that you will consider throwing in the towel. During these times, do your best to remember Elden’s advice:
There’s a reason why so many people have chosen to become teachers: Certain moments in this profession more than make up for your worst days. Be patient. These moments will come—and when they do, you will understand.
Lock your door when you leave the room
A lot of new teachers leave their doors open because they are just “stepping out for a minute.” You’d be surprised what can happen in 60 seconds.
Grade-schoolers are cute; they wouldn’t dream of going into your classroom without your permission; they wouldn’t think about going through your desk. Right….
Wear your classroom keys around your neck, on your wrist, or attach them to your belt loop with a climbing carabiner so that you’re not tempted to leave your room unlocked.