clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Words of wisdom for teachers from around the web

The start of school is fast-approaching, and teachers around the “edusphere” are offering advice to newbies.

Here in NYC, Jose Vilson writes a sharp, good-humored letter to new Teaching Fellows, advising them to be humble, reflect on their strengths and weaknesses, observe other teachers, keep emotions in check, and stay out of school politics.

Coach Brown, starting his eighth year in California, says it’s all about doing what’s best for kids, and this takes hard work, preparation, finding your own style of teaching, and knowing how to pick your battles. Don’t waste your students’ time, he warns:

Students are some of the best judges of good teaching that exist. 95% of all students actually want to learn. They tell you in means that are not typical but will tell you immediately if you are doing it “wrong”. …However, students will always have a positive response to work they find meaningful.

Jamie Huston, a high school literature teacher in Las Vegas, offers 50 Things New Teachers Need to Know. We hear a lot about having high expectations and being “tough, but fair,” but Huston’s got some of the nuts and bolts of how he does this in his classroom:

If a student submits work that is illegible, incomplete, or that didn’t follow directions, don’t grade it. Return it to the student and tell them that they have three days to correct/finish it and resubmit it to you, but emphasize that it’s “on them.”

Set high standards, but keep focused on what really matters, Huston writes:

If you’re teaching punctuality, or if you simply want to lessen your load of papers to grade, don’t accept late work. However, if your priority is educating students about the content of your field, then you must learn to deal with it. Of course you’ll only accept it one day late, and for half credit, but even then you should be willing to make exceptions.

High school teacher Ms. Cornelius reposts her 2006 round-up, with lots of good tips for classroom management, parent contact, and keeping supplies in order, and possibly the single most important principle for anyone starting out in the classroom:

Never threaten a consequence to a student unless you are actually willing to follow through with it. This is vital in making your life easier for the rest of the year. You must be a person of your word.

Ms. Cornelius adds tips for staying healthy in a stressful, germ-ridden teaching environment.

Teacher Magazine offers tips in several articles.

Hit the floor running and breathe when you leave,” writes North Carolina Teacher of the Year Cindi Rigsbee, advising teachers to arrive early and stay late to prepare, but to take time for themselves at home.

Coleen Armstrong, a writer and award-winning teacher, answers questions from new and experienced teachers alike about preparing for the school year (part 1, part 2). Topics range from helping ADD/ADHD students settle into the classroom, to moving from an elementary to a middle school position, to what to do when staff members gossip about the administration.

Finally, 22-year-veteran Jane Fung offers an overview of what to do and what to ask when you get that first set of classroom keys.

If you’re a new teacher, you’re probably overwhelmed with advice right now. Here’s mine: skim these articles with an eye on first-week ideas. Then bookmark this post and come back to it in a month, when you’ll have a much better sense of what you need to know. Good luck!

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.

The COVID-19 outbreak is changing our daily reality

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit newsroom dedicated to providing the information families and educators need, but this kind of work isn't possible without your help.