Thoughts for a New Teacher

It’s with mixed emotions that I approach my last day working with the group of student teachers in the graduate course I am teaching. There is so much to learn. Following are lessons I hope all preservice teachers will take as they embark upon the most challenging and rewarding task of their lives: becoming teachers.  

  1. Teaching is even more rewarding than you imagined. It is also more exhausting. Rest when you can and take time for yourself each and every day. You will be a better teacher (and human being) for it.
  2. Take the time to not only get to know your students and allow them to get to know you, but also to create opportunities for them to get to know each other. Understanding different perspectives is where true learning takes place.
  3. Students have the uncanny ability to say something that will make your day one second and something that will bring you down the next. Take only the positive comments to heart. Remember that their brains are still developing and it’s hard work growing up. Don’t take it personally.
  4. Your job is to like your students, not the other way around. Be their most ardent supporter. 
  5. Always remember why you wanted to become a teacher. Hold on to this enthusiasm when times are tough.
  6. Keep a file of the nice things students say to you and the little things they write to you. Pull these things out often as a reminder of the impact you have on young lives.
  7. If you’re having a bad day, tell your students. They’ll notice something is off and, more than likely, will think it has to do with them.
  8. Really listen to your students. Their stories will astound you.
  9. Create opportunities for students to have an authentic voice in your class. Support them as they exercise their voice in the school.
  10. Approach each new day as a new opportunity to connect with kids. You may not know about the lives you have changed until much, much later, if ever. Keep going anyway. 

I am grateful for my work with graduate students. They have reignited my passion for teaching. I know that they will go on to do wonderful work for our kids. I consider myself lucky for having worked with them and I know their students will feel the same way.

Fear is a high school dean of students in Oregon.