Tips for TEOP: Jacob Elmore
This is the second of two blogs in a series called “Tips for TEOP,” where previous Western students who are currently teachers provide tips and tricks for incoming student teachers in the program. Following are Jacob Elmore’s suggestions for new teachers. Enjoy!
Dear first year teacher,
I want to share with you some insight of what you can expect your first year teaching accompanied by tips that will help you along the way.
One thing you can expect in your first year of teaching is to be completely overwhelmed. You will be navigating curriculum for the first time and spending many hours planning lessons, evaluating student work and reflecting on your teaching. On top of all of that, you will also be bombarded by dozens of emails, communicating with parents on a daily basis and will be part of at least half a dozen meetings on a weekly basis.
It is expected that you will start off working anywhere between 50 to 60 hours a week. While this might not sound promising, I want you to remember to take one thing at a time. Give yourself a time limit each day to do your work and when you reach that time, stop what you are doing. If you’re not finished or are in the middle of planning or grading, stop what you’re doing and go home.
Another thing you can expect in your first year is to feel that all of your focus and attention is toward your classroom and teaching. You will find yourself many times outside of the classroom constantly thinking and reflecting about your day-to-day life as a teacher. I promise you, this is something that is not healthy and will inevitably lead to burn out. The key is balance. Teaching is only one part of your life; it’s not your whole life. Start or continue a favorite hobby of yours; exercise, hang out with friends and don’t talk about education. You will become a better teacher in the long haul by not spending all of your time focusing on education.
The last thing you can expect in your first year is that you will make mistakes and lots of them. I personally believe all teachers try to be perfectionists in some regard, especially first year teachers. But, in the words of Voltaire, “Perfect is the enemy of the good.”
If you believe that you have to be perfect and should not make mistakes, you’re in the wrong business. Whether you like it or not, mistakes are going to happen. You need to have a mindset and culture not only for yourself, but also in your classroom that mistakes are not only okay, but a must. Your mistakes are an opportunity to reflect and grow upon. I want you to embrace and welcome your mistakes so you can become the best teacher you can be for our children and that cannot happen without embracing mistakes.
I want to thank you. You have decided to enter a profession where you’re taking a stand on shaping our society. You are ingraining future leaders, innovators and active members of society. You believe in social justice and are fighting every day for our children. You are an advocate, and someone who has unconditional love to helping people learn and opening up their world and freeing their minds. I wish you the best of luck as you begin this endeavor and believe that you are an agent for change and will go on to do incredible things for our society. Again, I thank you.